While you watch the documentary, dozens of archival photos, videos,
documents and audio
recordings -- like the recently declassified tapes from the
ExComm meetings between
Kennedy and his advisory committee -- are added to a "digital
dossier," which can be
accessed online, or via your smartphone at any time. There's
also a calendar that syncs with your iCal
or Google Calendar so viewers can experience the 13 days leading
to the crisis "live," by attending key
meetings, receiving letters and notes.
Toward the end, there's a short film that takes place in an
alternate 2012 -- one where the Cuban
Missile Crisis escalated into a full scale nuclear war -- which
tells the story of four characters
who remember the horrors of that time in their own ways. The
film feels deceptively real--and seems as much a documentary as the
rest of the site, but it was actually scripted and features
Education Over Promotion
"Our motto is to educate the public about JFK's legacy," said
Joe Alexander, executive
creative director at The Martin Agency. "We
realized a series of print ads wouldn't do justice
to this very complicated story, so we brought in this
documentary, plus the teaching tool that
is the 'what-if' scenario."
The title itself, like the campaign, is multi-layered. The
"Clouds" refers of course, to the
clouds that covered Cuba during that time, which made U.S.
extremely difficult, but also to the mushroom clouds that signal
a nuclear bomb. As Mr.
Alexander notes, the title was also chosen to note the "foggy
memory" that many people now
have about the crisis.
Brian Williams, who co-led creative on the project, said that
for someone like him, who
didn't live through the crisis, people don't know how close we
really came. "We want to
debunk the misconceptions, that Kennedy's advisors were the ones
to collectively lead us
away from the brink of war, and show people just how wrong it
could have gone," he said. "Let's see the devastation."
The Martin Agency had previously worked with Ben Tricklebank at
Domani Studios on JFK Library's multi-awarded "We Choose the
Moon," which recreated the 40th
anniversary of the Apollo Moon
Landing. Since then, Mr. Tricklebank had moved to production
company Tool. "We followed him
around," said Mr. Williams. "And as the project became more
film-based, it was great to have
The team said that both projects boast the same depth of
painstaking research, and the challenges in "Moon" are present in
"Clouds" as well. "We write the story down, figure out what to
include and condense into something innovative," said Mr.
Fiction, Sometimes Harder than Fact
"The big difference is the alternate version of events," he
added. Although one might expect the team to be able to take some
creative liberties here, this portion was meticulously researched,
with factors like weather, weapons used and strategies utilized
being taken into account for what that alternate 2012 would look
like. That was crucial to ensuring "What-if" portion seemed
plausible, he said. Much of the basis for the alternate film was
Mr. Swedin's book, "When Angels Wept," which deals with what could
have happened if the crisis had not been averted.