TRANSMEDIA:WHAT IT MEANS FOR BRANDS
INDEX •	 What	is	Transmedia?	    	 Getting	the	Most	Out	of	a	Great	Story	    	 The	Channels •	 Transmedia	for	Brands		    ...
What is Transmedia?Transmedia	 is	 loosely	 defined	 as	 a	 new	 storytelling	 method	 that	 extends	elements	of	a	primary...
The	 history	 of	 Transmedia	 will	 put	 this	 in	 a	 little	 more	 perspective.	 You	 could	say	that	Transmedia	has	been	...
Transmedia for BrandsWhat	makes	Transmedia	possible,	and	lucrative	at	this	particular	moment,	is	the	digital	connectivity	...
Implementing TransmediaThe	primary	benefits	of	implementing	a	Transmedia	project	are	the	attractive-ness	of	the	primary	st...
Rules of the RoadThere	are	some	basic	rules	of	the	road	that	should	be	followed	when	executing	a	Transmedia	project. 1. Fo...
The CasesStar WarsThe	best	way	to	tell	a	Transmedia	case	is	by	highlighting	an	example	everyone	                     From	...
The	 launch	 of	 the	 Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes	 video	 game,	like	 everything	 else	 Star Wars,	 had	 to	...
ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liarsa	Band	Digital	initiativePretty Little Liars	is	a	teen	mystery/drama	TV	series	that	airs	 ...
choice	 takes	 the	 viewer	 to	 the	 conclusion	 of	 that	 episode.	 When	 experience	is	complete,	the	viewer	can	play	it	...
Cracker Barrel	a	Band	Digital	initiativeThe	Cracker	Barrel	case	is	different	because	it	exemplifies	a	fictional	universe	t...
A	user-driven	360˚	cinematic	HD	video	first	person	POV	virtual	visit.	Interactions	can	occur	with	just	about	any	element	t...
The Future of TransmediaTransmedia’s	application	is	bound	by	the	limitations	of	time	and	willingness	of	studios,	publisher...
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Transmedia: What it Means for Brands

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A primer on the relatively new practice of harnessing transmedia narratives for brand value.

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Transmedia: What it Means for Brands

  1. 1. TRANSMEDIA:WHAT IT MEANS FOR BRANDS
  2. 2. INDEX • What is Transmedia? Getting the Most Out of a Great Story The Channels • Transmedia for Brands The Restraints • Implementing Transmedia Three Questions Brands Must Ask Rules of the Road Avoiding Pitfalls • The Cases Star Wars ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars Cracker Barrel • The Future of Transmedia a digital connection agency ©2011 Band Digital, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  3. 3. What is Transmedia?Transmedia is loosely defined as a new storytelling method that extends elements of a primary storyline across multiple platforms to create an interactive, multi-layered fiction greater than the sum of its parts. A little wordy, but accurate. Transmedia is not a marketing plan or repurposing of content - it’s telling a story appropriately and organically across all platforms. So it’s perhaps inaccurate to call it “Transmedia,” since that name implies emphasis on the diversity of the media components and not on the diversifica-tion of the story elements, which is actually a crucial feature. The Producer’sGuild of America definition underscores the emphasis on multiple storylines, and not platforms: “A Transmedia Narrative project or franchise must consist of three (or more) narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any of the following platforms: Film, Television, Short Film, Broadband, Publish- ing, Comics, Animation, Mobile, Special Venues, DVD/Blu-ray/CD-ROM, Narrative Commercial and Marketing rollouts, and other technologies that may or may not currently exist. These narrative extensions are NOT the same as repurposing material from one platform to be cut or repurposed to different platforms.” Social Networks Messaging Gaming STORY Mobile Real-World Apps Events Theatrical TVThe Transmedia ecosystem (as illustrated with The Conversation Prism by Brian Solis and JESS3 theconversationprism.com) a digital connection agency ©2011 Band Digital, Inc. All Rights Reserved 1
  4. 4. The history of Transmedia will put this in a little more perspective. You could say that Transmedia has been around as long as storytelling itself. From when 7 Myths of Transmediacavemen hunted, then told their story around a campfire, and then carved those by Henry Jenkinsimages into a wall. But that’s a little too far back. The actual term “Transmedia” was coined in 2003 by MIT Media Studies Professor Henry Jenkins. He used the term in an article titled Transmedia Storytelling for the publication Technol-ogy Review. He’s now a Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California–a fitting career path for a man that envisioned the future dynamic of storytelling in a diverse and digital age.Transmedia in the mainstream began as a response by the entertainment industry to diversify and monetize large investments in big movie and television properties. For example, launching specific movie-based comic books prior to the release