Sony Ericsson Design & Branding, Case study, Making of THE SWARM by LBi

THE SWARM

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Industry Mobile phones, devices & accessories
Media Design & Branding, Case study, Making of
Market United Kingdom
Agency LBi
Released January 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Best use or integration of digital media
Advertiser: SONY MOBILE
Product/Service: XPERIA SMARTPHONES
Agency: LBi
Media placement: Film - http://www.xperiastudio.com/ - 30th Of January 2012

Campaign Description
Xperia Studio is a global programme of inspiring online content designed to give Sony’s Xperia smartphone brand an edge over big-budget rivals like Apple and Samsung.
Because the project lived primarily online, regulatory challenges were not a major consideration. However, we were determined to avoid the kind of branded entertainment that an increasingly relaxed regulatory climate has enabled in offline broadcasting: sponsorships, advertiser funded programming and product placement where brands are crudely inserted into programming that may say little about the brand, but are merely to gain eyeballs.
Our belief was that if we could create compelling content in which Xperia smartphones played a legitimate role, we would prompt greater commitment in an audience than could be achieved with traditional advertising. Xperia Studio was no place for product demos – we wanted to tell inspiring stories with Xperia at their heart.
We also believed that these stories would be most compelling if they were told with the help of other people. Every piece of Xperia Studio content was built around a collaborator with his or her own passions, voice and audience – artists, inventors, musicians, photographers and filmmakers. The advocacy of these collaborators was a key driver of the credibility of the programme.

Effectiveness
The original client brief asked us ‘to engage early adopters and work with them to advocate and massify Xperia to a wider consumer market’.
The challenge was to do this in a way that was dramatically different from the efforts of competitors like Apple and Samsung.
Our response to Xperia Studio was an open invitation to digital innovators to ‘remake reality’: to create beautiful, disruptive experiences with Xperia’s smartphones at the heart. We would make these collaborators the focus of credible, inspiring online content that would spread with the help of their networks.
We rolled out 10 projects, one after the other to create a continuous conversation around the brand.
Danish interactive art collective Illutron hacked a number of handsets to control physical experiences – for example replacing a phone’s camera flash with a giant flamethrower.
We recreated Android race game Reckless Racing for real – hacking a pair of full-sized cars, so the game’s creator and a leading gaming blogger could race them on an abandoned Cold War air base.
We made ‘The Swarm’. Up-and-coming British film and TV director Tom Harper, hooked on eyewitness footage of incredible phenomena shot on mobile phones, wanted to apply this aesthetic to an alien invasion. The Swarm, a terrifyingly real first-person horror film, was the result.
It launched with a series of tweets from Harper, and his crew and cast, about an exciting new project, #swarmfilm.
2 teaser films slipped out. The first, showing mysterious lights in the sky above north London, caught the attention of UFO bloggers. The second was sent to film media preloaded on an Xperia smartphone.
Then we released The Swarm via a premiere on global innovation blog Mashable, along with ‘The Invasion Will Not Be Televised’, a documentary about the making of The Swarm. A major blogger outreach programme followed.

Implementation

Collaborators were encouraged to share project news via Facebook updates, tweets, pictures and video clips. Film crews cut key moments into short films: these became the main content pieces. The collaborators then shared these with their communities, along with the fruits of their projects – an app, a piece of music or another film.
We wanted to encourage Xperia loyalists to share these stories too. We posted the films to Sony Mobile’s 6m-strong Facebook community – but also used social CRM tool Comufy to create a VIP group who were the first to receive the latest new Xperia Studio content.

Outcome
To date Xperia Studio has created 23 films. Collectively they have generated 1.7m views. The total production budget has been less than $300,000.