From Selling Books, To Selling Cars:
Two creative agencies who got interactivity right
Global creative agency “Ralph” are no strangers to doing things differently.
In 2012, they completely re-invented the history of the hit game “Borderlands” to promote the release of it’s sequel. More recently, they’ve been making waves on Instagram with a far simpler, cheaper, and (in our eyes) more interesting take on interactivity.
In February this year, Ralph created a “choose your own adventure” style game using Instagram to promote the book launch of Tom Hoyle’s “Thirteen”. In the story, you play the part of a boy being chased by a mysterious group. Each image is tagged with 2 “users”, whose names represent the different choices, such as “you_keep_still” or “you_fight_back”.
The interactive narrative gives very little away regarding the book, and only has a few possibilities for the narrative to branch off in different directions. But with it’s simple, teasing structure, it becomes so much more than just an advert. Hailed by some users as “THE BEST THING ON INSTAGRAM EVER” and an “absolutely inspired piece of work” — Ralph sure gathered a lot of attention for something incredibly simple, and cheap.
Interactivity draws the reader into the narrative, and gives them a real sense of tension in this thriller. The beauty of using Instagram as a platform as well is that it gave Ralph the ability to upload both video and imagery, making for a visually striking and far more immersive experience.
Of course, “choose your own adventure” narratives are not a new concept in digital media, but they do seem to be building traction in the advertising space as brands compete to tell their own stories in a way that makes them stand out. This is something that another global agency, Brooklyn Brothers, seems to thoroughly recognise and act upon.
For their 2011 campaign for Range Rover, “Being Henry”, BB eloquently demonstrated how brands can connect with consumers through interactive storytelling. In this ad, the viewer was placed in control of the life of Henry, a fairly unextrodinary man.
This interactive story is unique in the sense that it even gives the user the ability to decide what kind of narrative they want to pursue — action, romance, fantasy, or comedy. What this results in is an assortment of 9 different story lines, and a huge 32 possible endings. But the story didn’t just end there. Using the information gathered from the users choices, the ad then offered up a tailored Range Rover to the user.
Interactivity in both cases is used to demonstrate a certain “product feature”. For Thirteen — it’s the adrenaline associated with a thriller novel. For Range Rover, it’s to illustrate the immense customisability of the Evoque. In cases like these, the line between entertainment and advertising becomes indistinct, and viewers are frequently drawn in before they even realise it’s an advert.