so potential viewers have more back-story and increased primary narrative excitement prior to release–like Batman. Or, like the LOST television series with its wikis, comics, minisites and fan-driven online properties. What both of these examples highlight is the requirement for a fictional universe Myth 1: Transmedia Storytelling refers to any strategy involving more large and dense enough to support multiple narratives in other mediums. Market- than one media platform.ing has typically played an ancillary role in the growth of Transmedia primarily as a supporting partner. Many of the sub-narrative entertainment properties are Myth 2: Transmedia is basically a new promotional strategy.created not only as story extensions, but also as additional advertising vehicles. For example, the comic series that bridged the first two seasons of Heroes was Myth 3: Transmedia means games.an exclusive Nissan Versus sponsorship. Myth 4: Transmedia is for geeks.Getting the Most Out of a Great Story Myth 5: Transmedia requires a large budget.Transmedia is getting marketing attention now because of the multitude of plat- Myth 6: Everything should forms that exist today in which to consume content. More distribution channels go transmedia.mean more opportunity to reach an audience–and to discover new ones. The flip side of so many channels is that you can get lost in the shuffle or even Myth 7: Transmedia is “so ten minutes ago.”overextend your reach by trying too hard. We’re definitely a society of “more, more, more.” Constant consumption. A little like Cookie Monster, we want more See full article here: cookies–before we even finish the first one. http://www.fastcompany.com/1745746/seven- myths-about-transmedia-storytelling-debunkedMore for the sake of more is never a good thing. So how you tell your story has never been more important. LOST did a very good job of organically growing their story, creating the desire for more, and turning a passive viewing experience into a phenomenon. But copycats such as The Event on NBC failed when it tried to mimic the LOST format. Maybe they got marketing confused with storytelling. The ChannelsAs technology advances so do the avenues for telling stories. The Internet Some select samples from the LOST alone has opened up the floodgates for distribution. It’s like the Wild West again. fanverse that ultimately contributed People are constantly inventing new ways to get their story out into the world. to the show’s long-term success.Not only are the storytellers continually evolving, the audience is too. They don’t want to sit back and watch, they want to participate. Interactive, gaming and An unofficial LOST fan site: http://www.LOST-tv.com/mobile platforms have given storytellers the ability to dive deeper and further immerse audiences. Wiki–LOST Encyclopedia: http://LOSTpedia.wikia.The channels that can be used include just about every medium that exists in com/wiki/Main_Page the marketing catalog. But because Transmedia lends itself so well to digital, it LOST fan site:affords the opportunity to embrace new trends in marketing–and more emerging http://LOST-media.com/technologies. This includes custom gaming, social networks, interactive video, virtual worlds and location-based services. a digital connection agency ©2011 Band Digital, Inc. All Rights Reserved 2
  5. 5. Transmedia for BrandsWhat makes Transmedia possible, and lucrative at this particular moment, is the digital connectivity between media–the collective attention that rapidly gathers around topics and the speed at which ideas can be shared within a fan group. Digital storytelling is a staple By the time the last season of LOST aired, there were hundreds of websites, of Transmedia campaigns. The following are examples of excel-fan-fiction stories and live tweet-ups dedicated to discussing the clues parsed lence in narrative interaction.out in the various narratives. The only place one could assemble a cohesive understanding of the extended story was in the fan universe (although one didn’t need to know all this understand and enjoy the main show storyline). The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore http://www.fastcodesign.com/1664419/Transmedia offers tremendous opportunity for brands to engage on an unprec- all-star-pixar-animator-creates-edented level, given the amount of passion, time and sharing involved. Most astounding-kids-book-on-ipad marketing involvement–at least early on–will rely on sponsoring extensions of An interactive app for the iPad that lets people large non-commercial fictional universes, since that is where the deepest fan experience the book the way they choose. bases exist. Motion Picture Inside http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/The Restraints jul/13/horror-social-media-inside The way marketing is established right now, creating their own Transmedia A new “social film experience” universes will be a challenge for brands. Not because of lack of resources, directed invites