#survivalbillboard: Craft London and m:united/McCann London gave 8 Lara Croft fans an extreme endurance test to promote the launch of Rise of the Tomb Raider on Xbox.
Video game releases are usually hyped up with videos. Some are remarkable, achieving millions of views by game fans. m:united, the agency set up a year ago by Interpublic to handle its Microsoft account wanted to reach a wider audience.
So m:united\mcCann London took its ad into the real world and outdoors.
The agency created a competition that required people to stand on a “survival billboard” in Southwark, London, for 24 hours while they were subjected to intense wind, Arctic cold, sudden heat, and snow.
Viewers could watch their deterioration in real life or live. They were also able to vote for what kind of harsh weather conditions with which competitors were blasted next. The last person standing in the Survival of the Grittiest competition, Adam Carr, won “a trip inspired by Tomb Raider.” He’d endured 20.75 hours on the billboard.
[#survivalbillboard winner, Adam Carr]
What follows is the behind the scenes story by Craft London producer, Lois Newcombe, and head of integrated production, Sergio Lopez, of the project that was made from conception to completion in just four weeks.
“The brief from Xbox contained a number of different outputs in terms of how they wanted to run the ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ campaign. The game, of course, is iconic but as a prequel to the existing games Xbox wanted us to create something that would speak to the original brand but approach Lara’s story in a new way. We wanted to play on the resilience and power of Lara Croft and see if people were up to the task beyond the game. Because of the way we run our team here, we were able to put forward the idea of ‘the survival billboard’ as part of the creative,” Lopez explained.
Craft’s people power allows all production elements to be handled by one team. Newcombe continued, “Our set up means that we are able to look at the campaign as a whole, bring a very complex creative vision to life and work out the most effective way to use the budget. We had four weeks to put together the campaign and it wouldn’t have been possible without the structure that we have here.”
The billboard was streamed live throughout the process, on a custom-built website. With eight contestants, live voting on four extreme weather conditions (wind, rain, snow and heat). All the different variables had to be planned in meticulous detail.
“On the day everything went as smoothly as we could have wished for. We’ve still got scars from when live streaming was first introduced as a branded content technique back in the day, so with our joint past experience we were able to put together an exhaustive scenario plan. The real challenge was that we had no idea how long the experience would last. The contestants could have all jumped within two hours or lasted a number of days. Within an unknown space of time we also had to keep an audience engaged and have the capacity to react effectively to public interaction with the project.
“It was interesting to use the data we were receiving from the different on-line channels to decide which was the best use of different camera angles, characters and weather effects to grip the audience. We were ready to employ whichever was most effective to craft our narrative and bring the creative ambition to life. For example, the public felt that we had too many breaks with game previews so we adapted our “run of show” within the hour.”
Lois added, “It was important that we tested the billboard beforehand. The team wanted the project to have a filmic quality so we needed full control over the lighting and weather elements. We found that the snow created challenges. If it was too cold, it froze and obscured the print branding. We had to ensure that the product we used melted quickly. Not only that, we wanted the weather to be a challenge but not an impossibility for the contestants, so we also worked closely with medics to determine the degree to which we could employ the effects.”
Custom offices were positioned behind the billboard, housing a 40 strong crew – the Craft and M:United team, a film crew, weather effects operatives, online and social team, medics and a health and safety team.
|Head of integrated production||Sergio Lopez|
|Executive creative director||Robert Doubal & Laurence Thompson|
|Creative directors (art director / copywriter)||Jamie Mietz & Sanjiv Mistry|
|Creatives (art director / copywriter)||Jacob Bjordal & Jim Nilsson|
|Agency producer||Lois Newcombe|
|Production||Craft / Momentum / MRM|