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.’

Also in this report:

- It’s a harsh realm: In today’s network television environment, the chances of a show’s success are slimmer than ever p.TV2

- Consolidation of specialties a mixed blessing: Upward pressure on price is offset by plethora of choice p.TV16

- Spotlight on…Television Creative p.TV18

- Specialties take branding to the Web: Treat online presence as destination in and of itself p.TV21

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group