Facebook, Twitter and YouTube users to participate in an but because of the requirement for the depth of the fictional universe. This in-production movie in real time. commitment could prove to be too long-term and beyond the scope of a typical year’s plan. JK Rowling’s Pottermore http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/ jun/23/harry-potter-website-pottermore Brands that have taken a stab at this (though it was likely not intentional) include Old Spice, with their well-known and highly publicized “Old Spice Guy” campaign. An interactive website that extends the Harry Also, Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World.” In both cases, the charac- Potter series without adding a new book.ters are extended into other media. What’s problematic is that the fictional worlds MoMA Talk to Me exhibitionthey occupy are not large enough for true narrative, but really only for more http://www.moma.org/visit/advertising messages. So, while these are successful as integrated campaigns, calendar/exhibitions/1080 they do not translate into Transmedia narratives. A digital collection of artwork that explores the communication between people and things.The Transmedia opportunity represents a tremendous degree of consumer passion and interaction if it can be architected. The narrative extensions and TRON Graphic Novel disneydigitalbooks.go.com/tronthe ability for fans to co-create stories are what transform entertainment into Transmedia engagement and participation. The current digital environment An interactive website that tells a story using enables this participation with tools for the audience to create and share. For HTML5 (a collaboration between Disney Publishing Worldwide and Internet Explorer 9).the marketer adept enough to harness this energy, the rewards are substantial brand love and that coveted thing called engagement. Old Spice: A great multimedia campaign but not Transmedia. There is a strong character but no story arc to extend. a digital connection agency ©2011 Band Digital, Inc. All Rights Reserved 3
  6. 6. Implementing TransmediaThe primary benefits of implementing a Transmedia project are the attractive-ness of the primary story, the intensity of the user experience, the diversity of execution and opportunity to reach diverse audiences and the ability to extend premier content for much smaller costs.The decision to implement is then based on the presence of an anchor storyline and whether leveraging ancillary storylines and content will attract and engage the appropriate audience–particularly if this is a “sponsoring brand” scenario.Three Questions Brands Must AskIf the opportunity to engage the primary story audience is appropriate, brands have three key questions that must be addressed for the program to take shape. 1. How cooperative is the primary Intellectual Property (IP) holder in terms of sharing licensed material? The answer to this question is typi- cally the one that determines eventual success or failure. The primary IP holder should be enthusiastic about the success of ancillary content without a debilitative clearance process. Obviously, if there is very little access or agreement about licensed material then the program will lack authentic hallmarks and not be attractive to a fan base. 2. How collaborative will the creative process be between the primary IP holder and the marketer? The relationships vary and the marketer needs to understand that access to content does not a Transmedia project make. Also, since the program is based on a story, it is critical to have quality writing and concepting talent to manufacture a successful extension to a popular narrative. 3. What level of investment? One of the virtues of Transmedia is that there is a wide range of content extensions available. It can be as elaborate as a live action Web series or as simple as a gaming app. The point is to understand what is essential to produce in order to generate the fan response. Brands must strive to be clever and to leverage innate qualities in the primary narra- tive. This doesn’t necessarily require huge production and media budgets. a digital connection agency ©2011 Band Digital, Inc. All Rights Reserved 4
  7. 7. Rules of the RoadThere are some basic rules of the road that should be followed when executing a Transmedia project. 1. Focus on telling a good story: This may sound obvious, but it is harder than it sounds. There’s a reason the anchor story is popular and if the ancil- lary content rings hollow or false, the fan interest will quickly turn from inter- est to disdain. 2. Make it interactive: Digital tools like “choose your own adventure” engines and user-directed 360˚ video allow the user to drive the story and make choices, increasing engagement. 3. Give fans the reins to create: Letting fans create new and original content out of IP material is probably the most attractive and engaging experience. It is difficult for most licensors to feel comfortable setting the boundaries for this type of interaction. 