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Escape from Moscow

"Pobeg" logo PR-Technologies and Rambler are launching a new reality show “Escape from Moscow” in March, an experimental voyage in an interactive blog format. The creators call it a “big interactive adventure” whose goal is to send five young people on a five-week trip in South-East Asia, from India to New Guinea, letting them realize their dream.

All of their adventures, the adventure route and tasks assigned by Rambler.ru audience will be blogged collectively, with the inclusion of online photos and videos. It will be possible to communicate with the participants by commenting blog entries.

PR-technologies is offering ad and product placement in the project. Sony Ericsson has already agreed to advertise Cybershot cameraphones in the “Escape from Moscow”. “The level of interest in an interactive show is comparable with that of television, but participation is much cheaper. In addition, internet audience corresponds with that of cameraphone users,” says Sony Ericsson marketing manager Viktoria German, as quoted by Vedomosti newspaper.

Gleb Sakhrai, PR-Technologies General Director, has told Mediarevolution.ru about the project details.

Gleи Sahray, PR-Technologies -How long did you need to develop the project? How did advertisers respond to it at first? Is it enough to have an idea alone, or a complete product, together with statistics needed to make necessary calculations?

-The idea for this project was born about 4 months ago, in our department 4Experience, which develops innovative online projects, or what we call “viral content”. Not viral marketing, which is so popular nowadays, but content. What we do at 4Experience is develop campaigns which attract and INVOLVE the target audience with a viral spread of content as a result.

We figured out that only a handful of brands are ready to fully use the internet as a media channel. Others are not ready because nobody has made a serious offer. Once we realized that we understand the needs of the target audience, brands, and the media, we decided to produce a project that is interesting to all three. We understood relatively clearly that brands and media strive toward innovation, whether using internet video, deep content integration, weblogs or social networks, and so forth. We made a serious analysis of the audience interests and concluded that there is an empty niche in the sphere of independent travel, downshifiting, Asian countries, etc. That’s how the idea formed – we developed a project plan, a model of audience attraction (to make sure the audience is large), made an agreement with media partners, and shared the idea with the agency’s clients. They reacted very positively, and we made the final decision to launch “Escape from Moscow.” Our calculations are based on breadth of audience – it will number several million people, in part because Rambler will advertise the project to its audience.

-Who else supports your project besides informational sponsors Rambler and Sony Ericsson?

-Rambler is our main media partner, it will guarantee high rate of hits. Rambler is interested in fresh content for its audience for attracting new users. “Escape” will also be supported by “Afisha” magazine, Livejournal, and “Nashe Radio”. Sony Ericsson is our commercial partner. In this project we integrate the brand with a new telephone model into the content. The adventurers will use it to take pictures, communicate with family, and engage in other activities. We are also waiting for several other companies to become our partners in this project, including one of the top three mobile operators.

-In the “To take along” section of your website there is a link to ‘telephone’ and yet no links to ‘photo camera’, ‘video camera’, and ‘shoes’. Does this mean that you are waiting for such sponsors? What are other categories of sponsors besides garments and technical equipment? Insurance, transportation, housing? Is there a complete list?

-What you see on pobeg.rambler.ru at this moment is an casting announcement. The website of the project itself is currently under construction, it is being developed by Deluxe Interactive studio, the same guys that are making websites for Miller brand. When it comes to sponsors, we have a clear understanding of brand categories which are most applicable to “Escape”. They are not only cameras and shoes, but also financial services, such as bank cards, insurance, air travel, personal hygiene products, notebooks, mobile communication, etc.

-What to the sponsors get besides product placement per se? Advertisement in videos, modular website advertisement, or narrative product incerts?

-First of all, the project partners (I dislike the word ‘sponsors’) will get a large audience: 3 million young well-off and active people. Secondly, the partners will effect their company image by participating in a truly innovative project. Concerning integration, there are several ways that the brand can be part of the project. On the one hand, brands in this project will not be irritating, and on the other hand their partnership with “Escape” will be more effective than TV series product placement. The internet is a more interactive medium, for example, viewers will be able to click on an image of a deodorant to find out more about the product when they see it in the “To take along” section. In addition, there will be product placement in the series, mention of products in the blogs, and branded quests. The possibilities are endless for integrating brands into content, and we try to offer all of the advertisers an individual solution.

-Will it be possible for the sponsors to participate in the adventure by offering sudden aid, or creating tasks?

-Of course. However, just as any project creators, we prefer that this ‘participation’ is organic and will not be seen as an intrusion. Even though this is a commercial project, we respect our audience, we work for it and cherish it.

-How is this project being measured – audience size in all of its formats, effect on brand recognition, etc?

-There will be top brands participating, which are very active in direct advertisement, PR, BTL and other instruments, so it will be difficult to pinpoint the effect of the project. However, we will be measuring internet audience, click-throughs to websites and pages of the advertised brands, and so forth. We will also be monitoring reactions in the blogosphere.

-Are there similar projects in other countres? How did they find media sponsors?

-Branded content industry is already developed in the west. “Escape from Moscow” is our idea by 100%, even though the realization methods are used in Europe and the US. Moreover, the more progressive agency top managers are convinced that such projects will be more widespread in the future. Our team and our partners agree, otherwise the project would have never happened.

-What is the project’s budget?

-I cannot disclose that information.

-Besides the internet, what other media will cover the project?

-We decided to support it in the radio, since we are using blogging ideology of daily updates of what’s happening with the heroes. Radio format is perfect for that concept. But still, the internet will be the center of our project, since it supports video, photo, and text content. In addition, the audience will be able to affect the participants’ travels by advising itineraries, etc.

-How closely will the project be filmed, where will the videos be edited, what range of them will be available, and how quickly?

-Cameras will not be filming constantly, since this is not a TV reality show. We decided that blog-format will be more applicable for the web. But, unlike amateur travel blogs (some of which are very interesting), we will provide more content formats.

Download a powerpoint presentation of “Escape from Moscow” (2.3 MB .pps file)

18.03.2008

English version