LEGO Digital AoR | 2013

LEGO Digital AoR | 2013

Winning the LEGO account was one of my proudest moments at Isobar. It was a huge test of everything we had been working for as a department: talent, morale, and methodology.

Our assignment was to create OLA for the new LEGO cartoon, The Yoda Chronicles, airing on Cartoon Network. New episodes would only be aired every three months, and there was no corresponding line of toys, but any time Star Wars is in the national spotlight LEGO can bask in the reflected glory (BIRG-ing) to the tune of a healthy bump in LEGO STAR WARS toy sales.

Our solution was to employ a multi-channel strategy against three groups of LEGO fans:

1) The fantasy storyteller in a 6 year old.

2) The narrative storyteller of a 12 year old.

3) The nostalgic inner child of a parent.

Groups 1 and 2 play together with group 3, when it comes to LEGO, and so it was important that our tactics activated those groups in relation to one another. You build demand with the kid, you build reception with the wallet-holder (i.e. the parent who grew up with LEGO and/or Star Wars), you sell bricks. That was our thesis going in, and it proved to be resonant with the LEGO brand stewards to whom we presented.

The promise we wanted to extend was this: Through LEGO, you can CONTINUE THE STORY yourself.

The new Yoda Chronicles would jump start ideas, as all good content does, but LEGO is the medium through which you can make those stories your own.

The work below reflects that strategy and shows touchpoints across multiple devices and properties, catered to reflect the boundaries of the RFP as well as our ambition to broaden the client’s view of what is possible (and desirable) within the digital space.

The end result was our defeat of the incumbent (the ultra-hip RED) and the favored challenger (RGA). And not only did we win the AoR account, we so impressed the room(s) that we were asked to begin brainstorming on product design and campaign strategy for LEGO’s first real foray into bridging the gap between their physical brick sales and the world of play for most kids today (read: digital).

Our core execution was for rich media and standard banners which invoked an incoming call on an iPhone, an interface that kids of all ages are familiar with and often eager to play with themselves. The properties on which kids spend time are very crowded, and we wanted to be sure that our initial frames grabbed their attention.

The concept relied on a carousel of incoming calls, any one of which a viewer might decide to accept. When they did so, a HoloTalk (FaceTime) video would play, starring one of four characters from The Yoda Chronicles, C3PO, Yoda, Greivous, or the new and mysterious Jek, a character about whom very little is known at the outset of the series. We showed fully produced units for standard 300×250 slots, as well as takeovers and expandable banners (more materials available upon request); below are some selects from the larger body of work. The video content is partially ripped from footage of The Yoda Chronicles and partially shot by Isobar, and character voices are recorded by Isobar, with sound effects taken from the show.

A storyboard for the C3PO 300×250 banner.

Yoda's expandable banner, as a storyboard.

Yoda’s expandable banner, as a storyboard.

Above is a video showing the incoming calls carousel with C3PO’s call being resolved at the end, and below is a video of our Yoda execution.

Below is an example of our takeover executions, complete with an interactive component allowing kids to play with the core characters a little before checking out the webisodes and trailers on Cartoon Network or LEGO.com.

I can’t get the audio to work on that clip for some reason, but it should suffice to say that it was probably the best audio you’ve ever heard. Let’s just go with that for now.

In addition to that execution, we created interactive takeovers for all the other characters, with each having their own unique mini-game at the end. For C3PO, you threw turkey legs to the Rancor, for Yoda, you defended yourself with a lightsaber against flying bricks, and for Greivous you pummeled him with teddy bears (it should be noted that The Yoda Chronicles deals with a Jedi academy of children with Force sensitivity, so the themes are childlike and jokey in keeping with the spirit of the TV content).

Here’s a video of Ryan Duda & Co. pitching the “blow through” takeover execution to me.

We also showed LEGO how we would use a variety of other properties to help support The Yoda Chronicles’ content. Facebook, LEGO.com, and YouTube were all leveraged, as was digital OOH, powered by some of the incredible technology found in the MIT Media Lab.

Our strategy for Facebook was to make parents aware of the show by sending sponsored content to the Timelines of those moms and dads (primarily dads) who grew up loving Star Wars. We know that parents who choose LEGO for their kids are also more likely to watch shows and actively play games with their kids, and we wanted to be sure to appeal to that behavior, so our Facebook content drove to a downloadable iPad app which we believe will make the show appointment TV via augmented reality/second-screen interactions to be enjoyed during the premier broadcast of new episodes. Recall that new episodes are only released every three months, so the app would also serve as a reminder when new episodes are getting ready to air.

An iPad with the app installed showing what a reminder would look like on the night of the premiere.

An iPad with the app installed showing what a reminder would look like on the night of the premiere.

Users would need to be logged in using their LEGO ID (COPPA prohibits us from using a Facebook login), but LEGO ID accounts may be linked with Facebook. Authenticated users give us great behavioral data and opportunities to inspire sharing.

Users would need to be logged in using their LEGO ID (COPPA prohibits us from using a Facebook login), but LEGO ID accounts may be linked with Facebook. Authenticated users give us great behavioral data and opportunities to inspire sharing.

An example of the kind of Second-Screen interactions might be included in the Holocron app. Here, we see a game in which you hold the iPad in front of the screen and swipe different character's faces to collect them in your Holocron, unlocking information and trivia as the show proceeds. Much of the information and trivia are new to the Star Wars mythology and are revealed during the episode being aired.

An example of the kind of Second-Screen interactions might be included in the Holocron app. Here, we see a game in which you hold the iPad in front of the screen and swipe different character’s faces to collect them in your Holocron, unlocking information and trivia as the show proceeds. Much of the information and trivia are new to the Star Wars mythology and are revealed during the episode being aired.