4. Make it easily shared: Since the audience shares a passion for the original story, word of mouth will be the primary driver of the ancillary content. Make it easy to get the word out. 5. Make it easy to find relative to the anchor story: The audience knows where to find the anchor story, so make sure that the ancillary content is right there with it. Either on the same Web page, in search, or with tags. Avoiding PitfallsBe careful of fooling an audience. Most Transmedia projects will behave like real news articles or other Web properties. When done right, they can be highly attractive mysteries for the right fan base to solve. If done wrong, they can be misleading. Even worse, they can appear unethical. It’s important to remember this is fiction.Transmedia campaigns tap into the feverish passion of a fan base and engage them around supplementary storylines. These campaigns require time and focused attention from an audience. Therefore, Transmedia campaigns are typi-cally measured against the size of an audience, the amount of time spent on the material and the ultimate action taken (e.g., whether viewers created their own video, whether they played a game). a digital connection agency ©2011 Band Digital, Inc. All Rights Reserved 5
  8. 8. The CasesStar WarsThe best way to tell a Transmedia case is by highlighting an example everyone From toys to alternative animation, the knows–like the Star Wars franchise. Now, this is at an extreme level, but it’s for Star Wars universe goes on forever. this reason–its notoriety and depth of channel extensions make it easy to follow along.Star Wars was released in 1977. What’s interesting is that what is arguably the most storied franchise in cinematic history–and an extremely relevant example of Transmedia–was initially intended to be just one film. But that’s because the story was just the beginning... “It wasn’t long after I began writing Star Wars that I realized the story was more than a single film could hold.” - George LucasWhile developing the next two films, Lucas created such an elaborate back-story that he decided these first three films would be episodes 4,5, and 6 in what would be a six-film saga and the back-story would serve as the prequels to the films that he would make at a later date. The success of the first three films led Lucas to create The Expanded Star Wars Universe (ESWU) which encompasses all of the officially licensed, fictional background of the Star Wars universe. The expanded universe includes books, comic books, video games, spin-off films, television series, toys, and other media. Each distribution platform reached a different audience, yet stayed true to the Star Wars story. The creation of the Expanded Star Wars Universe not only increased the audience for the franchise–it likely saved it. To date, the Star Wars films alone have grossed over $4B worldwide. More importantly, the story continues and remains culturally relevant after more than 40 years. The Clone Wars animated television series has secured the next generation of fans as it has aired since 2003 and produced an animated feature film. Not surprisingly, the Clone Wars franchise has become a very successful video game franchise as well. a digital connection agency ©2011 Band Digital, Inc. All Rights Reserved 6
  9. 9. The launch of the Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes video game, like everything else Star Wars, had to successfully capture avid fan attention and guarantee an authentic narrative extension of the Clone Wars canon. Band Digital worked with animators, producers and writers to create a unique online command center with a neat twist that moved the fantasy one-step closer to reality. For the first time, fans could reproduce the holographic holocomm image, first made famous with Princess Leia and R2D2, with augmented reality. A virtual Yoda appeared on a marker, seemingly suspended in space, telling you your mission that would be fulfilled first through training on the website and then in the game. A series of story screens from Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes video game website. Fans received holocomm messages from Yoda through augmented reality.http://www.lucasarts.com/games/jointheclonewars/Now, a couple more case studies. These focus on specific channels that are used to extend a story. a digital connection agency ©2011 Band Digital, Inc. All Rights Reserved 7
