A single violin strain is heard as we see a man in a lazy backstroke, floating in a jewel-colored pool. A few carefully-placed detail shots display tangerine towels, red berries and a woman peering from the window of a chateau at the swimmer. Suddenly, an orange sports car hurtles over the hedges and into the pool. As the camera pulls back from the swimmer's shocked face, we see a television screen that says, "continued at moretosee.com." The spot is most consumers' introduction to Wieden + Kennedy's new worldwide interactive campaign for electronics company Sharp, and true to its tag, there is way more to see than the Errol Morris-directed spots, which began airing on October 15. Two others show the same event Rashomon-style, from the perspectives of the woman and the car's driver, and for those willing to continue the story online, a complex and enormous fictional world unfolds, revealing multiple narratives, community-based message boards, and a puzzle that reveals a real-life treasure hunt, though the prizes are yet to be revealed. To break beyond the screen, there will also be a temporary gallery setup in New York's SoHo that will integrate artistic ideas from the campaign with product displays and host parties. It's the latest in the wave of creative that is taking advertising and brand-building beyond the small screen.
Like Sega's "Beta 7," Burger King's "Subservient Chicken," Mini's "Men of Metal" and the "I Love Bees" game promoting the video game Halo 2, the Sharp campaign builds an online community and buzz through imaginative creative. If it sounds complicated, that's just the way Wieden + Kennedy creative director Ty Montague intended it. "We could have done self-contained spots with all of the technical information and entertainment value," he says. "But we think that the smarter thing to do is not to say it, but to do it, to ask viewers to spend more time with the brand, and entertain them while honoring the product." Billing the project as a way to cope with the movement away from the 30-second spot, Montague calls interactive campaigns "more sticky," meaning that the potential for brand-building is greater than simple television campaigns because people can become members of an online community, and spread the word to others.
The Sharp campaign includes the spots, print from Wieden + Kennedy/Amsterdam, and an online story and puzzle developed in conjunction with Chelsea Pictures and the Haxans, who teamed with the agency on "Beta 7." Orlando-based interactive company GMD Studios produced online creative, and design collective Tomato designed the product websites.
Mike, Peter and Natalie's story was conceived by Wieden + Kennedy New York copywriter Andy Carrigan, who started sketching out basic plots while the project was in early stages. @radical.media director Errol Morris became involved in the process and gravitated toward the story of this love triangle, and the afternoon in which the three witness the car careening into the pool. "As we took that basic structure and premise, we literally locked ourselves in a room and beat out a story of these three people," Carrigan says of a week-long session with head creatives, GMD CEO Brian Clark, Greg Hale and Mike Monello of Haxan Films, Wieden web production manager Darren Himelbrook and strategic planner Andy Lindblade, known as the "war room." "It was probably very much like beating out a screenplay."
The story revolves around Peter, who has found the first of three treasure-filled urns that were hidden by Dagobert Steinitz, the late anthropologist and puzzler who held strange beliefs about human evolution that connect to other global and historical mysteries. Peter meets Natalie, a former dental hygienist and con-woman who is involved with Mike, an artist and double-crosser himself. All three are searching for the urns while trying to get clues from each other, which include anagrams, sound files, keys and ancient symbolism both real and fictional. According to Clark, the team scrutinized every event and action to make the characters sympathetic and interesting. "From that came this extensively complex road map of what needed to happen on each day to make this come together in a dramatic fashion," Clark says. Also present in the war room were writers Mary Johnson and Jim Gunshanan, who serve as the campaign's actors, writing as the story's characters, which also include skull-replica dealer Norman Dean Norman, webmaster and puzzler Charlie Tan and Marlene, a woman whose name appears in a clue. Playing himself is expert puzzle writer Paul Hoffman, also known as Dr. Crypton, who created the real-life hunt and helped the writers place key clues.
The puzzling community, as well as the obsessively curious, started digging into the story as early as the first weekend that the spots were running, and 10 days into the campaign message boards boasted more than 1,000 posts. Some die-hard members started posting in code to protect their progress, while others recapped what was known to encourage teamwork. "The people in the forums have come together and started working as a community much sooner than we anticipated, which is wonderful to see," says Monello. Most everyone has come to it with the right spirit and mindset, and they are having fun with it. As the community grows, it will get even better."
8www.moretosee.com - campaign home page and Sharp product display
8peter.moretosee.com - Peter's character diary
8mike.moretosee.com - Mike's character diary
8natalie.moretosee.com - Natalie's character diary
8www.steinitzpuzzlers.com - puzzle home page and discussion message board
8www.steinitzdds.com - clue pages relating to Steinitz Puzzlers and character narratives
Partnered sites linking to clues and information:
8www.ebay.com, 8www.msn.com, 8 www.snopes.com
CREDITS Agency: Wieden + Kennedy/New York and Tokyo CDs: Ty Montague, Todd Waterbury, John Jay, Sumiko Sato ADs: Alan Buchanan, Stuart Jennings CW: Andy Carrigan Strategic Planning: Jennifer Colman, Andy Lindblade Agency EP: Gary Krieg Agency Producers: Temma Shoaf, Jesse Wann Broadcast "More to See" Director: Philippe Andre/Villains EP: Robin Benson Editor: Adam Pertofsky/Rock, Paper, Scissors Composer: Jonathan Elias/Elias Arts Visual Effects: BUF, Paris Telecine: Fergus McCall/The Mill, N.Y. "The Pool," "The Key," The Tooth" Director: Errol Morrissemail@example.com DP: Derek Wolski EPs: Frank Scherma, Jon Kamen Editor: Stephane Dumonceau/Mad River Post VFX Artists: Rick Tanner, Tim Crean Sound: Glen Landrum, Phillip Loeb/Sound Lounge Sound Design: Andy Newell/Ripe Sound Telecine: Tim Masick/Company 3 Music: Tosca Web Creative EP/Partner: Steve Wax/Chelsea Pictures Director/Producer: Mike Monello/Haxan Creative Consultant: Greg Hale/Haxan Production Manager: Darren Himebrook Producer/CEO: Brian Clark/GMD Studios Lead Developer: Jamie Miller www.moretosee.com Design Direction: Tomato Producer: Randall Makiej Developers: E.J. Meblakos, Jason Buzzeo, Jason Snell, Ming Thompsen Motion Graphics: Kyle McCulloch 3-D Renderings: Matt Reslier, Joseph Cross Print Agencies: Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam and Tokyo CDs: Susan Hoffman, Steve Turner, John Jay, Sumiko Sato ADs: Ayse Altinok, Steve Turner CWs: Joe DeSouza, Kalle Hellzen Strategic Planning: Simon Neate-Stidson Photographer: Tierney Gearon