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Case Studies Jay Bennett/ Totally Amp'd
Jay Bennett is an award-winning Transmedia creator, producer and writer with a distinct focus on creating engaging stories to attract and retain mainstream audiences. His company, Smokebomb, creates entertainment for multiple platforms, their latest project, Totally Amp'd, is a hybrid web-series application designed for the tween audience. His presentation provided a complete case study of the process he and his team went through from inception through to distribution of the product including lessons learned and reflective thoughts for subsequent versions.Totally Amp'd
Totally Amp’d tells the story of five talented teenagers who are brought together to become the next big pop group, it features a 10-appisode live-action music comedy series, an original soundtrack and a suite of interactive activities designed to fully immerse kids in the action.
Smokebomb creates entertainment for multiple platforms. With each new project, they examine the story being told and imagine how that story will play out across TV, computers, mobile devices, as well as within the physical world. The resultant projects involve a combination of filmed entertainment, engaging web experiences and an experiential marketing which draws the audience deep into the story being told.
During his presentation, Jay explained how Smokebomb has developed an innovative way to work within cross-platform media. The concept that the creators have become the broadcasters was a driving factor behind the creation of Totally Amp'd. This model would essentially cut broadcast companies out of the picture to provide more creative freedom for the team.
One of Smokebomb's primary partners on the project was Wattpad. Each of the five main characters had a story and a video of themselves which became part of the experience.
Jay also shared with the audience the lessons Smokebomb learned during the creation, promotion and release of Totally Amp'd. Some of the lessons learned concerned the use of social media, specifically with Facebook. Totally Amp'd was targeted towards a young audience, many of which do not have a social media presence, this lead to difficulty in promoting and using the platforms as a marketing vehicle for their audience. On a related note in terms of marketing, Jay recommended that a good portion of marketing funds should go towards Facebook advertising and to target parents of tweens and school age children. In an effort to create an organic conversation about the initial release Smokebomb paid for bloggers to go to the studio in Canada in an effort to encourage them to write about the project however Jay indicated that afterwards they realized the money they used to pay for the bloggers, dinners, rooms, etc., would have been better served to pay for Facebook advertising. Bloggers he concluded, would write reviews about the application regardless of whether they were paid or not.
Another conclusion that Smokebomb reached was that deployment strategy is very important. The Totally Amp'd application was very large, over 1 GB, and took between twenty and thirty minutes to to download. This was too large a download for the initial launch, the fundamental lesson learned was that a release needed to happen over time. Episode 1 was released on Christmas 2011 for free on YouTube. This was a hook to help drive sales for the initial launch of the application which was set for January 26th of 2012.