Transmedia Storytelling – An Exploration

Ever since we discussed the concept of Transmedia Storytelling in class I have become very interested in it and the ways it has been executed throughout the world in many different, successful, advertising based campaigns. According to Wikipedia Transmedia Storytelling is “the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats including, but not limited to, games, books, events, cinema and television.” (Wikipedia, 2015) (transmedia_diagram-400×400.png, 2014). If used correctly it can take a fictional universe based around characters and give the audience a further background to their lives and the place where they live. This adds several layers to the original plot in which you learn about the lives and back stories of central characters outside of what’s seen in the story being told so that a sense of realism in the story is achieved. Many of these campaigns are run as a way to get the general public interested in a particular story and used to advertise an up and coming release. Many are a complete and utter success while others fail as the whole idea of Transmedia Storytelling is not fully explored and the process is rushed in a bid to try make money.

The first Transmedia campaign that really caught my attention was that of successful 2012 film, “Prometheus”. A joint effort between Ignition, RSA Films, and 20th Century Fox saw this film get worldwide attention after the campaign was launched and people were introduced to the story surrounding “Prometheus” (Prometheus: Transmedia Campaign Case Study, 2012). The use of types of media really saw this blow up all around the globe, the use of mobile phones, mini games, exclusive online backstories and many more drew people into the world of Prometheus. This Transmedia campaign can be seen as one of the most successful digital marketing advances in recent years as one of the most talked about digital campaigns of all-time all while causing “Prometheus” to become of the top box office grosses of 2012. However, I felt they could have incorporated social media more into the campaign as a resource to get everyone together, maybe even the use of a hashtag on Twitter.

Another campaign that had success of a similar degree was the Transmedia campaign of the Batman franchise, “The Dark Knight” (Why So Serious? A Marketing Transmedia Campaign – Case Study, 2012). This particular campaign began at Comic-Con and spread worldwide. Thousands throughout the world took part online with people donning the Joker’s signature look at landmarks all around the globe and rallies took place in 33 cities across the city showing support for the fictitious character, Harvey Dent (dent.jpg, 2008).

dent

Through the use of all different platforms such as mobile phones, online websites, role play activities, messages in cakes from bakeries throughout America, and even a message written in the sky, this campaign is truly one of the best if not the best Transmedia campaign to date. Through its success the world saw Gotham City spill out onto their streets and the use of this campaign saw “The Dark Knight” have the biggest opening day of all time, the top grossing movie of the year and it also sold the most advance pre-sale tickets ever with shows at 3am and 6am selling out to adoring fans. This truly an example one of the most successful and defining moments in the new medium that is Transmedia marketing campaigns.

carrie-i

While the above Transmedia campaigns were a complete success in my eyes and the eyes of many others, not all that set out to create something like this end up with the same result. This can be seen in the case of the 2013 remake of the film “Carrie” based of Stephen King’s book. While the marketing for “Carrie” (carrie-i.jpg, 2013) started out normally with the use of traditional advertising such as print ads, billboards and interviews with the cast creating a buzz around the film’s release.

However, a prank video (Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise, 2013) was then uploaded online that shows a girl using telekinetic powers, such as the ones Carrie has in the film, to cause havoc in a coffee shop in front of unsuspecting customers. While the video was a success in the sense that it was viewed 3 million times, shared 250k times on Facebook, and was mentioned in 11k Tweets in one day (TRANSMEDIA PROJECTS- CAMPAIGNS- Carrie (The Movie) and Sex and the City, 2015), I found that it wasn’t a very good campaign as it didn’t include the general public besides those in the coffee shop and in reality had no real importance to the story portrayed in the film. Also, while a hashtag and a page were set up so that people who were interested in the upcoming movie could interact with each other, it didn’t build upon the whole idea of a Transmedia Storytelling campaign which is to tell or build upon the story at hand. This campaign didn’t have the same effect as the “Prometheus” and “The Dark Knight” and therefore, did not have the same effect at the box office or as much as a following.

These examples undoubtedly show the effect a good Transmedia campaign may have on the success of an advertisement of a film or another storytelling medium.

 

Bibliography;

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