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The Entertainment Factor
7,000 submissions, this was the largest active screenwriting community in the world.
A Big Idea Gets Bigger
HBO produced a 12-part documentary series on the making of the movie, which was broadcast in the winter of 2002, prior to the film’s theatrical release. From a business standpoint, the financial risk was negligible. A documentary shot on videotape with ready-made material that had been used for a low-budget HBO series. And it turned out to be very compelling television. Viewers experienced what it was like for a complete novice—the winner’s only film experience had been a couple of stints as a production assistant—to direct a film. Actors came on board for far less than their standard wages, and the company was able to procure the workforce for below-standard union pay scales.
Though critics had mixed reviews of the final movie, Stolen Summer, the HBO Project Greenlight series was a critical and popular
success. The Los Angeles Times called the series “a compulsively watchable word-of-mouth hit.”8 Viewers witnessed every mistake, argument, and crisis. Real-life Hollywood characters lived up to, and beyond, our stereotyped expectations of outrageous behavior. Some cynical critics even suggested that the director had been chosen precisely for his inexperience and naivete, to create drama between him and the personalities of the film business. Whether by carefully laid plans or just plain luck, the people behind Project Green-light had managed to create a compelling and highly entertaining brand experience.
Add up the elements: The Project Greenlight team created a global screenwriting community, then allowed this community to select the contest winner; they produced the film, and then leveraged it with a hit HBO TV series. That’s a big Creative Business Idea. And it led to another breakthrough business idea. Damon and Affleck are
Ed Schlossberg and ESI
now cofounders of a venture called LivePlanet, which was formed with the specific intent of creating integrated media entertainment experiences. Their plan is to use traditional media, new media, and the physical world to provide a new kind of entertainment. “Live-Planet is taking things that people already know and do,” says Live-Planet CEO Chris Moore, “like watching television, using the Web and wireless devices and going to events—and making them better, more complete and more accessible. We think that means that people will have more fun.”9
Before You Leap:
• Know the consumer DNA as well as you know the brand DNA—the space in between is where CBIs happen.
• Make the brand experience fun, make it entertaining. In the future, the entertainment factor associated with your brand may be as much of a draw as the product itself.
• As the world turns, the consumer changes. Keep redefining the consumer relationship and the brand experience. People’s passions change.
Ed Schlossberg and ESI
In the future, we will be turning more and more to nontraditional partners, those outside the traditional business universe we used to be in. This is particularly true as we begin to transform all brand experiences into entertainment experiences and as it becomes imperative to connect consumers to our brands and our ideas in new ways.
It's All in the Game
I regularly meet with people outside of our industry, and one person I have gotten to know is Edwin Schlossberg. Schlossberg has a doctorate degree in Science and Literature from Columbia University. He is the author of a number of books, including a collection of poetry, and has coauthored several game books. One of them, The Pocket Calculator Game Book, came out in the early days of electronics, and it was a kind of “101 games you can play with your calculator.” They were literally games you played with just the calculator—and as twentieth
The Entertainment Factor
century as it now sounds, it was a very original concept, and the book sold a great number of copies in several languages.10
In 1977, Schlossberg founded Edwin Schlossberg Incorporated (ESI), a multidisciplinary firm that specializes in interactive design for public places. His company has done work for museums, zoos, parks, cable channels, and utility companies. He designed the lobby in the AOL Time Warner building and programmed 1,000 square feet of signage space to display an ever-changing video presentation of animated logos, movies, television, and live broadcasts. The way it’s designed, no two visitors will ever see the same presentation.
He also created the science and technology museum at Sony Plaza, Sony Wonder Technology Lab, where children learn about technology as they play with it. It’s a free public space where the visitor is at the center of the experience and invited to become a “media trainee.” As you go through your “training,” you see and hear great moments in the history of communication technology and participate in a high-definition-television training experience. Then you can use your new skills in activities that simulate a variety of media professions, such as robotics engineer, camera operator, and video game designer.