Home > arg, creative club > 26/11/09 – the first creative club – a look at ARGs

26/11/09 – the first creative club – a look at ARGs

So history was in the making yesterday as we kicked off our first creative club here at RKCR/ Saint.

We had creative from both digital and traditional backgrounds together with me as the curator.

The point of these sessions were to provide a platform to discuss the good work that’s out there, but also get to talk about some obscures technological jargon and technology. The first of them being ARG (Alternative Reality Games for the non connoisseurs).

We started the session by doing a quick round up of what was new in the advertising world.

  • New-(ish) at least for me was the deal that Anomaly stroke with Lauren Luke. From Adweek:

By Lauren Luke is a line of cosmetics that is the signature line of Lauren Luke, a woman in Newcastle, Great Britain, who rose to YouTube fame through a series of how-to videos for applying makeup. The line is available at a brand Web site, and Anomaly is negotiating with retailers to get the cosmetics stocked in stores. Anomaly has also brokered a book deal for Luke and is negotiating with production companies about putting her on broadcast TV.

Now the genius bit is that every advertising agency looking at the growing influence of that girl would have thought: “how can we get her to endorse our beauty products”. But not Anomaly, who were quick to realise she should have her own brand. They look after the logistics and marketing, she just keeps doing what she loves. Win-Win situation. This is the future.

  • Justin Timberlake playing crazy ping pong with an American Footballer for a slightly unreal Sony commercial.

It’s funnish. BUT auto-tune the ad and it becomes freaking hilarious:

  • Ikea + facebook. Very clever Swede action.
  • Siny Suds, new ad from Droga. Just because it’s funny. And clever.
  • A mountain of websites:


Just because the website is amazing and the integration of twitter and the likes is very neat and actually has a purpose rather than just being a flow of tweets.

  • Art of the Trench for Burberry and from BBH

Just because it is a raelly neat way of showcasing your products. Bit of social media, subtly integrated. And they have managed to do what everyone had been trying to do for a long time. Get to work with the Sartorialist. Yes I’m jealous.

Then we had our creative interval.

That’s Marcel Proust.  He was a funny man. Spent most of his liffe on his bed. But he used to one thing that caught my attention. He used to cut newspapers headlines and make up the story around it, just because he found it a lot more interesting that the actual real story. So I cut some headlines from the Sun and the Daily Mail and gave them to the creative for them to make up the story around it. It was fun. And I can’t possibly publish the outcome of that as it would be too vulgar.

Moving on to the theme of the week: ARG.

What is an ARG (From the excellent Jawbone.tv. The evolution of story)

An ARG is an interactive story that uses many channels, both real world and online, to create a game experience directly influenced by players
ARGs have typically existed outside the mainstream–customarily driven by a loyal, niche game community that finds and solves clues littered throughout the Web.
We then went on to show for of the best case studies from the 2 mots innovative companies in the field: 42 entertainment and Campfire.
1. First on the list was the AWESOME dark night ARG.

The case study and results are mental.

2. The equally awesome True Blood campaign

3. I love Bees for Halo 2

4. The mother of all ARG. Audi Art of the Heist. Just because I wanted to show them that you don’t need the back up of an entertainment property and the back-up of millions of already existing fans. You can create it from scratch.

5. Nokia ‘lost my phone’ campaign from WK

Now I used this campaign as an example of fail. I know sorry my WK friends, but this campaign was missing something vital in the success of an ARG. A point. A ‘why should I engage with it’ hook. The content is of amazing quality, it’s well written and the sheer amount of stuff that produced for it was mind blowing. But, it had no point aart from following 3 pre-fabricated young good looking characters.

6. The best thing I’ve seen this year by a mile

7.  a live ARG that’s far too complicated for me but which production values are amazing

It starts as a graphic novel and gives you control of the story. Prety neat. I just had choose your own adventure type of books when I was a kid. Those were the days…

More on that game here: http://www.argn.com/2009/11/exoriare_exploring_the_darknet/

And a quick summary. There is obviously much more to say than that, but it’s a start:

  1. Don’t start with an ARG. Start with an idea. All the examples started with an idea, apart from the Nokia one that started with wanting to do an ARG.
  2. Know your audience. It’s not just for geeks. A Eurostar promotion for the Da Vinci code drew millions of visits to their game, most were coming from middle age women. Every kind of audience could be interested in playing as long as its designed for them and according to their interests.
  3. Use multiple media and channels, but treat each piece of content as a potential point of entry in the story / game. If you miss the beginning, it should always be easy to get started even half through.
  4. Plan for the mainstream (low involvement) as well as the hard core (high involvement). Only a tiny percent of your audience will want to go deep in an ARG. And that’s fine, just make sure you can participate into it without having to spend zillions of hours into it.
  5. Authenticity & credibility. Don’t lie or try to fool people. They’ll engage if they think it’s worth it. No need to hide your involvement until the end.
  6. Reward user involvement – Why should they take part in it?
  7. People engage with stories and characters – but you need a strong creative hook first. That’s the most critical point. WHat is the point? The creative hook? if  you can’t honestly answer that, don’t get started.
  8. Tie it back to the product / brand message.
  9. Work with specialists. You can’t do it all on your own.
  10. Only do one if you think you can gather enough fans to participate into it, otherwise you’ll fail miserably. And le’ts face it, ARG probably work better for entertainment properties… Or if you don’t have one, create one (i.e. Happiness factory for Coke could be turned into an ARG, etc.)
Next creative club session hopefully next week. Enjoy!

  1. yannk
    November 26, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Great post, love it!

    • Digicynic
      November 26, 2009 at 5:08 pm

      thanks Yann, hope you are well.

  2. Helen
    December 15, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Love your round-up. For a more wide-spanning look at digital advertising/marketing you should check out this online vote at http://www.goviral.com/game_changers to decide the most game-changing online branded content of the decade. Funnily enough the Ikea dream kitchen interactive website that you commented on last year is one of the campaigns nominated, as is Dark Night’s Why So Serious viral.

  3. March 5, 2010 at 1:43 am

    Nice of you to post these commercials all here.

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