TWEED GUEST EXPERT is a series of posts authored by industry experts to introduce various perspectives on the branded entertainment industry.
To promote Lacta chocolate bar in Greece, Kraft Foods and OgilvyOne Athens crowdsourced a 27-minute branded-entertainment film, involving the audience in everything from writing to casting and styling the actors. Some people even popped up as extras in the finished film. During filming, audiences were kept updated through a blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr accounts. On Valentine’s day the film aired on Greece’s top TV channel and online, with great success.
Only months after “Love at first site”, Lacta’s first online film had launched, and long before its award-winning streak had reached its peak, Kraft Foods had briefed us on the next assignment. The goal was simple. Repeat the success of the first one.
The concept of “Love in Action” was based on our own experiences with the first production:
A) In order to write the script, one had to draw from one’s own experiences and love stories. Seeing those stories made into a film was a very fulfilling felling. So the idea of the new campaign was to let consumers experience that same feeling. To let them write their own real love stories and perhaps get to see them turned into a movie!
B) Back in the summer of 2008, while filming “Love at first site” on location at Paros, we used to update the rest of the team back in Athens, by sharing mobile photos on Facebook. A year later, Facebook was more popular than ever, Twitter had caught on, and smartphones had become even more capable of capturing quality photos & videos and updating all sorts of Social Media platforms, on the go. The idea was then, to keep all fans updated of every step of the production, by the use of mobile phones.
C) Similarly, while making the first film, we were able to digitally exchange with our client casting test videos, styling and location photos and make quick decisions without having the held physical meetings all the time. The third aspect of “Love in Action” was then, to let people vote online for as many matters as possible.
So there was the premise of the new campaign. Let users participate in the production of the next love film, by writing the story, vote for the casting and other decisions and follow every step of the production through Social Media.
We clearly hit a nerve with the first decision. Although we anticipated about 100 stories in order to select just one, we ended up receiving more than 10 times our goal! We got a total of 1.307 stories from people all over Greece. Some stories were only a few paragraphs short and others longer than a few pages. Reading all those stories and publishing them became a major undertaking. But at the same time, those stories became a valuable and popular content for our blog. Many people wanted to share their own stories, and everyone loved reading them even if they weren’t selected to become the film.
The biggest challenge we then faced, during preproduction, was to coordinate all the marketing activities integrated around our film. A major TV campaign was scheduled on specific dates, first asking for story submissions and then for people to vote on the casting for the lead roles. We had only about a month to read and select the story and another one to get the screenplay ready and start the casting process. Building a marketing campaign around our film production might seemed like an engaging idea for audiences, but also put a lot of pressure around the creative process!
But the enthusiasm of our online visitors kept us going. People seemed thrilled to be a part of the production and did so in big numbers. More than 11.500 registered online and participated during all stages, including story submissions, casting decisions, and selecting the character names or even the clothing of the lead actors.
We already had about 100.000 unique visitors to the site and more than 10.000 Facebook fans, for a film that we hadn’t even began filming yet!
When cameras rolled, we shared every minute of the thrill of movie making with the audience. We transmitted live video streams through Ustream, and had photos constantly uploaded on our Facebook page. We let everyone know where we were through Twitter and asked people to join us as extras. On the morning after each shooting day, we uploaded “behind the scenes” video reports on our YouTube channel and blog, and hundreds of professional still photos on Flickr. It was as if people were there on set with us, minus the cold and the long waits to light each scene…
When post-production began, people were already excited about the premiere being only a few weeks away. We, on the other hand were frightened of our deadline! Valentine’s day had been set as our premiere day since the beginning. But now, with only a handful of days to go, lets just say that the 14th of February was a day our editors weren’t in love with!
Adding to that pressure was the fact that the country’s most popular TV channel had offered to air the film for free on that same day… So we worked around the clocks to have everything ready in time. Trailers were aired as soon as edited and we also designed a poster that gave the promise of a very romantic film, coming soon.
In fact we almost fell victims of the buzz we managed to create. Anticipation was so high; that some people felt disappointed when they found out that “Love in Action” was only a 25-minute short. Many expected a feature film, because of its advertising and the hype around it!
But in the end, our target audience fell in love with the film. Young Greeks and romantics of all ages tuned in on its TV premiere and parallel online launch. And when a new TV campaign was aired after the premiere, even more people went online to see it, and then became Facebook fans in order to express their feelings about it.
During its TV premiere, 335.000 Greeks saw the film, achieving a 12% viewer share. And as of this writing, there have been another 200.000 online views of the film and about 310.000 visits to the site since the campaign began l
ast October. In total, www.loveinaction.gr has had more than 210.000 unique visitors, amounting to something like 7% of the Greek Internet population.
Sharing the love was after all, a very good idea.
About the Author: Panos Sambrakos
Panos has been bringing customers and brands together through interactive experiences for more than a decade. Since 2005, he has been leading the interactive unit of OgilvyOne Worldwide – Athens, guiding the creative work produced for websites, and digital campaigns.
The work he has creatively directed has won numerous Ermis Web Awards at Greece’s annual advertising festival, including 4 Grand Prix and has also won international recognition at both the NY Festivals and MIXX Awards. Panos maintains a blog at www.panos.gr and was the founder of one of the most historic James Bond fan websites, Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang!