Last month at JFK airport, a smart-mouthed snott ball accosted travelers as they made their way to their terminals. Mucinex, along with McCann New York and health unit McCann Humancare, brought their slimy mascot Mr. Mucus to life on a real-time billboard in which the character would crack wise at people who walked past.
Just in time for flu season, the life-size phlegm globule appeared on a digital display at the American Airlines terminal, where he interacted with passersby in real-time, sneezing on them, joking about passing on the flu and checking to see if any of his mates were hanging out in their noses.
"We have always had the ambition of giving our little booger more of a role in culture, to get him out of people's chests and out into the world," said McCann NY Co-CCO Tom Murphy. "This seemed like a great way to do that."
The client's brief was simple: "Let's make Mr. Mucus a cultural icon and let's do it in a new and surprising way," said CD Nic Howell. "People want to interact with him because he's got a great voice, and we've been able to bring him into modern times."
But bringing him to life was quite the technical challenge. Mr. M was manned in real-time, behind the scenes by an actor who sounds and looks a lot like T.J. Miller, voice of Mr. Mucus in the TV spots. He was outfitted with motion capture suiting -- an Xsense MVN full-body wearable and a Facewares helmet, which were able to translate his body and facial movements to the animated Mr. M on the digital billboard via Unreal Engine gaming software.
According to the agency, films such as "Ted" and "X-Men" have used the Xsens suit to create its characters, but this is the first time the mo-cap wearable has been combined with Unreal Engine for a real-time experience.
Mr. Howell said that using such new technology, apparently previously untouched in the brand space, was one of the biggest challenges. That, along with the fact that the stunt happened on Valentine's Day. "We all had to make it up to our significant others," said CD Geoff Bentz.