September 18th

Leo Burnett and Contagious Presented Wildfire Stories to A Full House @ Spikes Asia

Wildfire attracted a full house for its debut at the inaugural Asian Advertising Festival, Spikes Asia 2009.  Again themed “Wildfire Stories: Pass it On”, the seminar unveiled the secrets behind the art of story-telling and scrutinized some of the most enticing brand stories from Asia and around the world. Close to 700 brightest minds in the advertising and branding community and enthusiastic audiences were engaged in an interactive twist at Wildfire to vote via text messages on the Asian brand with the best story ever, and the ultimate winner, was UNIQLO.

“UNIQLO has the best brand story as it has created a highly integrated network of communication channels, blending both digital and offline tactfully, to engage with the consumers for maximum impact.“ Paul Kemp-Robertson, Editorial Director and Co-founder for Contagious said.

Presenting alongside Kemp-Robertson were Mark Tutssel, Chief Creative Officer for Leo Burnett Worldwide and Jarek Ziebinski, President for Leo Burnett & Arc Asia Pacific. The guys looked at the historic creative connections between storytelling and advertising, examined the seven basic story formats in advertising despite the myriad forms of media and technologies evolved over the years, and showcased compelling brand narratives including well familiar names in the region like Petronas, Sagami, UNIQLO, as well as global brands like Amazon, Johnnie Walker, Kraft, Philips, Red Bull, Sony and Times, just to name a few.

“Many brands in the digital age simply chase after technology rather than ideas, yet it is the idea – the art of storytelling - that matters. The fascinating works shown today at Wildfire best demonstrate how brands with powerful stories are truly connected with people and have played an important role in people’s life. The art of storytelling is alive forever while how we tell the story may change,” remarked Mark Tutssel, Chief Creative Officer for Leo Burnett Worldwide.

“‘Storytelling is no longer linear’ is the key point of today’s seminar. Stories may start anywhere, by anyone, via any channels. Understanding this very nature of storytelling in the digital age is highly important to the Asia Pacific region, not only because more and more Asian brands are now competing on the global stage, but also because the cultural diversity of the region has made storytelling even more challenging but interesting,“ Jarek Ziebinski, President for Leo Burnett & Arc Asia Pacific added.

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September 1st

Technology and Narrative

This week over in NYC, hipster toy and clothing brand Kidrobot teamed up with Weareplus to run a treasure hunt coordinated through the use of QR codes to promote the launch of its 2009 ‘Dunny’ collection, designed by a collective of artists including SupaKitch, Travis Cain and Kozik. Posters invited players to download the necessary QR reader and then take pictures of the codes hidden throughout the city, and also online.

Those playing are rewarded with virtual Dunnys, pixellated versions of the toys themselves, and the winner scoops a complete set of all the toys. The game will run for five days from Monday August 31st.

Over in the Far East, the use of QR codes in everything from marketing to retail and gaming is so pervasive as to be a non-event. However, by Western standards, the pairing of a young brand boasting considerable creative caché with this kind of mobile experience is well targeted. We’ll be doing some digging on the number of active players over the next few days. Stay tuned.

As an afterthought - lest we forget, the humble mobile barcode is evolving quickly. Marc Jacobs’ gorgeous designs for Louis Vuitton through Set Japan, Tokyo, were just the beginning.

With MIT’s Bokodes and Microsoft’s High Colour Capacity Barcodes (HCCB) both allowing for the cramming of masses more information into much tinier spaces, every item or poster bearing a code will now be able to tell a more complex and engaging back story, and every product will come complete with its own digital storyline.

Product designers and front-line marketers of the world unite! The art of narrative just got interesting….

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August 17th

A picture…

…is worth a thousand words. Corbis is asking celebrities and the public alike to tell the stories behind famous photographs, and the moments they represent.

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August 13th

Henry Jenkins / Transmedia Storytelling

Attention all agencies - your brightest future hires will be graduates of media guru Henry Jenkins’ new course in ‘transmedia storytelling’, starting at the University of California this autumn. Details and syllabus here:

Apologies for the length of the quote, but we think Jenkins tells his own story better than we could:

"We now live at a moment where every story, image, brand, relationship plays itself out across the maximum number of media platforms, shaped top down by decisions made in corporate boardrooms and bottom up by decisions made in teenager’s bedrooms. The concentrated ownership of media conglomerates increases the desirability of properties that can exploit "synergies" between different parts of the medium system and "maximize touch-points" with different niches of consumers. The result has been the push towards franchise-building in general and transmedia entertainment in particular.