  10. 10. ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liarsa Band Digital initiativePretty Little Liars is a teen mystery/drama TV series that airs on ABC Family. Based on the popular series of novels written by Sara Shepard, the show follows the lives of four girls whose clique falls apart after the disappearance of one of the girls. A year later, they begin receiving messages from a mysterious figure who threatens to expose their secrets. It’s this basis on mystery, and the nuances of each character, that lend it so well to the idea of Transmedia. ABC Family wanted to create an experience for viewers that would feed on their intense fanship. So with little money or time, Band Digital built a “Choose Your Own Adventure” (CYOA) experience based on unique footage filmed around one of the series subplots–totaling five episodes. These special episodes ran exclusively on the series website with a headline sponsorship from Microsoft Bing. This Web feature received millions of views with minutes of playing time. What was required to make this happen? First, a story fans were interested A teen drama that endlessly cycles in enough to pursue further. Second, a story scenario supportive of the main around a central mystery: The perfect narrative universe. Third, a vehicle that afforded fan involvement. In this case, it environment for spinning sub-stories.was the ability to choose what the character would do in the game. And finally, the ability to share that game experience with other fans.Band Digital worked directly with the writers and producers of the show to create the storylines (from concept to delivery). The fan experience needed to be authentic and serve a purpose to the overall story–the episodes should add depth to their series knowledge, not waste their time. Each episode provided background information on characters and served as teasers for future episodes. But sometimes, the episodes just served to pique interest and keep the audience guessing–so we never gave away too much. How it WorksEach CYOA episode has an intro. At its conclusion, two choices (prompts) appear on-screen asking the viewer which they would like to explore (rabbit hole). Once the viewer selects an option, another video begins to reveal the story. At the end of that video, the viewer is once again prompted to make another choice. This A “Choose Your Own Adventure” (CYOA) decision point. a digital connection agency ©2011 Band Digital, Inc. All Rights Reserved 8
  11. 11. choice takes the viewer to the conclusion of that episode. When experience is complete, the viewer can play it again to see what the other decision points revealed, or they can share their CYOA video with a friend.    A series of videos reveal clues about the mysterious central character.http://abcfamily.go.com/shows/pretty-little-liars/make-as-move?cid=adsales_q4fy11_binggame_promo  Tracking SuccessThe CYOA campaign is tracked using Google Analytics. Over one million people spent over three-and-a-half minutes online interacting with the content. And, the teaser for the series was leaked onto the Pretty Little Liars Facebook page, receiving over 2,000 likes and 500 comments within the first hour alone. a digital connection agency ©2011 Band Digital, Inc. All Rights Reserved 9
  12. 12. Cracker Barrel a Band Digital initiativeThe Cracker Barrel case is different because it exemplifies a fictional universe that is both the product and the brand. At Cracker Barrel, it isn’t just the food. Or just the store. It is a brand dedicated to delivering a consistent environmental experience. Guests can relax in a front porch rocking chair, shop for throw-back toys and hard-to-find candies, then dine on home style-cooking in a friendly, comfortable, country setting. But even for a company rooted in nostalgia, it knows digital is more important than ever to its brand-and that it was time to The folksy hallmarks of the Crackertranslate its brand story digitally. Barrel brand story: Open road signage, rocking chairs, checkers If you’ve been on a road trip in Cracker Barrel country, you’ve undoubtedly seen and the peg game.its outdoor campaign. Its frequent billboards are nothing if not consistent–in look and in message. And when it comes to its stores, Cracker Barrel takes every care for the likeness of the experience, down to the wall décor (which they source and store themselves). Crackerbarrel.com: The virtual narrative story extension of the real world restaurant experience.  So when Cracker Barrel decided to revamp their website, first and foremost was telling its brand story online. Not only did we redesign the site to be consistent with the in-store experience–and to streamline and incite purchase–we took great care in telling the Cracker Barrel story. Taking the TourNothing can explain Cracker Barrel better than actually being there. The sights, the smells, the sounds ... they all combine to create what is a signature Cracker Barrel brand experience. So we created a live-action, 360-degree interactive tour that allows guests to hang out on the front porch, browse and buy merchan-dise in the country store, and learn facts about the food while navigating through the dining room. a digital connection agency ©2011 Band Digital, Inc. All Rights Reserved 10
