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DGI Faster Forward - Issue 3

TRANSMEDIA STORYTELLING — TREND OR HYPE?

Here it is — one of the latest marketing buzzwords. Transmedia storytelling!

TS utilizes multiple digital channels to deliver a single story. In transmedia storytelling, each channel is used to tell its own part to create a unified and coordinated experience. The story is told through a predestined multi-channel experience—forcing the consumer to engage with each channel in a specified order to experience the entire message or story. Transferring consumers from one channel to another provides a specific call-to-action that must be taken, boosting the ability to capture data on engagement when the next action is taken.

The United States Post Office debuted this app, developed with Aurasma, and is offering a 2% discount on eligible postage from August 1 through September 2013. Eligible mail includes Standard Mail® letters and flats, Nonprofit Standard Mail letters and flats,and First Class Mail® Presort and automation letters, cards and flats.

According to Tukaiz Marketing, unlike some buzzwords, transmedia storytelling is not a replacement, but the next step in how we communicate through a combination of the wide variety of media channels and technologies we have to work with. While the term has been around for quite some time, transmedia storytelling today stems from the need to expand beyond cross-media marketing campaigns that are already leveraging a variety of media channels to create more distinct campaigns with call-to-actions that engage users and provide a level of investment that captures enough interest to encourage them to continue down the designated campaign path once engaged.

Here's a crazy case study by Dr. Pamela Rutledge of the Media Psychology Research Center. If the Three Little Pigs were told as a transmedia story in a film, TV show or novel, it might be designed like this:
  • The big bad wolf has a companion website where we can learn more about him. We would also follow the wolf as he plots and adjusts his plans at each volley by the pigs.
  • On a blog, the first pig details the family history and his paranoid suspicions.
  • The second little pig tweets his chronicle, seeking advice on sustainable building materials.
  • The third little pig has a cooking series shot on location from the Stone House kitchen posted on YouTube and encourages viewers to send in their stories.
The hypothetical transmedia version of the Three Little Pigs is not the repurposing of a story across different platforms. It is the creation of a holistic narrative that unfolds in different and unique manners across different media. It allows for a dialogue between creator and participant.

Developers could decide if participant interaction, such as solving the sustainable materials problem, finding the wolf through clues and maps, or creating another character for the story, could move the story in different directions than the original version. Participants might urge the first little piggy to trust his instincts about the dark figure or create a hunter who steps up the stakes for the wolf and alters the time dimension of the wolf's schemes.

Why use transmedia storytelling for branding, marketing and advocacy campaigns?

Persuasion — fundamental form of communication
Audience connection — create points of entry that reach and link multiple demographics and target user needs
Financial impact — transmedia storytelling redefines ROI, extends brand shelf life and creates value added assets and revenue streams


For more information on Transmedia Storytelling check out these links:

Transmedia Storytelling: Trend or Hype?

Transmedia Storytelling Workshop — Dr. Rutledge

Jane McCauley
Vice President, National Sales
Diversified Graphics, A Bolger Company
jmccauley@dgi.net   800-233-7454