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HBO Imagines a new Voyeur

A drowning mime, a Japanese businessman and a pile of teddy bears feature in a new branding campaign for HBO that will launch Thursday with a video cube installation in New York’s Meatpacking District.
The Imagine campaign is BBDO, New York’s follow-up to its award-winning 2007 Voyeur campaign for the cable network. Like Voyeur, the new campaign will feature outdoor, digital and television elements focused around a dramatic multi-part storyline viewers can uncover in bits and pieces.
On Sept. 17, the video cube will begin projecting two two-minute short films shot from four different angles by Biscuit Filmworks director Noam Murro. The installation will run for three days before moving on to Philadelphia on Oct. 1 and Washington, DC on Oct. 8.
The displays are intended to draw viewers into a complex, 41-part story full of misdirects and shifting perspectives inspired by the tagline, “It’s more than you imagined. It’s HBO.”
The campaign site HBOImagine.com, created by The Barbarian Group, houses more than 40 minutes of film content in a fragmented constellation. Vieiwers can click on an image to activate short and long clips, audio, photos and newspaper clippings. Each time a viewer watches a clip, new footage is unlocked and linked together. Ultimately the goal is to piece together the non-linear story to realize the complete plotline.
One of the lessons BBDO’s creative team learned on Voyeur was that viewers will breeze through content if it’s easily accessible.
“We were naïve in how much digging and time people would spend with something that they really liked,” says David Lubars, chairman and chief creative officer of BBDO North America. “We thought it would take weeks and they were done in an hour and a half.”
The website is structured like a videogame, keeping a running tab of the amount of footage “unlocked” by viewers.
“[Voyeur] was linear – it had a beginning, middle and end,” adds Lubars. “With this campaign you can come in anywhere. It’s almost like a game or a real life investigation where there’s a bunch of facts and you can go back, you can go forward or you can go sideways.”
BBDO and The Barbarian Group began talking about the campaign during the Cannes Lions and the production took place over several months. As the website development progressed, so too did the campaign storyline.
“We did prototypes of the web experience and once we realized we were on to something really interesting, the gang at BBDO went back and made more content,” says Benjamin Palmer, co-founder and CEO of The Barbarian Group. “We could see where the story holes might be. It was pretty cool to see how the user experience prototypes stimulated the story and the storytelling.”
All the clips on the Imagine microsite will be shareable and viewers will be able upload their own clips inspired by the story. The campaign will also roll out via HBO’s branded social media channels, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Lubars adds that in order to succeed, the campaign had to meet the high-quality production values in HBO’s programming. Veteran commercial director Murro was recruited to direct and a variety of composers, including David Shire (The Conversation, Zodiac) and Nico Muhly (The Reader), scored the various components.
“This stuff has to live up to the product. It has to be as in-depth and interesting to truly convey what HBO is doing,” says Lubars. “If you don’t have HBO, you don’t know what’s going on in popular culture. So the whole idea was to create something that nobody would want to miss either.”

HBO-Imagine
What do a drowning mime, a Japanese businessman and a pile of teddy bears have in common? They are all part of the new Imagine campaign created by BBDO as the follow-up to the award-winning 2007 Voyeur campaign. The campaign launched last Thursday with a video cube installation in New York’s Meatpacking District. The videos on the cube are two two-minute short films shot from four different angles. The cube was in NYC for three days and is now moving on to Philadelphia on Oct. 1 and then Washington, DC on Oct. 8. If you can’t make it to one of those locations then you can go to HBOImagine.com which has 41 video clips, audio clips, photos and newspaper clippings displayed in a 3D  web. Each time you watch a clip then new footage is unlocked and linked together to complete the story through non-linear storytelling. The addition of this non-linear story telling is a key change from the Voyeur campaign where the story was very linear. I have just started to explore all of the content and will have more thoughts once I have been able to make my way through it all but if you get there first post your thoughts in the comments.

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Creative Director, Designer, Brand Builder, Speaker, Podcaster, Crazy One. As a designer, I have 20+ years experience creating the strategy, concepts, and designs for award-winning integrated global advertising campaigns, building multiple global Fortune 500 brands and creating innovative digital experiences. As a leader, I have 15+ years transforming agency and client-side teams using a mix of creativity, business strategy, process and political skill to create innovative, world-class work and cultures that change industries and companies. My clients have included American Airlines, W Hotels, Disney, Citi, ExxonMobil, Acura, Old Navy, Nationwide Insurance, Verizon, Subaru and many others. My work has received over 150 international awards, my app designs have been named as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Apps, Apple has featured my work in 9 keynotes, 4 TV commercials and more.

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