Last week Xbox made a stir with branded entertainment project ‘Survival of the Grittiest’, a 24-hour endurance challenge promoting ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’.
Craft London, in a collaboration with m:united/McCann London, strapped eight Lara Croft fans to a billboard in Southwark, pitting them against extreme weather conditions controlled by the voting public. After a gruelling 20.75 hours, one contestant was crowned victorious. Producer, Lois Newcombe, and Head of Integrated Production, Sergio Lopez reveal the behind-the-scenes work that got the whole project, from conception to completion, created in just four weeks.
“The brief from Xbox contained a number of different outputs in terms of how they wanted to run the ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ campaign.” Comments Sergio – “The game, of course, is iconic but as a prequel to the existing games Xbox wanted us to create something that would speak to the original brand but approach Lara’s story in a new way. We wanted to play on the resilience and power of Lara Croft and see if people were up to the task beyond the game. Because of the way we run our team here, we were able to put forward the idea of ‘the survival billboard’ as part of the creative.”
Craft have a team of multi-disciplined producers, production partners and freelancers which mean that all of the production elements of a campaign, whether digital, print, events, TVC, or online, can all be handled by one team. Producer Lois Newcombe worked across multiple elements of the campaign including the billboard, online and print
Lois comments: “Our set up means that we are able to look at the campaign as a whole, bring a very complex creative vision to life and work out the most effective way to use the budget. We had four weeks to put together the campaign and it wouldn’t have been possible without the structure that we have here.”
Throughout the process the billboard was streamed live on a custom-built website. With eight contestants, live voting on four extreme weather conditions (wind, rain, snow and heat). There were a number of variables which had to be planned in meticulous detail.
Sergio comments: “On the day everything went as smooth as we could have wished for. We’ve still got scars from when live streaming was first introduced as a branded content technique back in the day, so with our joint past experience we were able to put together an exhaustive scenario plan. The real challenge was that we had no idea how long the experience would last. The contestants could have all jumped within two hours or lasted a number of days. Within an unknown space of time we also had to keep an audience engaged and have the capacity to react effectively to public interaction with the project.
“On the day it was interesting to use the data we were receiving from the different on-line channels to decide which was the best use of different camera angles, characters and weather effects to grip the audience. We were ready to employ whichever was most effective to craft our narrative and bring the creative ambition to life. For example the public felt that we had too many breaks with game previews so we adapted our “run of show” within the hour.”
To effectively plan for all of the outcomes in the experience a section of the billboard was erected approximately a week in advance.
Lois adds: “It was important that we tested the billboard beforehand. The team wanted the project to have a filmic quality so we needed full control over the lighting and weather elements. We found that the snow created challenges. If it was too cold it froze and obscured the print branding. We had to ensure that the product we used melted quickly. Not only that, we wanted the weather to be a challenge but not an impossibility for the contestants, so we also worked closely with medics to determine the degree to which we could employ the effects.”
Custom offices were positioned behind the billboard, housing a 40 strong crew. This not only included the Craft and M:United team but a film crew, weather effects operatives, online and social team, medics and a health and safety team. During the experience contestants were monitored constantly to ensure their safety.
“The team worked extremely hard to ensure everything went off without a hitch and we were lucky that despite the time of the year, London weather was unusually mild. That way we were able to create the four seasons of the year in one day.” Says SergioCreative Credits:
Ad Agency: M:United/McCANN London
Agency Production: Craft
Head of Integrated Production: Sergio Lopez
Executive Creative Director: Robert Doubal & Laurence Thompson
Creative Directors (Art Director / Copywriter): Jamie Mietz and Sanjiv Mistry
Creatives (Art Director / Copywriter): Jacob Bjordal and Jim Nilsson
Agency Producer: Lois Newcombe
Production: Craft / Momentum / MRM
Consumer PR: Edelman