TransMedia Workshop in LA – In Attendance April 25

Posted on May 3, 2011


The global demand for producers familiar with the process of developing transmedia content (across several mediums like games, mobile, television and film) for studios and networks is on the rise.  This 4-hour event at the Beverly Hills Hotel was the first of its kind and unique in the world, delivering practical, how-to TransMedia training led by leading cross-platform producer and strategist Jeff Gomez.  He taught his signature TransMedia development process to business executives, content producers, marketers and creators which has been used for such blockbusters as Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean and Tron Legacy, James Cameron’s Avatar, Microsoft’s Halo, Hasbro’s Transformers, Mattel’s Hot Wheels and Coca-Cola’s Happiness Factory.

An excerpt of a former magazine interviews on the Success of TransMedia and Increase in Industry Demand for TransMedia Producers tells the story for 2011 to Brands and Content Outlets.  That story is TransMedia is overturning the entertainment industry and providing many new opportunities to Brands which adopt TransMedia.

Forbes:  What exactly is “transmedia”?
Gomez:  It is the art of conveying a rich message, theme or storyline to a mass audience using multiple media platforms, such as ads, books, videogames, comics and movies. Each part of the story is unique and plays to the strengths of each medium, and the audience is often invited to participate and somehow interact with the narrative. We first saw the term used in this way by M.I.T. professor Henry Jenkins in his book Convergence Culture, published in 2006.  In today’s interconnected world, young adults, teens and even kids have become so comfortable with media technology that they flow from one platform to the next. The problem is that their content is not flowing with them. As a discipline, transmedia provides us with a foundation for the development, production and rollout of entertainment properties or consumer brands across multiple media platforms. …

Transmedia creates the flow. Instead of repeating the plots over and over again for each medium,
creators can continue and expanded their storylines, generating dazzling mythologies and complex

Forbes:  Companies have been talking about embedding products and messages into entertainment for years.  How do you distinguish transmedia from branded entertainment?
Gomez: I think it’s important to point out that transmedia storytelling is not branded entertainment. Branded entertainment drives product awareness by tacking the brand onto something else, like product placement in a TV show. On the other hand, transmedia builds brand mythology, placing the brand front and center and building narrative around it. Think of the various tie-ins we saw around The Matrix franchise several years ago. Branded entertainment comes and goes in a flash, but transmedia storylines are timeless because they are built on a foundation of classic narrative structure. They’re good stories. Finally, the owner of the brand pays for branded content, but transmedia entertainment is designed to generate revenue because, ideally, it’s content that the audience wants and will buy. You’re giving fans more of what they want from your story: more character background, more story mythology, more opportunities to interact with the story’s creators and with one another. When people hear that Samuel L. Jackson will be playing Nick Fury in the next nine Marvel super hero movies, it helps tie that whole universe together. It’s a richer and deeper entertainment experience for the fan.  The storylines of major films like The Dark Knight, Wolverine and Watchmen are being supplemented by direct-to-DVD animation releases, each of which are selling quite well. The Watchmen videogame serves as a prequel to the movie and contains important story developments that fans want to know about. New stories set in the same world are alluring, as opposed to repurposed content, so the products
become more attractive and, in many cases, more lucrative.
Forbes:  Transmedia is often used to promote TV shows and movies, entertainment properties that already have a story built into them, but how does it work for marketers?
Gomez:   Procter & Gamble (nyse: PG – news – people) has used transmedia to extend the narrative of a soap opera, which is an ad vehicle for the company. In 2007, the packaged-goods giant commissioned Guiding Light: Jonathan’s Story, a novel published by Simon & Schuster that revealed the adventures of a major character that had been mysteriously absent from the daytime drama. The book, hyped in ads on the soap and in a blog bylined by one of the novel’s protagonists, was a media sensation and became a New York Times best-seller. We’re also seeing transmedia elements in the marketing of consumer products and advertising. With “The King” campaign from Burger King (nyse: BKC – news – people), for example, audiences have been engaged with this bizarre character, watching the commercials, purchasing and playing the videogames. In 2002, my company Starlight Runner was tasked to create a storyline around 35 die-cast metal Hot Wheels cars for Mattel (nyse: MAT – news – people) for the line’s 35th anniversary.  We worked with the company to understand the essence of the brand and watched how kids played with the toys.  Then we invented an elaborate racing universe and driver characters that, over the next three years, came to life in five computer-animated movies, a videogame, a comic book series, new play sets and an elaborate Web site.  Sales across the entire line increased dramatically.