Behind the scenes of Sony’s Handycam campaign site “Cam with me”

We all know that the Japanese love cameras. There are a bunch of manufacturers out there and new products appear on the market every month or so. As you can imagine, a typical Japanese tourist carries a couple of camera products at all times. But Sony, which holds the No. 1 share of the camcorder market in Japan, is far from satisfied with the way people use their camcorders. Most camcorder users only take movies on memorable days such as their kids’ birthdays, school sports festivals, etc. Sony thought up the tagline “Every day is special” as the concept for their 2007 campaign.
Their new promotional web site called “Cam with me” is part of a campaign which is generating huge emotional feedback from internet users.

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The “Cam with me” campaign started as a teaser in December 2008 in Japan and officially opened to the public in January 2009 with huge success and positive blogger feedback. Asiajin’s Yasuyuki Matsushita talked with Keiichi Motoyama, Interactive Planner at the Hakuhodo ad agency, Yohei Iwaki, Art Director and creator of the website, and Kaoru Chono, the producer, (the latter two are from a new company called 602 inc) to find out what happened behind the scenes of “Cam with me”.
Yasuyuki: Can you tell me the concept of this website ?
Motoyama: “Cam with me” comes as a result of our effort to render the “Every day is special” tagline in a very emotional way, rather than only literally. We chose the Internet because it can now be both a personal and interactive medium. Because of its interactivity, our content can touch viewers’ hearts and they eventually feel this could be their own experience. The content starts with a baby girl growing and playing, from kindergarten to elementary school, then from a teenager to a beautiful young lady. Finally, she gets married, leaves home and then comes back with her baby for the holidays. This is constructed in a very emotional way.
Iwaki: I was in charge of these scenes, and all of the design details and interaction. All of the scenes were done with input from a movie director.
Yasuyuki: What was the most important part in its creation ?
Motoyama: I wanted it to be as emotional as it could, like those “We all shed tears” types of movies. 🙂 We did a study of these types of movies for context, tone and manner. Another point was this should be as simple as possible to use.
Iwaki: The story is pretty simple. The movies start with a cute baby girl playing, growing to schoolgirl age, starting to work, falling in love and getting married, and taking her baby back home to see her grandparents. You can actually choose your favorite moments in the early part of the movies but you cannot do this once she becomes a bride and leaves home. Which is a metaphor for real life — you can’t control your daughter once she becomes a woman. These scenes were very carefully created by our team.
Chono: We can’t say the exact number of actresses who auditioned but we did have huge a number of auditions based on actress profiles. We had 11 actresses in these movies. The phrase “Cam with me” just popped into Iwaki’s head at the meeting. We needed a word that sounded like Handycam and which was easy to pronounce.
Yasuyuki: The site can be embedded as a widget in blogs which is quite unique. Why did you choose to do that?
Motoyama: Yes. Typical promotional sites only deliver the results of what you created, but our embeddable widget is a window into the whole experience. You can embed the entire site as a blog widget. This enables viewers to have exactly the same experience as on our campaign site. So the viewers feel that the site is interactive and is created by themselves. We wanted this to be the “Most emotional movie ever!!” type of content, just like a movie advertisement. This should happen by “word of mouth” on the net.
Iwaki: Another point is the sound and music. It is best not to play it with the mute setting on. 🙂
Yasuyuki: How about feedback ?
Motoyama: We had a good amount of feedback from a variety of people. We are happy to see that typical housewives wrote on their blogs that this is very emotional to watch with their husbands. These reactions are not from professionals, but common people who do not pay attention to net promotions, and these are the most valuable voices for us to listen to. Other feedback from international viewers, especially from Korea, was a nice surprise for us. I think the actresses resemble them most.
Iwaki: We also had a good reaction from bloggers which really caused a chain reaction. This is because anyone can create their own series of movies in the blog widget.
Yasuyuki: Have you had any requests for a “Boy” version of the story?
Motoyama: Yes, but the “young woman leaves home, gets married, and comes back to visit” story is a common thread in our society, which is really the backbone of this project. So a “boy” version is a bit difficult. 🙂 We did have this idea in the early stages of the project though.
Iwaki: We had another idea which was a pet version, namely a dog. A girl leaving home and coming back with a baby is kind of a happy ending. But if it was a dog, the ending would be a “final” departure, which would be quite difficult to describe.
Yasuyuki: Oh, I agree. So this will be the last question. What are your overall comments on the project ?
Motoyama: It is good to execute buzz marketing for this campaign but without huge media exposure like TV commercials, it is hard to say gigantic buzz on real world cannot be achieved.
From a creator’s point of view, it is very important to find insight within our viewers. That was a great result for me.
Iwaki: I really want everyone to experience this site. To be honest, it wasn’t close to my heart at the very early stages of the project, but as we created the storyboard, it became dangerously emotional. As an ad creator, I can be very critical about any ad, but this still makes me shed tears.
Chono: This project was a great experience to work on. If there is any chance to make an international version, I’d love to try that.
This interview was done with lots of planning documents along with some laughter and jokes. I think the idea of not pursuing functionality or specs for the camcorder, but rather to create an emotional buzz on the Internet is a new type of marketing experiment. I hope that you were able to feel the emotion behind the scenes.

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