AToMiC Awards: Rethinking content, extending the consumer experience

Toronto agency Secret Location snagged four prizes for creating innovative digital companions for TV shows.

TARC-Online-01TV embraces transmedia 

Viewers today can’t get enough of their favourite programs, and second-screen digital companions are providing interactive, intimate details to satisfy their appetites for more.

And it seems Toronto’s Secret Location, an agency specializing in transmedia and branded content, is leading the pack with four award-winning projects for the History Channel’s Perfect Storms six-part documentary, CTV’s The Amazing Race Canada, Family Channel’s The Next Step and Teletoon’s Grojband.

Perfect Storms Interactive,” a digital companion to the doc, which visitors spent an average of four minutes navigating, recreated the disasters (ranging from a tsunami to mudslides) that the series featured. The agency not only created the visual effects, but also the narrative-driven activities and tasks for viewers to complete and subsequently experience the show’s content on a deeper level.

The agency also enabled viewers of The Amazing Race Canada to explore the show and its characters with three-minute video “gamisodes” that featured POV-style footage from the actual race course and custom mini-games that allowed fans to compete in online versions of the challenges the teams tackle on the show.

The-Next-Step-Interactive-03Shifting gears from an older demo to a younger one, Secret Location also helped create a digital program for youth dance show The Next Step. The agency produced and shot 30 interactive “Aftershow” episodes with the first two minutes airing after the show was broadcast on the Family Channel, and which pushed the audience to continue watching on a dedicated website.

Visitors could interact with polls, trivia and bonus episodes, and create their own version of the show. The “Dance Mashup” section of the site enabled visitors to play the role of choreographer and configure show characters (who were pre-recorded) into a minute-long dance routine, of which 60,000 have been created since launch.

Experience working on the youth-focused UGC platform paved the way for another digital companion, this time on Teletoon’s website, which linked online with the on-air broadcast, allowing kids to influence animated show Grojband through their interactions with a website widget.

The “Wicked Cool Transition Builder” let viewers create their own animated transitions, which are used to swipe across the screen between show scenes. Kids could click on items in a pre-set library of effects, objects, sounds and voices, and combine them to create a customized transition, with the chance of seeing them used during the run of the actual show.

In the first three months, more than 6,000 transitions were created.

VWVW’s Beetle drives deeper engagement

Call it a hybrid of branded content and transmedia, the Volkswagen documentary Once More: The Story of VIN 903847 is as much an interactive study of the Beetle’s role in North American culture as it is an emotional story about the car’s first owners.

The idea behind the interactive film, created with the help of agency Red Urban, was to position the company as more than just a car manufacturer. It aimed to document a true story of the Beetle’s first owners and their global travels, and create a more humanized brand.

The doc first aired on the Discovery Channel and Bravo in January, with the interactive film and website launching a month later. The online component allows viewers to dig deeper into the story by browsing through 58 years worth of photos, journal entries, artefacts and locations a 1955 Beetle has visited over the decades.

metroMetro tackles fiction with Douglas Coupland

For 20 days in the fall of 2013, newspaper Metro pressed pause on exclusively reporting on hard and soft news, and tried its hand at fictional satire. And who better to partner with to bring it to life than Canadian novelist and interactive artist Douglas Coupland?

The author and the news pub (with its editorial, creative, marketing and interactive teams) collaborated on a comprehensive section of the print paper that included a serialized fiction feature (written by Coupland) about a secretary in a temp job, as well as mock ads from companies described in the “Temp” installment with codes readers could collect for a contest to win the “Ultimate Temp Survival Kit.” Also included were “random facts of the day” related to the story’s protagonist and even a Tumblr page with posts from the fictional character.

The elaborate, fictional world drove traffic and exposure for both parties, and generated 73 million impressions, 19,000 contest entries, as well as 87,000 website page views.

The hardware

Volkswagen “Once More: The Story of VIN 903847” Red Urban Best Brand Integration: Bronze // Bell Media (CTV) The Amazing Race Canada “Gamisodes” Secret Location Best Digital Engagement: Silver // Family Channel “The Next Step Interactive” Secret Location Best Transmedia: Silver // Shaw Media (History) “Perfect Storms Interactive” Secret Location Best Transmedia: Bronze // Teletoon “Grojband: The Show Must Go On!” Secret Location Best Broadcast Engagement: Silver// Metro “Temp by Douglas Coupland” Best Print Engagement: Silver/ AToMiC Idea: Bronze