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“Pick a Path” interactive story technology

November 2009

Run The Red develop “Pick a Path” interactive story technology TVNZ On Demand – Reservoir Hill

Run The Red, New Zealand’s leader in mobile marketing and solutions has provided TVNZ On Demand with the SMS functionality to drive the new format interactive web drama Reservoir Hill.

This first of its kind in NZ was a story that users of the TVNZ website could actively take part to determine the ending of the current episode.

Simon Elder, Online Editor of TV & Entertainment for TVNZ Digital Media was pleased with this New Zealand first initiative.

“Reservoir Hill folds the audience into the storytelling process like no other New Zealand drama before it. The ability to influence events in Reservoir Hill by texting Beth, the central character and giving her advice, has resonated brilliantly with TVNZ On Demand users. We’re delighted with the show’s performance,” says Elder.

The first episode had a fantastic response. Thousands watched the drama in the first few hours, resulting in several hundred viewers communicating with the show via text messaging. TVNZ On Demand screens a new episode of the dark and edgy drama every Monday afternoon, which is viewed exclusively through the web at www.tvnz.co.nz/reservoirhill .

Ben Northrop, Run The Red CEO, says the Run The Red team are thrilled to be involved with the innovative new drama.

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“It’s a fantastic project that we’re really excited about. We’ve wanted to involve mobile with TV for years now, and the KHF Media guys have come up with a great concept. Allowing viewers to interact with a character at the end of each episode is completely new, and an exciting preview into how mobile and TV can work together.”

With Reservoir Hill, each text from a viewer could actually help determine the direction for the next episode. Viewers have from Monday to Wednesday each week to watch the latest episode and text their message at the end of the show. Amazingly the text from the viewer appears in a bonus scene and the viewer can see Beth read their message on her phone. The production team then analyse the audience feedback, before going into production of the new episode each week.

KHF Media were behind the filming of the project, and Media Director David Stubbs, says ‘This mixture of drama and SMS technology is really innovative and Run the Red were a great

partner in developing this quite unique application. It’s all crafted in a way that integrates our story and video postproduction process with a twist on Run the Red’s technology. It’s a special and really effective mix that means our audience really do become part of the show.’

Jono Tucker, Run The Red Account Manager, says that this sort of user engagement takes TV drama to a whole new level. Viewers that take the time to text Beth are rewarded with the special bonus scene at the end of the episode. People don’t know what to expect the first
time they send a message to Beth and the reaction from seeing their message appear on screen as part of the show makes it worthwhile.‘

The drama follows Beth Connolly, a teen who moves to a new suburb after her parents separate. The show explores issues faced by teens, and the tech-savvy ‘Twilight generation’ are able to communicate with Beth. Cleverly combining several types of media - TV drama, SMS and the Internet, it effectively creates a modern day “Pick-a-Path”.

Run The Red have developed the Pick a Path technology using key elements from the award winning ‘Distracted Drivers’ campaign, which they partnered with ad agency Clemenger BBDO, for Land Transport New Zealand. This massively successful campaign encouraged users to visit a website, and send a text to an on screen driver. The driver responded, sending a text back to the user, with devastating consequences.

About KHF Media
KHF Media is collaboration between Wellington Producer/Directors David Stubbs and Thomas Robins.

About Run The Red
Run The Red is a digital mobile marketing company active in New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and the USA. Since 1999, Run The Red has been developing award-wining campaigns, successfully executing campaigns for leading brands including BP, Vodafone, Disney, SKY, Telecom, Kiwibank, Lion Nathan, MySpace, Facebook and Optus.

Run The Red brew technology, creativity and big ideas to help create extraordinary mobile marketing campaigns for clients who want to achieve big things for their brands. Making those things happen - mobile ideas that attract, connect, involve and engage.
Ideas that live where creativity and measurability converge.


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