Nothing is quite what it seems at Disneyland, California

Why Disney decided to live stream Johnny Depp on a billboard

SPOTTED: The insight behind the ads

Everybody’s familiar with the story of Alice in Wonderland — which sees a young girl fall down a rabbit hole into a world full of magic and mad hatters. Disney’s big screen sequel Through The Looking Glass further explores the world where nothing is quite as it seems — and the film’s promotion was executed with the same attitude.

Disney delighted Disneyland goers with an interactive billboard featuring Johnny Depp — who plays The Mad Hatter — being live streamed, enabling him to interact with fans directly. What was originally a standard billboard with moving images quickly morphed into something far more magical. Depp was being filmed in a remote location and could interact with fans in real-time through hidden cameras.

Live streaming app Periscope has seen huge success among younger generations due to its mass of live streamed content, whether people are watching a gas explosion in Manhattan and a particularly large puddle in Newcastle. The ephemeral nature of live entertainment demands people to stop and pay attention, and Kayvon Beykpour — founder of Periscope — believes the app’s growing popularity is down to the fact that the content is “unedited, it’s unfettered, and you know it’s happening right now.”

Disney’s campaign has applied these factors to its Through the Looking Glass billboard. While, on the one hand, it adds a whole other dimension to the way fans interact with celebrity — a dialogue that’s expected to be increasingly personal in a world with social media — it also plays on serendipity, which digitisation has left us in short supply of. In short, fans were left smiling like a bunch of Cheshire Cats.

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Written by Hannah Callaghan, account executive at Canvas8

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