Campaign case study: Brandon generates interest in Explorer 9

Microsoft asked 3 Monkeys Communications to devise a fully integrated campaign that would position Internet Explorer 9 as an innovative must-have browser.

Brandon Generator: A disused warehouse in east London premiered the final episode
Brandon Generator: A disused warehouse in east London premiered the final episode

Campaign  The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator
Client         Microsoft Internet Explorer
PR teams   In-house and 3 Monkeys Communications
Timescale  April-September 2012
Budget       PR, £70,000; premiere event, £150,000

• To shift perceptions and create engagement with the browser’s target audience of tech savvy web users
• To position Internet Explorer 9 as a must-have browser, by showcasing the visual experiences it could offer through HTML5.

Strategy and plan
3 Monkeys Communications suggested working with esteemed directors and illustrators to create an animated graphic web series, enhanced by Internet Explorer 9. The audience would be at the centre of the production. 

Award-winning director Edgar Wright and illustrator Tommy Lee Edwards were recruited. Narration was provided by The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt, with music from DJ David Holmes. 

The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator, a film noir-style series about an author with writer’s block, was created. It was accessible across multiple devices, exclusively in HTML5. 

A launch teaser to announce the project and people’s involvement was distributed via social media. To involve the audience, content was crowd-sourced for chapters two to four.

At the end of the first episode, viewers were invited to submit prose and drawings, or leave voice messages for the protagonist, shaping his future adventures. The aud­ience was also given the opportunity to play Brandon’s animated girlfriend via social networks, including Facebook.

Media briefings revealed fresh content, while creating excitement around episode releases.  The team seeded each chapter on film, comic and gaming sites, encouraging viewers to share their discovery.

The final episode was premiered to the media, bloggers, contributors and competition winners at a disused warehouse that simulated the protagonist’s loft. There were floor-to-ceiling projections of the animation and walk-through exhibitions, which brought the series to life.

Measurement and evaluation More than 200 pieces of coverage were secured in national publications and broadcast media, as well as specialist consumer technology, gaming, film and comic magazines.

Research revealed that there was a 68 per cent increase in the number of people who rated Internet Explorer 9 as an innovative browser after seeing the campaign. 

There was also a 32 per cent increase in favourability and a 35 per cent increase in the number of people who would recommend the browser.

There were more than 600,000 unique visitors to the project site and more than 300,000 YouTube views of the chapters. Tweets and retweets were sent from celebrities including Steven Spielberg, Jonathan Ross and Simon Pegg.

Second Opinion

Alex Pearmain, Director, social and digital marketing, Brands2Life

Browsers are tough things to promote – they are inherently commoditised and intangible.

Differentiation is vital, but tough. The Random Adventures of  Brandon Generator produced some strong coverage and undoubtedly aligned Internet Explorer with credible talent, which was used to good effect to drive coverage.

As a tactic, Google Chrome’s use of Arcade Fire to showcase the capabilities of its HTML5 browser had previously demonstrated the importance of content to the web-tech audience, which was a lesson clearly learned. 

The site was somewhat pushy when viewed on Chrome by advising me to try Windows before accessing the content, but once into the site it dealt well with the tension of users accessing the content via rival browser products.

Big multi-agency launches, where digital production is dependent on partners other than PR, can be complex, but the team produced an integrated campaign that had legs for PR, social and above-the-line marketing alike.

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