As it turns out, all of the above. Both websites are at the center of a campaign from Ford Motor Company and agencies Y&R Brands and Wunderman Detroit to promote the 2006 Mercury Milan and 2006 Lincoln Zephyr through a full-length feature film written, directed and produced by interactive advertising pioneer Kirt Gunn and his Kirt Gunn & Associates boutique. "This project is an industry first in that we produced a narrative independent feature film," says Gunn. "I say independent because the agencies and the client gave us complete creative latitude to make this film. After shooting it, we then licensed small segments to Lincoln and Mercury, which are being shown on the websites. The brands have a six month license to show this content, and then we plan to submit the film to festivals and try to get a subsequent wider release."
Coming off the success of 2004's "Meet the Lucky Ones" web-film effort for Mercury, Gunn crafted the offbeat story of Marian Walker, a novelist whose tale of two underwear-donning, cereal-eating brothers on a boat in the middle of a field begins to take on a life of its own. After her mentor suggests she kill off one of the brothers, the character escapes the confines of her book and begins to wreak havoc on her actual life. "It's a story about the balance between fiction and reality, life and art, and hope and fear," says Gunn. "It borrows the Shakespearean idea of a story within a story, and sort of takes that into the realm of absurdity." As for the role of the cars? "The brands have an incidental presence, but not a contrived one," says Gunn. "When the protagonists drive a car, it's a Lincoln or a Mercury. The idea is to avoid intrusion or interruption, and let the story fulfill its potential without compromising its integrity in anyway. I generally don't subscribe to calling this kind of content 'branded,' because it's really a sponsorship or a commissioned work."
TheNeverything.com provides a wacky glimpse into the imaginary world of the brothers, while LovelyBySurprise.com peeks into the more realistic reality of Marian—but as more and more videos go live, the separation between the worlds will begin to fade away. "As time evolves, the stories begin to touch each other and affect each other," says Gunn. "There will be some interesting twists and unique ways in which the content begins to connect over time."