Looking Beyond, Looking Forward

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Ford "Bold Moves"
@radical.media is arguably the most learned production company in ventures outside of traditional spot work, having cut its teeth on branded projects such as Axe's The Gamekillers and Nike's Battlegrounds in addition to features like Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. The Ford Bold Moves website, produced with JWT, was a different kind of monster—a wildly ambitious, brand-sponsored tell-all in which the sagging Ford corporation attempted to chronicle its turnaround efforts. With the true-blue American automaker at ragged ends, JWT brokered access from the boardrooms to the factory floors, enabling @radical directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, who also shot Monster and contributed to The Sundance Channel's Iconoclasts series and The History Channel's Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America, to find more than enough Ford stories to fill the 30-episode scope. "We really almost structured it as you would do a news magazine," says Justin Wilkes, EP/head of content at @radical.media. "We had a core team of producers and directors throughout the project that had the ability to get crews on the ground." With over 50 people working on the project at its peak, the crew was able to pinpoint areas of Ford's reconstruction to highlight, an insight sharpened by rapid audience response online. "We were able to put this thing online and instantly get a response," says Wilkes. "As filmmakers it became interesting because we were creating this real-time mechanism with the audience that was commenting on what they liked, what they didn't like. It really allowed us to custom tailor what we wanted to cover and what people had an appetite for."

Microsoft Windows Vista: Clearification
Microsoft Windows Vista: Clearification
Microsoft "Clearification"
When McCann-Erickson and Microsoft decided to go all out with the launch of the new Windows Vista operating system, San Francisco-based Mekanism was there from the start, working alongside McCann ECD Rob Bagot to craft the multimedia commercials and entertainment affair known as "Clearification." Centered around comedian Demetri Martin, the campaign's main portal was a website, Clearification.com, which housed a series of episodic shorts starring Martin, as well as a flash animated puppet blog, in which the funnyman delivered short, daily doses of dry witticisms. All were also tied into Martin's Microsoft-sponsored comedy tour, which culminated in an hour-long special on Comedy Central (see Creativity, November 2006). The effort required Mekanism's entire arsenal of offerings: creative ideation; live action, animation and online production, while it also made use of the company's expertise in distributing and tracking content after it launches into the ether.

The campaign earned a Silver Lion at Cannes but perhaps more important, it yielded some significant lessons in navigating the new media space. "The whole process is really decentralizing," observes Mekanism President/EP Jason Harris. "One of the animated jokes from Demetri went off the charts with half a million views, one of the live action shorts got hundreds of thousands of hits, while other pieces would get blips." Co-founder/director Tommy Means now realizes that "something you don't have to make as big of a commitment to is really good. We typically do a lot of episodic stuff, in which you have to understand the first piece to understand the third. Sometimes, that's not such a good idea and standalone is better. Episodic is good to get people coming back, but you don't want it to hinge on that."

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