Member News June 7, 2013
ADC International Member, Stefan Becker has recently left Germany and arrived in NYC to take on the advertising and startup industry here. As a digital creative and copywriter with a load of experience in the classical disciplines of advertising, Stefan talked with us about his twist on interactive projects, which challenges he has been facing and what he loves most about the Tomorrow Awards.
ADC: How did you start in advertising and where are you now?
Stefan: 13 years ago, I started in classical disciplines: print, radio, TV, trade marketing, etc. In 2005, I moved in into digital and, three years later, founded the company, BUZZIN MONKEY to support brands and agencies alike with copy writing, campaign concepts, and creative direction, up to full service by assembling freelance and project teams. Apart from this, I’m also freelancing for ad agencies.
ADC: Why did you move to digital?
Stefan: It was so much more possible back in those days. In 2006, there were agencies coming up providing services specialized in social media and viral marketing. It was the time when Facebook started growing and with it the social media agencies. Smaller shops had been more flexible and faster than big companies. I wanted to work in this field because it was so exciting to have a bigger playground, to have so much more tools to create innovation and to do advertising.
ADC: What was your first augmented reality gig?
Stefan: MINI Worldpremiere in your Hands. We had these newspaper ads; when you turned the newspaper, the 3D model of the car on the ad would turn too. If you’re changing the perspective, the object is changing the perspective. You’re going a little bit further away; it’s getting a little bit smaller. It’s really connected to the ad and follows your moves.
It was the first of many augmented reality ads, and it generated a lot of buzz. We got a lot of earned media, up to television even. It’s just a great story, a car world premiere in your hands.
ADC: What do you think is more difficult: creating the concept or your process after you’ve arrived at the concept?
Stefan: Years ago, if you were for example running a billboard or print campaign, you just had a visual and headline—it was all about a great headline, copy and visual. That´s it. Of course you had multichannel campaigns and concepts had to work in TV, radio, POS etc. too. But nowadays all the new channels have so many more facets. And it never stops. So I think the idea becomes more and more important: to be strong enough to work in every channel and to enable customer journeys over many touch points.The more you spread it across enumerable channels, the more you have to take care that everything is on strategy and giving the people the same message. Everything has to stick to this one idea. The concept phase is shorter than the whole execution, but it is as important then the execution.
ADC: Now let’s talk the Red Bull Formula Face. Can you just describe it briefly?
Stefan: Red Bull Formula Face is a browser-racing game. You steer with your facial expressions. The software tracks your facial movement and mimic: you steer left or right by tilting your head; you get a turbo boost when you blink; you activate certain items when you smile. The game connects to Facebook, so your pictures are shared and you can challenge friends.Even if people are just playing a racing game on a console and using a Joypad, sometimes they’re moving their whole body and head to go in the curves. It’s intuitive.
ADC: What’s the backstory?
Stefan: A German university was conducting experiments: how can a computer detect the faces of people; can you track mimic; can you detect the gender; can you determine age?We thought, “How can we use this technology in advertising?” It was very exciting. Could we take something very, very technical and make it fun by creating a usage or an emotional moment for people. That’s when we started talking to Red Bull. And as an innovative brand which is happy to try out new things, they loved the idea.
ADC: What was one of the biggest challenges?
Stefan: To develop the software, to refine the tracking technology and to make sure that it was a good gameplay, a fun user experience. It was a big challenge to bring all technological sides together: the face-tracking software, the database, the Facebook connect, and the website.
Another challenge was to find a style for the game because you have to care about loading times and performance; you have to keep the 3D content as small as possible, and; you have to compete against super realistic console games when you try too make it as realistic as possible. We came up with the “paper style.” Every object that could now be cornered looked as if it were made out of paper and handcrafted. Objects are small in size and cool. It influenced the whole campaign, from “paper foldables” to download to “paper foldable” flyers. We were inspired by artists like Shin Tanaka or Dolly Oblong.
ADC: Why do you think it did well in the Tomorrow Awards when it was entered?
Stefan: I think that the Tomorrow Awards are about innovation and just doing stuff, nobody had done before. This was pretty much the very first track-mimic browser game. We were the first to tackle it. We reached people with a new experience, something they hadn’t seen.
ADC: We just want to say that Mercedes AMG “Christmas” was hilarious. Did you enjoy making that?
Stefan: It was so fun to combine this very romantic idea of Christmas, cookies, Christmas tree, and stuff, with motorsports and a loud, fast car with a powerful V8 engine. We haven´t had much time to shoot and a small setup, but the spot tells the story very well and it went viral.
ADC: Did you eat a lot of cookies?
Stefan: (Laughter) We had to watch out that nobody at the set ate the stars of the spot.
ADC: Is there anything else you want to say to the ADC community?
Stefan: What I really like about ADC is that it has a strong legacy but is current. The StartUP events for example are great because they merge the advertising scene with the start-up scene. What is happening anyway out there. Participating in Tomorrow Awards was great. I think that I would advise young people to get the wide impression of marketing that ADC identifies with. You can focus on a certain area, a field you want to work, but today everything is connected and multichannel. Learn about how every channel’s works.
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