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In our Makers At Heart series, we introduce the people behind the projects to hear more about their inspirations, motivations and creative insights. We spoke to Mill Directors Alfie Johnson and Jessica Bishopp about how they brought Pringles character, Frank to life on Twitch and what it was like working in the live domain.
What was the brief for this project?
In a series of previous adverts, Grey and Pringles had brought to life a character called Frank from the game ‘West of Dead’. Now they wanted to do it live on Twitch.
The aim was to get Frank to invade a popular Twitch influencers stream by breaking out of her screen and into her room, all live and all without the audience being any the wiser. They would then hang out, play games and eat Pringles for the remainder of the stream.
How did you go about bringing this to life?
Authenticity was imperative in the execution here. People on the internet can be brutal at the worst of times and beautiful at the best. We needed to trick them without them feeling tricked and entertain them without losing their engagement, all while highlighting the hero of the story. Pringles.
We did a deep dive into the world of Leah (our Twitch influencer) to figure out the best way of executing the breakout and subsequent interactions. We needed to know how she ran her streams, what her viewers were like, the demographic, why they watched and how they engaged with her live on stream. We then took this information and created bespoke scenarios with the amazing team at Grey that we could workshop and adjust with Leah. This included making custom emoji’s that the chat could use and bespoke rewards that they could claim to further heighten their interaction with the activation.
How did you seamlessly combine live video and pre-recorded elements?
This was essentially a two-hour live, interactive, technically nuanced piece of theatre. We needed to replicate Leah’s streaming room perfectly in a studio. It all had to be flawless so that no-one would catch on to our secret.
We had to treat this like a live TV broadcast or theatre show. We prerecorded a scene in which Frank would climb out of a dummy screen and into Leah’s room and then by using clever transitions and hidden cuts we worked with Leah to integrate this seamlessly into the live feed. We had a bespoke animation that the guys at Raw Fury created which played like a ‘cut-scene’ in the game, allowing us to blend the virtual and real into one smooth breakout scene.
What were the challenges on this project?
The biggest challenge was the lack of control you have when executing a project like this. The magic was in pre-production and then the trust came for the actual event. This was a huge risk from the get-go and Grey deserves all the credit for taking that risk and pushing forward this project.
In a normal commercial, you have complete control over every shot and can shoot as many takes as time permits. With this, you have one shot and the control lies in the actor and influencers hands. Of course, we had our means of communicating with them and offering direction live during the stream, but at the end of the day the most important part of this job was preparation, testing and rehearsal. This is also where our deep dive into Leah’s world came in, as we were able to work together with her to develop and tailor scenarios that could play out during the stream, rather than having an over-prescriptive script as we had to allow for flexibility.
How do you see streaming platforms like Twitch changing the way in which creatives craft branded content?
Streaming platforms offer a fantastic way to directly interact with your consumer base and have them interact back. They offer brand new opportunities for brands to push the limits of their advertisements and create content that isn’t easily skipped or glanced over. Streamers have a cohort of loyal followers and the platform is only getting bigger and more interactive and engaging. There’s always going to be a risk with live activations but that risk will almost always pay off.
How was production altered to adhere to Covid shoot guidelines?
The most important thing is making sure everyone is comfortable and safe. We had contingencies in case anything were to go wrong and made sure that we could still go ahead with an altered version of the activation if absolutely necessary. We had plan A, B and C for the creative side of the project, preparation was key.