As far as agency producers go, Pam Scheideler will tell you herself: she leans towards "the really technical side." So technical, it turns out, that it only took a few minutes for Winston Binch, Crispin's integrated head of interactive production, and Scott Prindle, interactive technical director, to realize she has what it takes to run complicated projects, like the relaunch of VW.com. The two senior integrated figures met with Scheideler in Miami over lunch in the summer of 2006, and within weeks she was an executive integrated producer at the agency, cracking on the automaker's massive web revamp.
Scheideler says the site initially lacked the tools for interaction, things to help consumers "be part of the brand," and the overhaul would be a huge undertaking. "It was like an urban planning project, it was like the Big Dig. It wasn't something that would go up in three months." She worked with a team of 20 developers and four quality assurance people to break the huge task into portions that were a "balance between custom-crafted and large scale reproduction; you can't handcraft thousands of pages," Scheideler says. "So that's something that's [part of the] design system." Almost ten months after she arrived, the main site went out the door and the team focused on incremental new releases.
A New York state native, Scheideler picked up project management skills at dot-com standard-bearers ZEFER and Niteo through the first half of the Oughties, and further developed her design chops executing creative ideas as a producer at Method and then at her own venture, Fuego5?all of which provided her with an impressive portfolio that included projects for Sun and the redesign of Kiehls.com.
Her other Crispin assignments have included the Alliance for Climate Protection's site, thisisreality.org, and the agency's recent Microsoft "Real PC" campaign. No matter what the job, "I've always tried to bring the development perspective to the creative," she says. "[Other places] you have your creative stakeholder, and then you have developers. One thing CPB understands is your developers are also creative. We're all very invested and respectful of each other and everybody's craft."
Microsoft "Real PC"
The spots starring celebrities, Microsoft employees and Bill Gates himself asserting their PC-ness were just the starting point for CPB's "Real PC" campaign, which also encouraged consumers from N.Y. to London to upload video clips and images onto Windows sites to show how they too, were PCs. Digitally speaking, the project required loads of data to be processed, parsed and output onto screens big and small?like those in London's Tube station and NYC's Times Square?and then finally passed along to social media and standard channels like TV spots and banners.
When a street team would cajole a "PC," say in Times Square, into uploading a photo, the shot didn't just go onto the digital billboard; it also went back to the person as a photo of the experience, with the potential to appear in aTV entry or banner placement. The project as a whole seemed to require a series of trust falls; technology partners helped to interlink various stages of the process, passing along data and consumer-generated elements. "We were quickly trying to build out this infrastructure so these things could come together, making sure all of our partners were ready," Scheideler says. "That's part of my interest in the [production] group; being able to manage something that's so tightly integrated requires a lot of coordination."
"[Real PC] was more about building a bonfire of energy around participating and expressing yourself for a campaign," Scheideler explains. Initial seeding gave way to homepage takeovers on MSN and Yahoo! And when those Real PCs became part of broadcast spots "it fueled the fire again," she says. Overall, "building software for a software company is nerve-wracking," says Scheideler. "We were working with very seasoned, integrated marketers who had been through similar things. For me, it was great, like surfing a huge wave."