Mike Monello, Campfire’s Chief Creative Officer, looks at the power of narrative across channels in this recent piece featured in MediaPost’s OMMA Magazine.
In 1998 I joined four friends in Orlando, Fl., to produce what started out as a traditional independent film project and ended up as The Blair Witch Project. Bringing to life the legend of the Blair Witch across various media - film, Web site, tv special, book, comic-book series and pc games - was the most unusual and incredible storytelling experience of my life.
There was a perpetual adrenaline rush in telling the story online in real time to an expanding audience. Even in those early days of online community, before Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we developed a deeply meaningful connection with fans clamoring to see the movie months before it was complete. We drove fan behaviors that were far more valuable from a business perspective than clicking a “Share” button: ultimately, fans called local theater managers and demanded Blair Witch, pushing us from the tiny art-house release we had planned into a mainstream summer hit on 2,500 screens. The experience of making and marketing The Blair Witch Project opened my eyes to the power and possibilities of storytelling in a hyperconnected world.
Fast-forward thirteen years. Hyperconnectivity has given scale and visibility to consumer behaviors that were previously overshadowed by mass communications. We’ve witnessed the emergence and spread of social networks and memes, the democratization of news, the rise of the online influencer, mobile technology, cloud computing and the “Creative Technologist.”
But, hyperconnectivity isn’t just about technology, media channels and networks. At heart, it’s about the power of word-of-mouth and new applications for the oldest of oral traditions - storytelling. In the heyday of the 30-second spot, advertisers used stories to educate and convert a captive, attentive consumer. Today, hyperconnectivity has led to fragmentation. Audiences are conditioned to receive information whenever and wherever they want it, across multiple screens, in 140 characters, in countless newsfeeds editorialized by their friends.