Drop the Beat busts an interactive move

Alliance Atlantis Communications is gettin' jiggy wit' it, interactive-style. When Drop The Beat, a 13-part half-hour hip-hop drama - produced by the Toronto-based company in partnership with Back Alley Film Productions - makes its Feb. 7 debut on CBC, it will...

Alliance Atlantis Communications is gettin’ jiggy wit’ it, interactive-style.

When Drop The Beat, a 13-part half-hour hip-hop drama – produced by the Toronto-based company in partnership with Back Alley Film Productions – makes its Feb. 7 debut on CBC, it will be supported by both Web and interactive TV (iTV) initiatives.

Viewers will be able to experience the program in three different ways, says Todd Goldsbie, vice-president, new media with Alliance Atlantis. They can watch it on television, visit the Web site (www.dropthebeat.com) or participate in a WebTV-enabled interactive experience.

Both the Web site and the iTV components have been developed by Toronto-based ExtendMedia.

Drop The Beat’s central characters are DJs on a campus radio hip-hop show. So the Web site is designed to appear as if it’s the actual site for the radio show. Visitors will be able to listen to portions of the show, download music, purchase the soundtrack for the television series, check out message boards and participate in interactive chats.

‘This particular show, because of its musical content was very appropriate for this,’ says Goldsbie. ‘The way that we were able to use the Web site as a metaphor for the radio show, as opposed to the TV show, provided us with a unique opportunity.’

The other interactive component of the show is WebTV-based. Consumers who subscribe to Microsoft’s WebTV will be able to follow on-screen links during the program, comment on the narrative, register their opinions on the moral issues raised in episodes, and read additional information about the characters and situations – all via their television screens.

The project is funded in part by the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund.

This isn’t Alliance Atlantis’s first such interactive venture. The Web site it developed previously for Life Network’s Dish It Out program (www.dish-it-out.com) also incorporates a number of interactive components. (ExtendMedia, again, was the developer.) The Drop The Beat project, however, is a much more ambitious step down the same road.

‘As we slowly move toward some kind of converged universe, there will be increasing opportunity to integrate the Web and TV,’ Goldsbie says. ‘And as those opportunities further the objectives of our programming, we will go as far down that interactive road as we can. The learning we will experience with this particular project can be applied to the grand bank of our television knowledge.’

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In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.