Motricity mCore Campaign Manager Powers Criss Angel Building Implosion Well Wishes Text In | Mobile Marketing Association
January 29, 2009

Brand: A&E TV’s Mind Freak Criss Angel
Vendors: Motricity
Region: United States

Overview
A&E Television Networks prides itself on award-winning programming, a leader in offering quality entertainment. Among a strong slate of diverse programming, Criss Angel Mindfreak has emerged as one of A&E’s most popular shows. A consummate performer and mystifyer, Criss Angel has continued to set the bar increasingly higher with his demonstrations and is always looking for “the next big thing.” This year, Criss proposed his biggest and baddest demonstration yet - an amazing escape from a multi-story building just moments before it imploded into rubble and dust - all on LIVE broadcast television.

On July 30, 2008, A&E did just that. Criss Angel was chained to the 6th floor balcony of the history Spyglass Resort Hotel in Clearwater, Florida. He had four minutes to attempt to escape his shackles, make it through several locked doors to the roof of the building and escape via a waiting helicopter, before 400 sticks of dynamite brought the hotel crashing to the ground.

Requirement
A&E’s challenge was to create a powerful multi-platform campaign that would capitalize on the excitement and immediacy of a live broadcast television event - adding mobile into the mix was the perfect way to do just that.

A&E’s objectives were as follows:

  • Create a true multi-platform experience for fans - make them participants, not just viewers
  • Attract key younger demos to and engage them with the A&E brand
  • Enrich the experience - create much more than a “flat” television show
  • Drive connection to the fan base - foster a spirit of connectivity to the show and to A&E as a brand
  • Create opportunity to demonstrate that A&E is mobile - “we’re wherever you are”
  • Leverage the immediacy of mobile within a live broadcast television environment

A&E visualized a ground-breaking, simultaneous multi-platform event that would offer an unprecedented level of connectivity. A&E overwhelmingly achieved these objectives through a suite of compelling mobile and digital offerings which engaged our viewer base on multiple fronts:

  • Live broadcast television show
  • Live mobile television broadcast
  • Live SMS text-in
  • Live SMS “blog” subscription – breaking alerts from the live broadcast
  • Live Webcast

Solution
Creating a compelling multi-platform event around a live broadcast television program was a tremendous challenge. Any live event injects a host of variables into the equation, opening the door for a multitude of execution errors, and this event, in particular, posed some unique challenges. The largest challenge was 400 sticks of dynamite and the implosion of a large multi-story building. Would the detonation timers be accurate? Would the debris field be contained, or would the dust cloud move towards us and obscure everything? The outdoor location on Florida’s gulf coast meant hurricane activity was a real possibility. Criss Angel’s large and devoted fan base increased the chances of spectators showing up on the implosion site - but how many? Could A&E control them? These issues, along with the usual anxiety surrounding a live event, presented a daunting challenge indeed.

Through planning and organization - as well as a little cooperation from Mother Nature and the Clearwater, Florida police force - the execution of the event was flawless. A&E was able to successfully offer a carefully orchestrated multi-platform event to their viewing audience. The mobile efforts were the show’s centerpiece, adding an unprecedented dimension of connectivity that Angel fans LOVED.

The live national broadcast television event aired from 10:00 PM - 11:00PM, EST on A&E.

  • An exclusive mobile television event was offered. The mobile broadcast was a unique content offering, not simply an additional broadcast of the national television signal. The mobile TV broadcast featured a different host, different camera angles and different interviews, including an exclusive interview with Criss Angel post-escape - only mobile TV and webcast viewers had access to the interview with Criss. The mobile TV broadcast was longer as well, running from 9:00PM EST to 12:00AM EST.
  • A text-in allowed fans to text their comments and words of encouragement directly to Criss. All texts were processed real-time to capitalize on the immediacy of the event and were displayed on AETV.com. This was a highly successful way to drive traffic from mobile to AETV.com.
  • Fans not able to watch the event or access content via the internet were offered a unique SMS “blog” subscription. Fans were able to subscribe to receive regular SMS updates to their mobile device; these updates were real time and recounted details of the escape attempt as it was happening.
  • AETV.com featured a compelling mini-site dedicated to the event. The main page of the site elegantly centralized a webcast viewing window, an area where all incoming SMS comments were displayed as well as blog updates - an exciting, continuously updated consolidation of web, TV and mobile content in a single location.

Results
The compelling aspect of this campaign was its use of mobile to pull together a suite of digital content offerings in a manner that rounded out the experience for the consumer. Each consumer touch point was additive, unique and compelling and they worked in harmony - not one point of engagement took anything away from the others. While the technology used to execute the program was not highly original, the technology was used creatively - it was utilized in a manner that offered magic, not frustration, to the end user. Fans could send in their texts and see them instantly on the screen. They could watch the show on their commute home, then pick up where the left off as soon as they walked in the door. They were connected and engaged - the broadcast became personal and directed specifically to them. They could watch where and when they wanted, and speak directly to the talent.

The results of A&E’s efforts were astounding - it greatly exceeded their expectations on every level.

  • 1400% increase in SMS traffic received to our shortcode in a single day
  • 2900% increase in our mobile TV broadcast base
  • 55% increase in webcast viewership over previous webcast events
  • An astounding 15,000 fans showed up to view the event in person
  • The detonators were accurate. The dust cloud blew away from the crowds and the equipment. Criss Angel survived.