Tuesday, February 24, 2009

For Your Imagination Watchmen Movie Campaign is Unique and Groundbreaking for Web Video

This is part two of my interview with Paul Kontonis, CEO and Co-Founder of For Your Imagination, about their sponsorship by Warner Brothers Theatrical for the upcoming "Watchmen" movie and their promotional campaign that is both unique and groundbreaking for the digital media studio. In part one of the interview, Paul discussed how the sponsorship program funded a package of original comedy and entertainment shows that crosses over through four of their Axis of Comedy network web series, Kyle Piccolo Comic Shop Therapist, The Retributioners, Abigail's X-Rated Teen Diary and HungrymanTV's Phistophicles. The campaign launched last week with a brand new "Watchmen"-themed episode of Kyle Piccolo and continues tomorrow with a scheduled for release of new episodes from all the other web series.

Larry Kless: How did this Watchmen sponsorship deal come together?

Paul Kontonis: We have had the opportunity to work on a few projects promoting Warner Bros movies. We did “Dark Knight” which kicked off Kyle Piccolo and before that were involved in the “Get Smart” UGC video contest. So that's how we started kicking off this whole video thing.

“Dark Knight” was kind of a test run basically utilizing our video ad inventory, trailers and title cards, and this campaign is the next step, which is the development and production of original content that has Watchmen-themed elements within it.

Then we took it to the next level by making them clickable with the Easter eggs embedded in them and right now we're seeing click through rates of almost 70% when people are watching the interactive versions and that is absolutely fantastic. With regards to the agency, we have worked with them on a few projects as well.

LK: Have you used the Innovid player before on any other projects?

PK: No. This is our first application of the Innovid player, our first opportunity to work with the team and we are amazingly impressed. They were added-on after the plans had actually been signed and once we started talking to them, they had even less time to come on board for the project. What really impressed me and what wanted me to get started is the abilities of the player to work like an ad server in that it adjusts to the viewer.

If you watched the video once and you go to watch it again, it sees your IP address again and it will serve you different interactive elements within the video. In a couple of cases there's grafitti on the wall and when you watch it once, it might be one thing and when you watch it a second time, it will be something else. So instead of rendering a completely new video, on the fly we’re adding in this layer of interactivity that makes it even more interesting in a subtle way.

We chose for a very subtle implementation of it versus something very obvious saying "click me." Even though it's subtle, it's something that this community, the core fans, dig. It's fun -- find little elements in it and be happy about them or angry about them. That's part of this comic book culture; you like it or you don't or you rant about it, but either way, you comment on it. We definitely had a lot of response from it -- mostly positive, which is outstanding.

LK: It really lends itself to the same model as using Easter eggs in the DVD experience. Having an interactive, more personal experience with the content.

PK: And if you don't know they're there, no big deal. It's a regular video viewing experience. If you know they're there and you start looking for them, I think there's 7 or 8 placements in the video -- a couple of them are really hard to find.

It's not that they're small… it's that they blend in so well and if you're not paying attention, they're hard to find. It gives an experience for the people who are really excited about them; an experience for the person that really doesn't know that they’re there, and the Watchmen references.

What we're started to see now is that there's all these contests springing up on the web on sites like “Starpulse,” “MovieFlick,” “Movieweb” and these are sites that have millions of unique visitors a month. They’re doing home page promotions where if you find all the references in the videos, you can win all this free merchandise. And we can’t wait to see how people are going to be filling those competitions out because they're hard. There are 15 references in this video alone and some of them are tough.

LK: In terms of branded entertainment and product placement for the promotional campaign, does it have a finite life until once the movie opens? How long will the promotion go?

PK: The videos will stay up forever --we're not going to pull them down. The interactive elements, the pre-rolls, overlays will disappear after March 8th. The title cards will probably stay in the videos so we will always know that this was sponsored by the Watchmen campaign. The thematic content and integrated storylines will stay there for the life of the videos.

If you clicked on any of the Easter eggs you'll see it takes you to the “TheNewFrontiersman.” That site is 100% Watchmen-related. It's an offshoot of the movie. That content and what we wanted to do was not necessarily extend the movie like that, but introduce people to the movie in another kind of entertaining way.

I think it's pretty unique that they were willing to do this and take it seriously.This medium is definitely starting to look like a real viable option.

Watchmen opens in theaters on March 6, 2009.
Stay tuned for details on a special Watchmen movie promotion for readers of this blog.