How did they do it? Meet the creative technologists behind the Mercedes-Benz 'Escape the Map' campaign.
In November 2011, Mercedenz-Benz launched its interactive 'Escape the Map' campaign by AMV BBDO, featuring 'Marie' - a woman trapped in a Street View Google Map. Viewers were invited to follow clues online and find an escape before Marie's face was forever blurred like the others there - and for the chance to win a C-Class Coupé. The interactive video, directed by Cannes Grand Prix winner Carl Erik Rinsch was produced by digital creatives unit9.
The London-based hybrid company specialises in producing ads that communicate and interact with audiences. They have previously worked on projects with AMV BBDO and collaborated with Google based technologies.
Interestingly, a project like this starts out with a pencil. The production team storyboarded the whole thing from an interactive aspect and used hand drawings to create a mock-up of every shot and scene in Flash before creating visual representations of all the different outcomes depending on interaction. To create the dystopian world and enable the camera to move within it they used a process called photogrammetry in which 3D shapes are mapped from 2D images.
Interactive Director Rob Corradi says: "We worked closely with AMV to identify key moments within the film that we could add a layer of interactivity to. By storyboarding these up and creating working prototypes or 'animatics' of the scenes in question, we were able to guide the delivery of live-action and CGI assets being lead by the other partners on the project (RSA and Digital Domain) before integrating everything together to create the resulting interactive film."
The production team also worked on the design, look and feel of the interface which was set in carefully rendered, high definition cityscapes with scenes beginning in Hong Kong and ending in London. An entire virtual replica was constructed from 2D photos of Hong Kong. Live action was then shot against a green screen which would then be incorporated into this virtual world. Except for the actors and the interior of the car, everything else was computer generated. All the 3D scenes were shot in Los Angeles.
Escape the Map is not the first 'advergame' of its kind. Doritos teamed up with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Fransisco and hybrid production company B-Reel, New York in 2008 to create their Halloween themed 'Hotel 626' campaign.
The company's creative Partner Piero Frescobaldi says: "The film was interesting because of the idea. We were careful not to overdo it as we didn't want something gimmicky. We were aware that interactive work has been successful and done for many years, but we still think the big masses of people are not interactive.
"It is about being able to take live action and gaming and bringing them together in a way that people engage. We have the technology that enables us to do this and as advertisers we're trying to find a way to use this in an entertaining way. Adverts are a good benchmark because of the tight turnaround and are a great testing ground for what I think will eventually become widestream.
"Agencies see us as creative technologists. The interactive element is the click and this is very powerful because it brings you closer into the story and makes it a more personal choice. Whenever you look at the reach of interactive advertisement and who actively engaged in it you might ask: are one million pairs of eyes better than say, 100,000 interactions?"
unit9 wanted to create something very contemporary. Symbolically, the modern world is represented by Google and the ability to move on maps, so if you were going to get lost in a digital world it would probably be in this setting.