Google approached us to help create compelling new content and creative uses for its new click-to-play video ad medium and technology. This was a great fit for Saturn to help launch its new car and drive traffic into their retail locations. Creative, new media and interactive came together to form this idea to solve a difficult business issue in a way never done before. Like with all of our interactive projects, interactive production gets involved right at the beginning, with the creative brief.
What's step one on a job like this?
Once the creative is approved by the client, you start developing a timeline and identify all parties involved with their individual tasks. In general, I like to work backwards, starting with the live date, then QA [quality assurance] process and so on. This makes it much easier to tweak design and production times in the earlier stages. In this case we created a master schedule with all the main deadlines for each department involved— motion graphics, broadcast production, postproduction and interactive production. Each had individual schedules and timelines, which we then integrated into the master schedule for a seamless execution.
What were the main production components of the job?
For broadcast, we filmed and edited all the video—shot at 22 different dealership locations with the actual salespeople as actors. Motion graphics were also used to combine seamlessly the Google Earth Video with the "flight" into the Saturn dealership filmed by broadcast production, and to build the 3-D models of the dealerships. In interactive, we were in charge of creating 22 individual landing pages, including integration of all the video assets and development of custom branded Google Maps with directions to each dealership, and we QA'd and deployed all components to Saturn.com and the Google network. Google technology involved click-to-play video ads, geographic targeting, Google Maps and Google Content Network.
What were the biggest challenges in producing this campaign?
The biggest challenge was to stay on target, or in our case, to keep all the important deadlines. We did not have the luxury we sometimes have on other projects where we often start with compiling all the assets, like video assets, first before we start with interactive production. All individual groups had to work on their parts simultaneously and in an integrated manner. This was only possible by sticking closely to our timeline.
What did you learn about production from this particular experience?
This experience confirmed the fact that the boundaries between interactive production and broadcast post production are blurring. From websites like Ikea's "Dreamkitchen" to this Google/Saturn project, the complexity and possibilities in interactive projects have increased rapidly. The "producer of the future," some might call him/her "integrated producer," will have to have expertise in both fields and be willing to adapt new ways of working.
If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?
Optimize the streaming video more efficiently for shorter load time. We might try different opening static images to see what would entice people to click more often. We might also consider shortening the length of the video to get to the call to action faster.
What was your proudest moment? I always get excited when I show someone who wasn't involved a finished project and they are blown away. A great and exciting response is always: "Holy cow, how the heck did you guys do that?"
Having worked on this project, what other uses do you think this application would be good for? We are considering how we might extend this program on a national basis, but no decisions have been made. In general I feel geographic targeting and Google Video ads are an effective way to reach people and will therefore grow in popularity among advertisers and brands.
Difficulty level, on a scale of one to five, of producing this job: Under normal circumstances I would say 3, but due to the time constraints I'll give it a 4.