Microsoft Advertising and Y&R New York turned to international visual effects, design and brand communications company Gravity to create an original, long-form web content piece featuring gaming personality Felicia Day.
Press release from Gravity:
New York, New York – Microsoft Advertising and Y&R New York turned to international visual effects, design and brand communications company Gravity to create an original, long-form web content piece promoting various Microsoft tools. The piece, which runs over four minutes in length, features on-line gaming personality Felicia Day.
The Gravity-produced content piece, which launched on the Internet earlier this year, was commissioned by Microsoft Advertising to appeal to CMOs and media buying agencies, so that they will consider using the innovative advertising tools available from Microsoft. These tools, including the MSN portal, Windows Mobile,Skype and Xbox, can be utilized as media outlets by which to reach millions of Internet users. Felicia Day is the creator and star of "The Guild," an on-line web series about gamers. To date, “The Guild” has drawn over 150 million viewings during the five years of its existence.
Said Zviah Eldar, Gravity’s CEO and Chief Creative Officer, “It is a very exciting time for us at Gravity as we are being asked more frequently to create branded content that will be shared in social media outlets by various target audiences. For Y&R, we wanted to create a ‘world’ for Microsoft Advertising that would emphasize its powerful combination of MSN, Skype, Windows Mobile and Xbox in an informative way, while also being fun, engaging and something that media planners, buyers and marketers would find worthy of sharing.”
Bob Samuel, Gravity’s CMO/EP, adds, "We were flattered and excited to get the call from Y&R to work at such an early phase in this project's development. Our Digital Effects Supervisor, Yuval Levy, led two Gravity teams for this assignment: one in NY and one in Tel Aviv. He worked closely with the Y&R team and Director Nathy Aviram (also Y&R’s Head of Content Production) In previz, design, live action design and all of the visual VFX work. In the end, Gravity delivered 88 VFX shots (of the 89 total shots) for this four-minute piece. It was a great challenge for us on a super-tight timeline…and I think we nailed it."
Win Peniston, Gravity’s Chief Digital Officer, continues, “Our approach for this project was to make what was essentially a B-to-B piece of messaging feel a lot more like a consumer communication spot. And working with Microsoft, Y&R and Felicia Day to tell this story certainly helped achieve that, while also helping craft a visually arresting story that will drive the content’s proliferation across all of the relevant social channels.”
Gravity’s Digital Effects Supervisor Yuval Levy comments, “Our biggest challenge was transforming a very informative script, discussing a variety of high-technology tools and applications, within an interesting setting and unique world for the viewer. Working closely with the agency, we developed a digital ‘real life’ world for Microsoft, where we inserted Felicia Day having a variety of intriguing adventures. We utilized a great number of the visual cues that already exist within the various Microsoft products, embellished them, and brought them to life on a broader playing field. This included cues such as the blue color, clouds and rainbows from Skype, the butterflies from the MSN logo, the Xbox pyramid from Xbox, and other highly recognizable visual assets. Our goal was to take these hi-end technological tools and explain them in a low-tech, visual way -- for example: a deliveryman brings Felicia a pizza within the Xbox world. We wanted to create a visually we also wanted to convey the message that unique Microsoft media outlets are incredibly simple and effective in the ‘real world.’ “
In the piece, we see Felicia Day driving a car with very obvious stock footage backdrops. “Driving” by the Taj Mahal, London city streets, Western battle scene, and a futuristic landscape, as she says, “Hello, I’m the brand Felicia Day. Microsoft Advertising asked me to talk about their innovative advertising solutions.” Felicia is next joined by an exuberant Microsoft employee, who welcomes her to the “Gallery of infinite, yet measurable, reach,” a fantasy depiction of the Microsoft campus. The women, ala “Alice in Wonderland,” then enter “the Mobile Home,” where they encounter a room filled with mobile phones. There, along with two (freakishly small) male workers, they learn about new interactive ad units, including “Dynamo,” that scale and play video on mobile phones.
Next, the two women walk a stairway in the sky, while discussing the fact that Skype is a part of Microsoft, helping make Microsoft Advertising number one in reach in the U.S. While standing on a puffy cloud, Felicia the “Brand” talks with herself, Felicia the person, via Skype. Hopping into a roller coaster type mini car, the women travel quickly inside a huge X-Box unit, otherwise known as the “den of creativity.” There, Felicia learns that through X-Box, advertising on TV is now truly interactive. Felicia’s host explains that “Simple, scalable, connected, innovative solutions, all across multiple platforms,” are the mandate for Microsoft Advertising. As Felicia drives away, she says, “Now it’s up to you to find out what amazing stories Microsoft Advertising can tell about your brand.”
Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.