iTV Report: The making of the Chemical Brothers

The idea for the Chemical Brothers' album launch came to Weapon7's creative partner, Simon Smith, and Mark Brown, the strategy partner, after a night of ethnological research. In a club.

The team heads over to Virgin Records to give our digital revolution presentation to the marketing department. The idea is to open minds and debate the power of the digital TV medium. The marketing people seem interested: heads nodding, not many people daydreaming. We get to the end and they cut straight to the chase: how much and what are the timescales?

OK, seems like it's all too expensive and the timescales too long. However, having worked with the industry before making interactive music videos, we know we can make things happen.

Ben Curwin, the marketing manager at Virgin, mentions the upcoming Chemical Brothers album is called Push the Button. We say: "If we can't make an interactive ad with an album called Push the Button aimed at the digital generation, then there is no f*&*%*g hope." All agree. We have something to work with, time to leg it.

Week one - it starts

Briefing: now that the idea of doing something is real, time to make some things happen. Get over to Virgin to discuss options. Budget on this campaign is small but that just means we have to come up with something better than interviews and a "making of the ..." video. Going to have to get under the skin of the target audience.

Consumer immersion: a great excuse to do some ethnography. Mid-week club crawl round London. This audience is switched on and connected; a great opportunity to do something breakthrough. "People really want to listen to the music, baby."

To Virgin for a rough-and-tumble session. It's a difficult insight to present: walking into a music company and saying "it's all about the music" is egg-sucking. But they get it, they buy it and they get on with it. We discuss the band, their music and their fans. The project now has lorry-loads of momentum, time to deliver.

Time to get creative: how can we make the launch of the Chemical Brothers' album on TV something people will want to interact with?

The album is very strong and grows on you. Let people hear it. Ah, easy ... (isn't hindsight lovely?). But the real problem, however, is to work out how to make people aware that they can listen to the new album on TV before it is released. "Press red" is just not enough.

What about if the TV ad had an invitation to interact built into the spot? Digital TV becomes the first place people can hear the album. Bang, we are releasing the album on TV.

What a week. Great excuse to do more "ethnography".

Week two - do it

Call to Sky Media to discuss bandwidth and costs. A few production issues to overcome, but it can be done.

Meet with Carat to present the idea and costs. We haven't worked directly with Carat before. They like it; the numbers add up. We are on!

The album is all about propaganda. The album should be released in the style of a propaganda broadcast, with the music forcing its way out over the digital airwaves. It has some pretty powerful lyrics and messages, which all add to the propaganda feel. The trick is to work with the technology to provide the viewer with a really rich but simple experience.

Week three - work it

Virgin receives various animated creative directions. We discuss the options with Ben. One from Cops & Robbers looks good and could be made to work digitally. Meet with Cops & Robbers to talk through the digital idea. They get it. It works! We have an ad designed to grab the analogue and digital audience without a bolt-on in sight.

Time to get the design of the application finished. Agree with Virgin the five best tracks and lyrics.

Meet with Ben at Virgin to present the creative work. There is some discussion about adding more information, but great digital TV advertising is about giving viewers everything they want, not everything they could have. We want to keep it clean and everyone agrees.

Meet with Channel 4 to discuss the possibility of a PR launch for The Chems application. Agree to hold drinks reception at Channel 4's Hub.

Week four - it's alive

Simon Smith treks out to Sky at Osterley (London Underground Zone 4; feels like 24!) to see work in progress and deal with some technical issues.

Everything's looking great. Nerves are starting to build.

Receive the final broadcast ad from Cops & Robbers. It works exactly as we had hoped.

Campaign breaks. Launch party at Channel 4. Bang, more ethnography.

Call Virgin to find out how the midweeks look. Number one at the moment. Fingers crossed ...

Topics