Google Case study THE WILDERNESS DOWNTOWN by Google Creative Lab

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Industry Software & Multimedia Productions, SaaS
Media Case study
Market United States
Agency Google Creative Lab
Released October 2010

Credits & Description

Category: Titanium and Integrated
Advertiser: GOOGLE
Product/Service: ARCADE FIRE
Date of First Appearance: Aug 30 2010
Entry URL:
: (Google Creative Lab)
: Chris Milk (Radical Media)
: (Arcade Fire)
: Mr. doob
: (B-Reel)
Media placement: Website - NA - 30/08/10

Describe the campaign/entry
"The Wilderness Downtown" is built entirely with the latest open web technologies, including a modern web programming language HTML5 video, audio and canvas. At this time, Safari, Opera, and Chrome are HTML5 compliant enough to support this experience. Please view the site with one of these browsers. One of the project's main purposes is to promote an interest in HTML5, Google Maps and Streetview to create startling individualized videos that play in sync with the Arcade Fire song "We Used to Wait." The film takes on a personal approach by prompting users to input an address from their childhood, which in turn places them at the center of the film’s narrative. The user is taken on a visual journey combining pre-produced video segments, real-time Google Map animations, and a digital postcard, where they’re invited to type or hand-write a message of advice for their younger self.

Describe how the campaign/entry was launched across each channel in the order of implementation
An interactive interpretation of Arcade Fire's song "We Used To Wait," The Wilderness Downtown uses cutting-edge technology to create an intimate, emotional online experience. It is human nostalgia generated by the most advanced technology available today. The Wilderness Downtown reinvents the music video from linear broadcast content into multi-layered, interactive experience through choreographed windows, user-specific custom-rendered maps, real-time compositing, and 3D canvas rendering. At the end, viewers create digitally "handwritten" postcards.
The Wilderness Machine, a traveling installation conceived as a companion to the online experience, extends the project into the analog world by physically reproducing each digital postcard and mailing it to a randomly-selected viewer. The postcard includes a code allowing the recipient to write back to the original sender via the website. The postcards are printed on compostable seeded paper which, if planted, grows into birch trees – a real world re-creation of the climactic scene in the video.

Give some idea of how successful this campaign/entry was with both client and consumer
Through word-of-mouth, users from around the world have been able to visit the site, appreciate its technical and artistic value, and each engage in their own moment of personal nostalgia. A billion people downloaded Chrome and now it is the most popular browser on earth.