An Augmented Reality/Reflection OOH installation powered by MIT Media Labs technology. Here, the magic mirror would map your body's movements to a Star Wars character matching your height.

Our research tells us that parents and children spend time together outside; the younger the child, the more likely that is to be true. So OOH was clearly a key touchpoint for our CONTINUE THE STORY campaign. Our solution was an Augmented Reality/Reflection OOH installation powered by MIT Media Labs technology. Here, the “magic mirror” would map your body’s movements to a Star Wars character matching your height inside the digital display.

In keeping with our insight about the allure of iPhones to kids in our target age range, our research also showed that kids play with one app more than all other apps on their parents phone: the weather app. So we designed and rapidly prototyped a iPhone app (which we installed and demonstrated in the meeting) which showed the weather for several planets in the Star Wars universe and helped to promote the new show at the same time.

A slide from our presentation portraying the ForceCast app. An actual app was built (in two days, no less) and demonstrated during the presentation on an iPhone and iPad.

A slide from our presentation portraying the ForceCast app. An actual app was built (in two days, no less) and demonstrated during the presentation on an iPhone and iPad.

Of course, all the advertising in the world is useless if it doesn’t make someone money (someone other than the advertising agency, more specifically). We did not want the call to action of any OLA to drive directly to Cartoon Network just to watch some more trailers, so instead we recommended that LEGO alter the LEGO STAR WARS product area of their website. The Yoda Chronicles is all about getting deeper into the background of Yoda, as well as a select few other canon characters, and we believed that character-driven narrative needed to be pulled through the entire experience. Our idea, therefore, was to reindex the LEGO STAR WARS product universe by character, an option not available on their existing website.

The show’s content is interwoven into the product line indexing, as well. Scenes from episodes of the show become content for a BUILD THIS SCENE feature, showing a viewer all the brick sets one would need in order to reconstruct the action on the screen (remember that no new sets of bricks were being issues specifically for this IP, but many of the ships and settings are identical to canon models, already represented elsewhere in their product catalog).

Below are screenshots depicting the Yoda landing page, followed by a screenshot of the same page as one would see it indexed for C3PO. Depending on the banner clicked, different characters could be passed to the site as a variable which would color the landing experience appropriately. From there, users could surf through several other characters featured on the show but also appearing elsewhere in the LEGO STAR WARS product line.

We recommended mobile engagement by way of iPad and iPhone, so the experience needed to work everywhere.

We recommended mobile engagement by way of iPad and iPhone, so the experience needed to work everywhere.

The Yoda landing page on our re-imagined LEGO.com LEGO STAR WARS experience would be the  destination for all clicks generated by OLA featuring Yoda.

The Yoda landing page on our re-imagined LEGO.com LEGO STAR WARS experience would be the destination for all clicks generated by OLA featuring Yoda.

The same page as above, but with C3PO selected. Users could navigate to this page from the above Yoda page, or could arrive here by clicking on any OLA featuring C3PO.

The same page as above, but with C3PO selected. Users could navigate to this page from the above Yoda page, or could arrive here by clicking on any OLA featuring C3PO.

Lastly, we wanted to show LEGO that an effective digital strategy does not just include targeted awareness plays, but re-targeting over time. That is especially important when promoting something like The Yoda Chronicles, for which new content will be released only every few months.

The following execution shows how we can leverage the mystery of JEK’s alignment—light side, or dark side—which will be introduced in the first episode, and resolved over the next twelve months as new episodes and webisodes are released.

Our illustration of that concept is the lightweight banner below. JEK is featured, with a slider underneath, LIGHT and DARK on the poles. The users slides the nub back and forth, and punchlines are revealed.

[Frame 1] The "base frame" of the JEK "Slider" OLA concept.

[Frame 1] The “base frame” of the JEK “Slider” OLA concept.

[Frame 2] The LIGHT view of the JEK "Slider" OLA.

[Frame 2] The LIGHT view of the JEK “Slider” OLA.

[Frame 3] The DARK side of the slider. Mmmmm. Unicorn meat.

[Frame 3] The DARK side of the slider. Mmmmm. Unicorn meat.

[Frame 2] The LIGHT slider reveal for the second execution of the JEK "Slider" OLA concepts.

[Frame 2] The LIGHT slider reveal for the second execution of the JEK “Slider” OLA concepts.

[Frame 3] The DARK slider reveal for the second execution of the JEK "Slider" OLA concepts.

[Frame 3] The DARK slider reveal for the second execution of the JEK “Slider” OLA concepts.

As part of the re-targeting effort conversation, we wanted to illustrate that content, over time, is a hugely important part of keeping an audience engaged over such a long interval between new “official” content airing on Cartoon Network. To bring that point to life, we conceived of Behind the Scenes video content which could be created very cheaply and distributed through the existing LEGO social channels (which are very well trafficked by a rabid fan base).

Below is a proof-of-concept video we made using scenes from the show, and our own CGI and stop-motion animation.

A mock up of how the Yoda video would be distributed in the wild on YouTube (in contrast with solely releasing it through their branded channel, though that would also happen).

A mock up of how the Yoda video would be distributed in the wild on YouTube (in contrast with solely releasing it through their branded channel, though that would also happen).

  • Credits: ECD: Max Fresen; CD: Max Fresen; ACD: Ly Weintraub; Copy: Jack McNamara, Ly Weintraub; Art: Ryan Duda, Darren Bourque, Sarah Merlin, Rachel Tanner