The limited time we had to do it. We sold the idea in May. We had to have the first site up by June, with an extensive backstory written and in place. We were doing something that hadn't been done before, so there was no map. Fun but challenging.
Describe the campaign and why it was a good approach.
It was a piece of live interactive theater that played out in real-time over a four-month period and involved just about every medium you can imagine, including five separate websites. The inspiration for that method of storytelling was the target. Gamers are predisposed to stories that they can actually participate in. It's also important to remember that it's only a hoax in retrospect. While the experience unfolded the goal was to make it feel plausible, at least to part of the target. We also wanted some people to dismiss it immediately. It was the argument between those two groups that powered the campaign.
Do you think award shows are equipped to recognize work of this (not easily categorized) nature?
Like the rest of the advertising business, the awards shows are in transition. Some are able to recognize work like this. Some aren't. The laggards seem to be outside the U.S. right now, where the media environment is simpler and the 30-second spot is still worshipped above all else.
What did you learn from the experience of doing this campaign?
I think we got a peek at the future of the client-agency relationship. Things like Beta-7 cannot be created in the traditional agency structure and on traditional timelines. To pull it off we had to create a splinter cell that consisted of the client, the agency creatives, producers, planners, account folks and editors, as well as people from our outside partners, Chelsea, Haxan, and GMD. Oh, and let's not forget the lawyers. Lots of lawyers. Everybody had to be on-call 24-7. The level of collaboration and cooperation between all of us and our client was unprecedented. Quite a ride.