HP Breaks Into Show Business With Promotion for Budding Filmmakers

Latest Hewlett-Packard "My Computer, My Stage" Effort With Saatchi & Saatchi Provides a Platform For Self-Expression and Community Interaction in China

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BEIJING (AdAgeChina.com) -- To keep its laptops, printers and storage devices in the minds of China's most tech-savvy young consumers, Hewlett-Packard will make budding filmmakers' dreams come true with its "My Computer, My Stage" platform.

Last year, HP encouraged consumers to express dreams, achievements and goals through writing or illustrations on a dedicated site. A second stage let them write hip-hop songs and post them online.

Now the U.S. tech company is focusing on film making, and taking a more interactive approach to reflect a shift in attitude among Chinese youth toward online communities.

HP's Robin Seow
HP's Robin Seow
"When the first phase launched, young Chinese were more individualistic at that time. Today, with evolution of social networking, we see a strong sense of communal bonding with an affiliated community, whether it's about sports, music, skate boarding and so on," said Robin Seow, Beijing-based director of marketing for Hewlett-Packard's Personal Systems Group in China.

The move towards more interactivity is mostly caused by the growing popularity of social media sites. But it's also related to increasing social awareness among young Chinese in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake last year.

"Youth have a strong voice about how society looks at certain matters, like green issues and social responsibility," Mr. Seow said.

Film contest based on four themes
Young Chinese are invited to submit film script ideas to HP's My Stage web site, www.hpmystage.com.cn based on four themes voted on by young consumers -- holidays, student dormitories and bedrooms, love and dreams.

Visitors can also put their names forward to be actors. A panel chosen by HP, led by Ning Hao, director of Chinese films like "Crazy Stone," will select the best script from each theme, then HP will create and upload a story board to the site.

The online community can shoot and upload films for each story based on the winning script.

The online community will vote for Academy Awards-like prizes such as best film, actor, actress, film treatment and musical score.

At the end, Mr. Ning will put together a short film using the best elements from the four finalists, one for each theme. Each finalist will also win an HP notebook computer.

The short movie will be featured in China at an annual film festival held by Tudou.com, one of China's top online video sites, and an HP partner in the film project. HP also worked with Enlight Harry Media Entertainment Group to find film industry opinion leaders to be judges and help with program tie-ins.

Mr. Hao's short film will also be entered in international festivals such as the Sundance Film Festival, said Charles Sampson, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, Beijing. Saatchi created all three phases of the "My Computer, My Stage" platform. Burson Marsteller handled PR, and Omnicom Media Group managed media planning and buying.

China success led to Asian reality show
Separately, the success of the earlier versions of "My Computer, My Stage" has encouraged HP to sponsor a pan-Asian reality show called called "HP Space." The TV series will air on Star World and Channel [V], channels operated by News Corp.'s Hong Kong-based Star Group.

Channel [V] VJs Juhi, Nic and Dom (l to r), hosts of the HP-sponsored reality show
Channel [V] VJs Juhi, Nic and Dom (l to r), hosts of the HP-sponsored reality show
Contestants on the one-hour show will use HP products to handle creative challenges and compete for a $50,000 cash prize and a job at a production company that is re-making cult anime classic, "Bubblegum Crisis."

The eight-episode series debuts in November, and digital auditions began Sept. 1 at www.hpspace.com.

Thirty-six finalists will attend live auditions in China, India and Singapore to pick 12 contestants for the reality show. The two HP programs are not directly linked although some of China's "HP Space" contestants will be drawn from from participants in "My Computer, My Stage."


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