Thu, 06 Apr 2017 15:49:15 GMT
As a true ‘90s kid (that counts as a millennial, right? I don’t even know anymore…) I had the privilege of growing up alongside some pretty fantastic video games. Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64, Metal Gear Solid on Playstation and – moving into the 2000s – Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell on Xbox. Yup, I was pretty big on the whole secret agent/super spy genre.
And thanks to a recent immersive experience from Ubisoft, I got to live out this fantasy for realsies, all from the comfort of my desk…
It all started when I received a mysterious package,containing a very old school mobile phone. Naturally, I switched it on. Before I knew it, I was jugular-deep in a conspiracy, caught in the middle of a war between secret agents and narcos. Frantic voice mail messages, cryptic texts, a phone call in which I listened as my fictitious wife was taken hostage – I was no longer Liam Smith, I was a desk-bound Liam Neeson (‘Taken’ Liam Neeson, not ‘Love Actually’ Liam Neeson). Over the course of 48 hours, I was drawn further into a web of duplicity, threats and some very bad hombres. If I sounded a little bit fraught last week when talking to anyone who did actually call me for real, I can only apologise – taking down a drug cartel is a stressful business.
The stress and adrenaline may have been real, but thankfully the controversy wasn’t. It turns out it was part of an elaborate, immersive launch project for the new Ubisoft game, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. Once I had recovered from all the excitement, I chatted with Alexis Benbehe, Patrice Dumas and Pierre Mathonat from DDB to get the undercover scoop on this unique project.
Liam> What was the brief like from Ubisoft?
DDB> What’s so fascinating and interesting when you work for a brand like Ubisoft is that they are such masters of entertainment and storytelling. Promoting a video game is like promoting a movie. You must sell a story with its own universe, but you can’t spoil it. That’s why we decided to talk about events that happened before the game.
Cartel/Com is the third and final chapter of this cross-media campaign. Previously we launched “A World With No Heroes”, a website that shows what the entire Ghost Recon Wildlands environment looks like, before players get there. For the second chapter, we produced a viral film and a TV commercial, both directed by John McTiernan, to relate the coming of the Ghosts (the heroes) in Bolivia. For our last chapter, we wanted an intuitive PR activation that immerses the user in this world, after the Ghosts have begun their mission. All of these assets are part of one big story. Like chapters in a novel - they are all connected to one another, with recurring characters, events or details. The films make references to the ‘A World with No Heroes’ website. The website refers to Cartel/Com. It’s all part of the story.
Liam> This was a pretty damn unique experience - a first of its kind. How did you come up with the idea?
DDB> Thanks to movies and TV shows we know that cartels have their own communication networks and satellites. That was the starting point. To create one of these networks and use burner phones to do more than tell a story. We wanted influencers to dive into an interactive playwright. The idea of having a cell phone to contact characters from a video game, to break the fourth wall, was a way to make this world even more real, and sounded too cool not to do.
Liam> What kind of prep was required before you sent off the packages?
DDB> We wrote an original 48-hour story in which influencers and journalists could interact with our six characters in real time. Each character had a backstory and their own way of speaking. The real challenge was during the operation –answering as quickly as possible to really make people believe in the story and continue playing. There were three of us sending live answers to the participants. We didn’t want chatbots. Each answer had to fit the story and play on the personality of each user. It was a psychological game.
Liam> What kind of technology was involved in this project?
DDB> We used the most advanced technology ever involved in an ad: pre-paid sim cards, out-dated cell phones, and TEXT.
Liam> What kind of responses did you get from the 'agents' who received the phones?
DDB> There were all kinds of answers, but, above all,everyone wanted to play. It was really fun seeing everyone so immersed in the plot. It was like being young again, when you’d play cops and robbers. We’re all kids and we all want to play.
Here are some of the answers we got:
Liam> What kind of research was involved in this project? Did you dig up anything interesting / shocking?
DDB> You know how you hear stories about nice guys and bad guys?
Narcos… they’re not the nice ones. Seriously, we worked more than a year on Ghost Recon Wildlands. We had to watch tons of documentaries,films and read books about the subject. It's all about the details.
Liam> What were the trickiest components during the creation of this experience and how did you overcome them?
DDB> As advertisers, you don’t always get the opportunity to write complex stories with blockbuster action movie like dialogue.
Everyone wants to write stuff like “listen to me you little piece of shit” or “you don’t know it yet but you are a dead man walking.”Nevertheless, there was substantial amount of work behind this idea. But the fun was priceless. The trickiest part was to stop writing.
Liam> Were there any memorable moments or responses during the 'mission'?
DDB> You mean, like this?
Categories: Sports and Leisure, GamingDDB Paris, Thu, 06 Apr 2017 15:49:15 GMT