Storytelling

Google Got Nominated For An Oscar

Google introduced their 360 Spotlight Stories a little over a year ago and they have been gaining steady traction since. If you haven’t checked out the VR tech you can see all of the videos on YouTube here, and if you have a VR headset that is connected to the internet I suggest giving it a view that way as well. The films themselves are really well done with compelling stories and solid animation to match, and while this has the opportunity to be a huge marketing tool for any number of industries it really shines as an entertainment vehicle. Case in point the video below that has been nominated for an Oscar at this year’s Acadamy Awards. Yes, Google is in the running for an Oscar for the animated short “Pearl”. The five and a half minute animated short tells the story of a girl and her father as they travel the country in their car chasing dreams and bonding over

The five and a half minute animated short tells the story of a girl and her father as they travel the country in their car chasing dreams and bonding over song, life, and the open road. To get the full experience of the short film you need to actually pan around the environment. You can get the full impact of the story by simply watching, but the experience is far greater when you actually dive into what Google offers here, which is an immersive experience that extends the story.

Google has only released a handful of these short films, all of which are available on their YouTube channel. I think that is a testament to a couple of things. How long it takes to produce quality content, and how complex crafting this kind of immersive environment can be. I’m pretty excited to see how far this can be pushed, and I’m really looking forward to Google releasing a full development kit for this. The potential is huge on so many levels.

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Selling Genesis Cars With Deep Purple.

I really like this video telling the story of how Deep Purple came to write their epic hit “Smoke on the Water”. Maybe it’s because it is one of the first songs I learned to play on the guitar. The video has a great look to it and the story is compelling enough to draw you in and keep you engaged until the end. What I don’t get is why the marketing team for Genesis cars thought this would be solid advertising for them. There is no connection between the band, the song, the story or the car. There isn’t even a car in the story, so who thought this was a good way to sell cars? At the end of the video there is the tag line “Inspired by Genesis”. Are they trying to say our cars are so great they are like a casino burning to the ground at the end of a Frank Zappa concert? It just seems like it is the wrong message. This kind of reminds me of Disney using Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life” to advertise family cruises, or Lee Jeans using Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Senator’s Son” to sell jeans without actually listening to the lyrics in the songs.

Perhaps the marketing department was looking for a long shot and thought if enough people talk about the fact that this makes no sense we will actually move some automobiles. Maybe someone at Genesis is a huge Deep Purple fan.  Great video though. Solid story, great animation, nice look from rom Great Big Story.

 

Buster the Boxer Likes To Bounce.

Every year British department store chain John Lewis goes all in on their holiday marketing campaign, and this year is no exception. From the TV commercial, “Buster’s Garden” to the extended length YouTube spot, the VR 360 companion video and the website, plus social media (they have a dedicated Snapchat filter you can get) they have pulled out all the stops. The video is a really nice blend of CG and live action with a story that ties it all together. The concept is built around the story of a little girl called Bridget who loves to bounce. When her mom and dad buy her a trampoline for Christmas, they soon discover that she isn’t the only one with a passion for jumping.

If you click through to YouTube and select the more information section you will see where John Lewis has partnered with the Wildlife Trusts to help protect and restore our nation’s wildlife and natural habitat for our children today and in the future. I addition there are options to sign up for additional videos that will be posting this holiday season and the usual hooks to social media as well. The microsite does a really solid job of integrating the extended content and encouraging visitors to do more than just shop. While shopping is encouraged and there are really strong ties to product related specifically to the advertising, there are additional calls to action with Bring Skills to Life which ties the campaign to real world activities children can engage with at home.

One of the things that I think is really interesting, and I wish I were going to the UK to see it in person, is the fact that John Lewis has created Buster’s Garden at a number of their stores allowing you to explore the space using Oculus Rift technology. Like the rest of the campaign, its a nice blend of technology and the physical store environments.

“How Life Unfolds” Paper and Packaging Leverages The Power of Storytelling.

Last night while suffering from a bout of insomnia I was watching TV trying to will myself to get sleepy so I could just go to bed and dream the night away. It wasn’t working and I’m glad it I stayed up. The fact that I was watching late night TV allowed me to see a commercial for Paper and Packaging that originally dropped back in April, which led me to the online campaign that it is tied to as well. And this got me to thinking about how really nice this campaign is.

In a day and age where no one really writes physical letters anymore, how does a company communicate the use of paper, of how personal handwritten communication is, and how touching a physical letter can be instead of an email or text? They do it through compelling storytelling. When I first saw the commercial below, the sound was off on my TV. I was actually working on my iPad and happened to look up and see it. I didn’t turn the sound on, instead I watched the entire spot in silence and was still drawn in by a storyline that simply works. The visuals are as equally compelling as the voice over. After watching the spot I backed up, turned on the sound and watched again, this time listening to the message, and thinking about how this spot hits a home run.

