While online ad content is inundated with “action, intensity and humor, what you don’t see very much is love,” says PJ Pereira, co-founder of integrated agency Pereira & O’Dell. So when Intel and Toshiba turned to the agency to craft a fan-centric social film to promote Toshiba’s Portégé Ultrabook and Intel software, they decided to make it an online coming-of-age love story.
The twist is that the lead character Alex, wakes up every day in a different body. That way dozens of ordinary people could be portray Alex in the film’s six weekly episodes which ran Aug. 16-Sept. 20.
Going romantic turned out to be a good bet. The film attracted 55 million views and 94,000 Facebook “likes” by early October, said a Pereira & O’Dell rep. For three weeks in August, it remained the top viral video ad, according to Visible Measures.
Dubbed “The Beauty Inside” to tie to the iconic “Intel Inside” tag, the project attracted more than 4,000 people to audition to portray Alex, if only for a second. Using a Facebook app, they recorded themselves reading a script. Then they asked friends to like their audition videos, which helped their chances of getting chosen and built buzz for the film. Director Drake Doremus made the final selection of 26 people who appeared in The Beauty Inside. An additional 50 were featured on the film’s branded Facebook timeline via photos and videos. Auditions were held right up to the day before the last episode.
Paid digital ads promoting the auditions and the series ran from mid-July to the end of September. The ads appeared on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, as well as on tech, entertainment, gaming and pop culture media, said Justin Cox, Pereira & O’Dell’s brand strategist.
The project targeted 18-34-year-olds and Pereira said the audience seemed equally divided among men and women. “Females commented a lot about how cute the actor Topher Grace is while the guys seemed intrigued by the idea of someone inhabiting different bodies,” he said.`
On Facebook, agency writers had the Alex character post comments related to the plot, and staffers were surprised to see how many young men asked him for relationship advice, even though they knew he was fictional.
The Facebook page also had a tab for “Alex’s computer” that featured product information about the new Ultrabook. “The goal was not to sell units, but to increase favorability about the two brands among younger consumers,” said Pereira.
This was the agency’s second social film for Toshiba and Intel. In the summer of 2011, they debuted a dark thriller, “The Inside Experience,” about a desperate young woman trapped in a room with only a Toshiba laptop. The audience was asked to send her ideas on how to escape. Those ideas and her reactions were shown in real time and episodes aired based on audience input. It ran 11 days compared to the six weeks of the second film and garnered 15 million views in the United States and 35 million in China.
“The first film got more comments but the second film got more shares and a greater number of profound conversations,” said Pereira. “What we’ve learned is that viewers will come for the innovation of a project like this, but they will stay for the story. The story matters a lot.”
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