  13. 13. A user-driven 360˚ cinematic HD video first person POV virtual visit. Interactions can occur with just about any element through digital hotspots. This isn’t the hokey hotel 360 that leaps to mind. It’s cinematic quality, HD video in a full 360 degrees. And it’s video the user controls.But, what makes this video such a key element of the digital brand is its story-telling. The video is carefully choreographed to showcase the Cracker Barrel experience, leveraging known viewer behavior to prompt people through specific aspects of the video that best represent the experience. The viewer’s eye is continually drawn to a single family–a dad, mom and daughter–from enjoying the rocking chairs on the porch to sharing a meal in the dining room. The new website captures the Cracker Barrel brand story as exemplified in the real world experience. It encourages conversations through blogs and reviews, is designed to reach the unique needs and interests of a variety of target audi-ences, and reaches these audiences through many channels…seamlessly. a digital connection agency ©2011 Band Digital, Inc. All Rights Reserved 11
  14. 14. The Future of TransmediaTransmedia’s application is bound by the limitations of time and willingness of studios, publishers and networks to extend IP into uncharted territory. But the pressure to monetize content, extend advertising opportunities and attract an increasingly fragmented and fickle viewing audience will only see an increase in this activity. The biggest obstacle, and most fundamental change to Transmedia’s future, will be how IP is shared and managed. Currently, professional creative guilds are drafting rules about creation, ownership and rights for these ancillary produc-tions. Assuming that financial incentives will continue to support Transmedia production, here are some of the evolutions we might see: • Digital Publishing: Comics and graphic novels are popular extensions for serialized content, especially for fictional stories that involve a certain rabid fan base (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer). But traditional publishing can be Dark Horse Comics expensive. All of the major comic publishers are grappling with the online An online portal of digital comics offers distribution model and the need to move to digital to keep the format alive new publishing opportunities at with a broader audience. Once the cost of printing and distribution is taken darkhorse.com. out of the equation, expect to see more story extensions in this format. • User-Driven Stories: The creative and entertainment industry has a tolerant relationship with the fan fiction universe, which is an incredibly vibrant world of ordinary citizens re-creating their own versions of Supernatural or Dexter. And while we may not see outright support for this, we will see more ways to let users interact with and determine outcomes of official content. Imagine more intensive “Choose Your Own Adventure” digital series or technology that actually lets the audience interact with a live broadcast (more than just tweeting along). • Digital Content: Content hosts like YouTube are seeing the value of creat- DeviantART ing custom content for their channels. YouTube is planning a redesign for deviantART.com represents one of the January of 2012 that will allow for uncluttered content channels–called largest environments where fans write YouTube Originals. These big-budget creations will feature well known stars and create their own (unauthorized) versions of their favorite film, broadcast and draw a lot of attention from viewing audiences. More importantly, the and published stories. nature of the channel they are “broadcast” on affords the opportunity to extend the story in countless ways, include brands throughout, and create intimate interaction with viewers. • Unique Physical-Digital Experiences: With the evolution of location-based services, augmented reality, 3D web and other physical-digital connective technologies, expect to see narratives that can tap into the real world. Simple examples would include scavenger hunts and check-ins for narrative puzzle pieces. More elaborate examples could include augmented reality apps that let you see what a character sees in the real world.What will also evolve are fan’s expectations of fictional content. Clearly with the advent of rabid fan-fiction sites like deviantART, fans won’t wait for content Pottermorecreators to embellish or extend a good story. They’ll do it themselves. As the Rather than write more stories, J.K. digital world continues to make it easy to aggregate, consume and broadcast Rowling is developing a virtual Harryabout a very narrow topic, fans will expect that creators will offer more than Potter world where fans can live and the traditional, static primary story. A perfect example is the coming Pottermore, create their own open-ended adven-an interactive experience site created by J.K. Rowling and Sony dedicated to tures. pottermore.com/the Harry Potter universe. Since the primary Harry Potter narrative is finished, Pottermore offers an open-ended, fan-driven interactive gaming experience that never ends. a digital connection agency ©2011 Band Digital, Inc. All Rights Reserved 12

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