The commercial is relevant because it does a number of things. It unites multiple generations with the experience of writing an actual letter. It ties three generations together, one that grew up in a time where email and texts didn’t exist, one where these technologies emerged, and one where the primary form of communication is digital. In doing so, it humanizes what could be a forgettable experience, (a text, or an email) and replaces it with something that we all know is memorable, a hand written letter. Everyone everywhere knows the power of a correspondence written by hand. A letter takes time, require focus, and tends to feel more genuine. It isn’t something that is typed out on a phone, reduced to 140 characters, or lost in a digital inbox or folder that exists on the cloud out of sight out of mind.  The commercial also shows the products in use. Not just the piece of paper, remember this is for “Paper and Packaging”, a company that also produces cardboard boxes. The commercial shows the letters, written on paper, shipped in a box, and returned the same way, all while telling a great story about how the product is used as a form of communication and delivery.

After watching the spot a couple of more times, I no longer cared about willing myself to sleep. I was curious about the rest of the campaign, so I did a quick Google search and found that Paper and packaging had recently created a new series of YouTube videos entitled “Letters for Peace” on their channel “How Life Unfolds”, great tagline by the way. I have one of the 3-minute videos below, but I highly recommend clicking through and watching the remaining six. Every one of them is  done at the same high level of production and tells a wonderful story all coming back to the same basic component of the commercial “Letters to Dad” that I happened to look up and catch last night.

All of this is tied together through digital media of course. Let’s face it, they might be a paper company, but even they know you can’t escape from the digital realm, especially when it comes to advertising and marketing your products. There is an Instagram account that has a little over 400 posts and a few thousand followers. Followers are encouraged to celebrate how paper and packaging helps them accomplish their goals at home, at school, and in the workplace by posting images using the hashtag #howlifeunfolds. The website is an online archive of the letters of peace, and a place where comments are fed to the site and people are encouraged to like and share. In addition the site offers additional insight into the authors, invites people to submit their own letters, promotes the product line, and has feature articles on why you should write things by hand.

Great stuff from Cramer-Krasselt, Paper and Packaging’s agency of record.

The Gatekeeper.

Shige San is one of the truest examples of a public servant and personal savior. The video below tell the story of  a retired police detective that now dedicates his life to preventing deaths at Japan’s suicide cliffs, providing emergency assistance and counseling even as tourists flock to the site, attracted by its notoriety as a popular suicide destination. This is a wonderful short film, that tells an extraordinary story and worth taking 40 minutes to watch it.

I suggest if you have an AppleTV or a smart TV with Vimeo available you watch it on the big screen. The experience is so much better than on your computer monitor or tablet.

Poilus – The Hairy One.

Once again I am absolutely blown away by the quality of work that is being produced by students these days. I know the hardware and software are better than it was even ten years ago let alone twenty plus, but there is more to it than the simple mastery of your tool set. The story telling level is better, the understanding of atmosphere, and how to build tension, the editing, etc. The animated short below was created by a group of seven students at ISART DIGITAL, the Video Game and 3D Animation / VFX School for their graduation film The title “Poilus” means the hairy one. It is a term of endearment for a French WWI infantryman the main character of the film. This is really solid work, and I have no doubt this crew will go on to great things as they leave college and embark on a career in animation.

3D Animation : Guillaume AUBERVAL, Léa DOZOUL, Simon GOMEZ, Timothé HEK, Hugo LAGRANGE, Antoine LAROYE and David LASHCARI
Music & Sound Design : Aina ANDRIAN, Paul BARRET, Gabriel DALMASSO, Auriane FATON, Elio GERMANI and Lesly VERDEROSA

Madita, a New Typeface from Animography.

If you work with After Effects, or you are a graphic designer you might be familiar with Animography, the company that produces animated typefaces that are fully customizable. I’ve been a fan of these guys for quite some time, and always love it when a new release comes out. In the past Animography has done a pretty straightforward promotion of the product, they show the typeface animating, and the variations that can be achieved with it. All of this is an effective demonstration of what they are trying to sell, but the promotional animation for Madita is a winner.

Animography Shows the typeface in use, but blends it with a catchy little story, some wonderful animation, and shows how the typeface can be used in a project before wrapping it up with a simple question, “Where can I get this typeface?”  The design and animation by Philip von Borries does a really nice job of showing Madita in use, and combined with the narration, the story hooks you and keeps you interested until the marketing punch at the end, which hopefully gets viewers interested in the font. Even if you aren’t a designer, or animator, the video is worth watching simply for the visuals and the nice little storyline.