The Village Voice Case study 8 MILLION PROTAGONISTS by Leo Burnett New York

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Industry Newspapers
Media Case study
Market United States
Agency Leo Burnett New York
Director Stephen Bishop Seely
Copywriter Simen Braathen
Designer Steven Jordao
Producer Shaina Stigler
Released May 2013


Cannes Lions 2013
Direct Lions Best Integrated Campaign Led by Direct Marketing Silver
Direct Lions Product & Service; Publications & Media Silver
Promo and Activation Lions Use of Promo & Activation; Best Use of Experiential Marketing in a Promotional Campaign Bronze

Credits & Description

Type of entry: Product & Service
Category: Publications & Media
Chief Creative Officer: Jay Benjamin (Leo Burnett New York)
Executive Creative Director/Copywriter: Michael Canning (Leo Burnett New York)
Executive Creative Director/Art Director: Kieran Antill (Leo Burnett New York)
Managing Director: Tom Flanagan (Leo Burnett New York)
Account Executive: Emily Brau (Leo Burnett New York)
Executive Producer: Jeremy Fox (Leo Burnett New York)
Senior Art Director: Stian Bugten (Leo Burnett New York)
Copywriter: Simen Braathen (Leo Burnett New York)
Producer: Shaina Stigler (Leo Burnett New York)
Production Assistant/Editor: Tom Pina (Leo Burnett New York)
Designer: Steven Jordao (Leo Burnett New York)
Cultural Architect: Max Goodwin (Leo Burnett New York)
Web Developer: (Avant)
Production Company: (LB Entertainment / Bill Thomas / Radical Media)
Music/Music Production: (Comma Music / Motive / Big Foot / Mophonics / Sofie Zamchick / World War / Dara Hartman / Maryanna Sokol)
Sound Mix: (Heard City)
Publisher: Josh Fromson (Village Voice Newspaper)
Script Writer: Caitlin Gallo ()
Director: Stephen Bishop Seely ()
Choreographer: Jimmy Burgio ()
Describe the brief from the client
The Village Voice is an iconic editorial channel. The highly competitive editorial market in New York and the USA meant that the Village Voice had to re-establish its position as the real, uncensored voice of NY, and a go-to source of arts and culture. We began with the strategy that rather than just compete directly with the competition, we would prove our position in a way that only Village Voice can – and create a new platform of content that harnesses the real stories of New Yorkers as an entirely new space for an editorial brand.

Creative Execution

Village Voice has a heritage of capturing the real, uncensored voice of New York, and being a go-to source of arts and culture. ‘New York Writes’ and the resulting Off-Broadway play ‘8 Million Protagonists’ has breathed new life into the brand position, by creating a new channel of arts and culture itself, that is fuelled by the real, uncensored stories of New Yorkers. This new platform of crowd sourced content is an entirely new space for an editorial brand to occupy, and has proved that the Village Voice captures the real, uncensored voice of New York.

Creative Solution to the Brief/Objective.

We began with the insight that the most real, uncensored and entertaining stories that exist in New York, come from people on the street. Our creative solution was to give people a simple online destination to write down these great stories called ‘New York Writes’, which can then be re-created as reality driven content. The best stories submitted were re-created as a first of its kind crowd sourced Off-Broadway play called ‘8 Million Protagonists’.


The idea struck a real cultural vein in NY, using theatre as an entirely new content platform for an editorial brand, generating:
- 51 million media impressions
- 84 articles from editorial channels outside The Village Voice, including New York Times, Fast Company, Playbill and New York Theater Review.
- 20% increase in traffic to following launch
- Sold out shows over 2 weeks in Manhattan
- 9.5 minutes average time per visit at
- 2 million unique visits to to date
- $20,000 in tickets sales donated to NY Hurricane Sandy victims.