A Comics Project in a Marketing Internship
In a marketing internship at McDonald’s China Company Ltd., our team worked on a 6-month comics project called 霸篮少年 (meaning: basketball boys). The working process needed the cooperation of team members and the creative agencies who elaborated our ideas and implemented them. My major role was to align with two creative agencies and offer design strategies regarding comics layout, storyboards, and scripts. My second role was to analyze the project’s media reach.
An Overview of The Comics Project
The anime culture is popular in China now, and young people who were born after 1990 are more likely to be attached to virtual characters in comics. Anime is an approach that consumer-goods companies would like to use to reach young demographic as their target consumers. Therefore, in the comics project, our team endowed the Big Mac with a domineering personality as an anthropomorphic character. The comics depicted the growth of basketball players. The website of the project is http://all.vic.sina.com.cn/bigmac/, and below is an overview of the comics. I was responsible for episodes (EP) 12, 13, 14, and 15.
To prepare for the next comics issue in advance, I gleaned previous feedback from readers’ comments on social media. Based on readers’ suggestions, our team brainstormed topics for the next issue of comics. Since the comics topic should be congruent with spotlight stories of the national basketball match taking place every week, our team made multiple plans and drafted storyboards in advance. When news of the match was released, I checked if any plan matched what had happened in real life and revised the storyboard appropriately.
The left figure is an example of storyboards. Team members drafted storyboards and comic scripts, and the team would hand the best storyboard to the creative agencies for the next step, drawing.
App Visual Advice
The comics were promoted on mainstream news apps. Below is my proposal for the Sina news app to improve the visual effect of the advertisement. I suggested (1) enlarging the size of the McDonald’s Logo, and (2) moving up the title position.
Layout Design Strategies
At the mid-point of the project, our team decided to improve the comics’ quality in terms of content and layout. I have made contributions to change the current layout as a conventional one to the infinite canvas layout. I conducted user research in interviewing people’s reading preference and compared popular comics on the Internet. Specifically, the majority of our readers tended to read comics on mobile phones instead of the Internet. Then I proposed design strategies to adjust the layout for mobile phone readers.
I learned from the theory of the infinite canvas which challenged the traditional layout that the strict panels of comics were only fit for every page of comic books. Instead, the panels should be scrollable canvas which can be expanded or shrunk, free of size restriction. If the layout fits the screen, the readers will find it easier to follow the story’s flow and create their own user experience. The flow of the layout is easier for their eyes to track. Below is a table of characteristics of two kinds of layout.
Here is a comparison of EP 14 with the conventional layout and EP 15 with the infinite canvas layout.
In the screenshots of EP 14 shown below, the conventional layout constrained the size of the panel by wrapping the content with white bold frames. The width of each panel was fixed at half of the screen.
In the screenshots of EP 15 shown below, the infinite canvas layout replaced the white frames used in the conventional layout. It created an immersive and smooth experience for readers when they scrolled down to uncover the story. The size of each panel was not restricted, and the drawer inserted mini panels into large panels to make a contrast. This new layout brought a more vivid reading experience to people.