How will transmedia affect consumers in their daily lives?
Entertainment is going to be much more involved, and the rewards for getting involved in a franchise will be greater. Fans will use their collective intelligence to solve mysteries and contribute to the series. Eventually, popular entertainment will become guided user-generated content. That’s really the “holy grail”: to enable the most involved fans to participate and contribute to the canon. The older population may not get it at first, but entertainment standards are changing. Even CSI is going transmedia next year!
Aren’t franchises worried about information overload?
Transmedia provides extra insights for those interested in exploring fictional worlds, but casual viewers won’t have any problems following the plot. This is all about invitation, and consumers will have to decide whether they want to wade in or take the plunge. The real challenge is developing an interface that allows you to best appreciate the experience, whether it’s a movie, website, or characters’ blogs. Blu-Ray is the gateway to those delivery mechanisms, but it’s transitional. Sony and Xbox are already trying to deliver a Blu-Ray style experience digitally.
What about the people who want the classics left alone?
You’ve always got to be mindful of the fact that there are 30-year old dudes who love their Transformers. The most successful franchises are those which delve into the essence of the brand and recast it in a contemporary light. Star Wars’ Clone Wars, despite all the criticism you hear, is making a lot of money. The kids watching it today aren’t familiar with the prequels. They don’t even know that Anakin is Darth Vader.
What have you been working on lately?
Well, Coca-Cola’s ad agency, Wieden-Kennedy, recently developed a commercial called “The Happiness Factory,” in which the inside of a vending machine was actually another world. It was hugely popular and had the highest recognition levels ever. But ad agencies aren’t equipped to create sequels. So we wrote a Franchise Mythology detailing the characters, story, and chronology of the Happiness Factory itself. Then we developed content to expand the world and encourage audience involvement. The new content stands on its own: you don’t need to flash a picture of a Coke bottle every couple of seconds. The audience gets it.