That's the thinking behind T-Mobile's latest web campaign starring National Basketball Association legend Charles Barkley and one of the league's more popular star, Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat, who also appear in numerous -- and humorous -- TV efforts for the wireless carrier. While shooting material for T-Mobile's Super Bowl spot with agency Publicis in the West, the chemistry between the two stars was so good that the production team found itself with hours of outtakes they couldn't use for the 30-second spot.
Remixing it up
Thoughts first drifted toward making a longer spot on the web, but the agency and marketer decided to create a web campaign that would allow them to use all their assets. The result: "Create your own T-Mobile remix," a site created by Seattle-based GLG that lets users edit and mash up the extra clips with a simple drag-and-drop interface, creating their own versions of the Super Bowl spot.
In a move reminiscent of Dorito's 2006 Crash the Super Bowl campaign, the consumer-edited spots can be submitted in a contest for a chance to have the clip played during the 2008 NBA playoffs. A T-Mobile team will look through the submissions -- estimated to be close to 1,000 already -- for those that best fit the T-Mobile brand message. Mr. Barkley will be a part of the selection jury.
"T-Mobile is highly invested in its NBA partnership, and both stars have a great relationship that resonates with a larger audience than the NBA-audience target," said Jocelyn English, T-Mobile's senior manager of sponsorships. "This was a way of maximizing the buy of the Super Bowl spot, extend the investment if you will." Though unwilling to disclose figures, Ms. English said the move was saving T-Mobile a significant amount of cash.
Dan Fietsam, executive creative director of Publicis in the West, said part of the challenge in creating the campaign was to avoid the pitfalls of user-generated content. "If you look at user-generated campaigns, you usually have either no submissions, or submissions by professional filmmakers," said Mr. Fietsam. Indeed, the winners of the Doritos Super Bowl competition were aspiring filmmakers, as were most finalists. Because few people have the inclination or the means to create their own ads from scratch, asking users to generate assets creates a barrier for consumers to participate, Mr. Fietsam said.
"That's why we're calling our campaign 'participatory narrative.' We give the consumers the raw materials and the [software] means for them to participate in the narrative of the T-Mobile brand, and hopefully allow more people to participate than regular user-generated campaigns."
So far, the campaign has been successful in driving traffic to T-Mobile's website, which saw twice as much traffic after the Super Bowl spot directed viewers to it. And that is what T-Mobile was aiming for. "The main thing we were hoping to get out of this was to not let the great material Charles and Dwayne gave us go to waste, and drive brand awareness and consideration," Ms. English said.