Shoot Forum

On May 10th I was part of a panel at the Shoot Forum in New York: The topic was:

“Transmedia, Social Media, Digital Media, Integrated Media: New platforms and combination thereof–as well as different forms of content for them–continue to emerge and evolve. This panel offers multifaceted perspectives on that evolution and how it is affecting the production, ad agency and client communities. How are traditional media and new platforms meshing? What philosophies and approaches are surfacing to help connect brands with the right audiences? What lessons are we learning about the coming together of art and commerce, advertising and entertainment? Get a handle on where you and your company fit and how you can leverage your expertise across varied media.”

I shared the stage with Kevin Roddy, recently named chief creative officer of Publicis & Hal Riney, Doug Scott, president of OgilvyEntertainment; Gaston Legorburu, co-executive director/worldwide chief creative officer of SapientNitro and Marty Orzio, chief creative officer of Gotham.

In front of the audience at the DGA Theater, Bob Goldrich, Shoot Editor and the moderator of the panel, asked me to talk about the reasons and the strategy beyond the rebranding of RedMagmaMedia using the ARG “Ready for the Big Chill”.

I started my answer by defining what’s the new landscape in the media universe.

As Ty Montague says, “People don’t buy products, they buy stories!” But we also think that “People don’t watch a good story: they make a good story”. For this reason while we should think of ourselves as storytellers instead of advertisers, we should also see the the viewers as participants.

On one hand this is due to the migratory and nomadic behavior of the participants, who move from a platform to another or from a medium to the next to consume content in two or more platforms simultaneously.

And, on the other, this shift is occurring because of the generation change that is taking place: the Millennials are not linear thinker sand therefore prefer non-linear narratives. They want to be heard, they love real-time and permanent renovation and they grew up playing MMO (massive multipayer online games).

We dedicated a lot of time investigating why games are so engaging and why we are facing a gamification of  storytelling. While what we consider easy-fun (like watching TV) is actually mildly depressing, playing games and accomplishing some hard tasks make our brain to releases dopamine, epinephrine and endorphin that are “well-being neurotransmitter” that promote happiness. But happiness, as Eric Weiner points out, “is not a noun, it is a conjunction”, because there is no way to be happy alone: therefore one of the major strengths of gaming is that they promote co-operation, co-ordination and co-creation.

Stories have to become more and more game-like and an excuse to create large communities and this is the territory of transmedia storytelling that, being the quintessential form of gamified narrative, we need to explore.

As a consequence of these factors, as I explained in my answer to Bob’s question, we came to recognize that in this environment, making good commercials, including award winning ones, is not enough. We know that in the next few years our challenge will not consist uniquely of making incredibly good commercials but in making them to work as cultural attractors and cultural activators. Meaning that they have to be spreadable, embeddable, bloggable, tweetable and sharable, bookmarkable: commercials that people want to share on Facebook, embed on their blogs, comment in their tweets, recommend on Stambleupon and watch on their mobile devices.

But not even that is enough: in addition to unbelievably good commercials we need to be able to generate also a broader type of narratives. We need to be able to tell gigantic stories, that cannot fit in a single medium using a plethora of platforms and formats: short films, webisodes, app’s, games, comic books, augmented reality, mobile app’s etc.

So, as I pointed out in my answer, when we decided that having the word “films” as part of the name of the company was a bit limiting, and we decided to change the name of the company from Mia Films to RedMagmaMedia, it was natural for us to chose an ARG like “Ready for the Big Chill” as an opportunity to establish the new identity and define the personality of the production company.

In the new environment production companies need to add new capabilities to their structures and form bonds with new types of creators. For “Ready for the Big Chill”, for instance, the development of platforms, the community management, the scriptwriting (the script was almost 100 pages long) and the design were extraordinarily important. The project was an especially interesting test of our capabilities to manage an always-on narrative that unfolded across multiple platforms and multiple time zones: In fact the fictional characters of “Ready for the Big Chill” were twittering 24/7 from New York, Peru, Tanzania and Indonesia. We could achieve everything in house thanks to a quite unique structure spread in 4 countries.

May 27th, 2011