"A transmedia story represents the integration of entertainment experiences across a range of different media platforms. A story like Heroes or Lost might spread from television into comics, the web, computer or alternate reality games, toys and other commodities, and so forth, picking up new consumers as it goes and allowing the most dedicated fans to drill deeper. The fans, in turn, may translate their interests in the franchise into concordances and wikipedia entries, fan fiction, vids, fan films, cosplay, game mods, and a range of other participatory practices that further extend the story world in new directions. Both the commercial and grassroots expansion of narrative universes contribute to a new mode of storytelling, one which is based on an encyclopedic expanse of information which gets put together differently by each individual consumer as well as processed collectively by social networks and online knowledge communities."

By now, this approach should sound familiar to anyone looking to hold their own in 21st Century marketing.

We’re hoping some materials turn up on iTunes U…

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August 7th

Extraordinary storytelling - John Hughes

This link’s been doing the rounds today, but Alison Byrne Fields blog post on her penpal relationship with the recently deceased director John Hughes proved a story within a story - a human face to a director known for films as successful as The Breakfast Club and Home Alone.

Whatever you think about Hughes’ film-making, this one’s a heart-wrencher. RIP Mr Hughes.

"Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller, 1985.

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August 6th

Wildfire @ Spikes

Yep, we’re doing it again! this time it’ll be happening at the Spikes in Asia, on Thursday 17th September at 4-4.45pm. Those of you coming to the festival in Singapore, put it in your diaries now!

For background:

Wildfire, the phenomenally successful seminar conceived by Leo Burnett in conjunction with Contagious, is now into its fourth year. This year, the theme is ‘Wildfire Stories’. We’ll be looking at the historic creative connections between storytelling and advertising and will be showcasing some of the most compelling branded stories from the Asian region and around the world. And – exclusively for Spikes – Wildfire will conclude with a special election to determine which Asian brand has the best brand story.

The advertising industry has always excelled in the creation of stories with which to promote our brands. Now, as digital technology allows for the creation of ever more immersive narratives, the art of storytelling is no longer linear. The Wildfire seminar will be looking at campaigns with a strong talkability factor to faster spread the word: branding strategies that incorporate user-generated or community elements, encouraging people to take on the next chapter; the alternate reality games and fragmented narratives that draw in millions of players; the heart-warming collaborations; and the myriad ways in which people utilise new technologies to communicate their own personal stories, day in, day out.

With more Asian brands than ever competing strongly on a global stage, communicating brand stories whilst remaining true to local roots is more important than ever.

Wildfire Stories: Pass it On.

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June 24th

Apple pips the competition to the post!

Thanks to everyone who voted for their favourite brand story - over 300 votes were cast altogether - but Apple stormed into the lead.

The seminar might be over, but we’ll be posting more content in the coming week, so keep your eyes peeled!

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June 23rd

One more day to go!

We’ve rehearsed thoroughly, and the presenters are gargling with honey and doing voice exercises in preparation. We’re going to be breaking down some successful advertising campaigns according to the ‘seven types of narrative’. These are: Comedy Tragedy Overcoming the monster Voyage and return The Quest Rags to Riches Rebirth Any ideas which ones we may have chosen for each section? To find out, come here: Wednesday, 24th June 16:00-16:45 Debussy Theater Palais des Festivals, Cannes As always, we recommend you get there early to avoid disappointment.

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June 22nd

Two more days to go!

The Contagious and Leo Burnett teams are in Cannes as we speak, limbering up and studiously avoiding the rose in preparation for this year’s blockbuster wildfire seminar.

In case we hadn’t rammed it far enough down your throats, here are the details:

Wednesday, 24th June
Debussy Theater
Palais des Festivals, Cannes

We’ll be looking at campaigns with a strong talkability factor to faster spread the word. Branding strategies that incorporate user-generated or community elements, encouraging people to take on the next chapter. The alternate reality games and fragmented narratives that draw in millions of players. The PR disasters. The heart-warming collaborations. And the myriad ways in which people utilize new technologies to communicate their own personal stories, day in, day out.

As part of this seminar, we’ll not only be bringing you our usual showcase of all the most innovative and intriguing creative work from around the world. This year, the Leo Burnett and Contagious teams will be inviting you, the audience, to help us tell your story. There’ll be plenty of interactivity, and some surprises along the way. Even we don’t know what’s going to happen next.

As always, we recommend you get there early to avoid disappointment.

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June 10th

Branded Storytelling

Which brand has the best story?

For our Wildfire seminar at Cannes in a couple of weeks, we’re going to be debating what makes some brands’ stories more meaningful and memorable than others. In order to be slightly more scientific about the way in which we compile a shortlist of brands with the best stories, we’d like you guys to chip in.

Some Contagious favourites:

Harley Davidson - Born to be Wild since 1901

Guinness - Enjoyable procrastination from the Emerald Isle

Apple - prodigal son returns, steers company to design immortality

Coca-Cola – the American Dream in a Bottle

MINI – “Talking ‘Bout My Generation”

What other ones can you think of? Are there any you’d like to see mentioned? Either get in touch on Twitter (, or add your thoughts in the comments of our Tumblr.

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