'Big C' Turns Virtual World Upside Down

A cancer diagnosis turns a person's world upside down. Showtime temporarily turned Web page viewing upside down, with a digital campaign promoting its new show, "The Big C."

The series, which premiered Aug. 16, stars Laura Linney as a teacher recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Visitors to New York magazine and the New York Post's Page Six Web sites on Aug. 9 and Aug. 16 witnessed copy flipped upside down for a few seconds.

While copy is upside down, an ad depicting sand running through an hourglass states: "When everything is upside down." A hand then comes onscreen, flips the hourglass and correctly positions Web site copy

The Visionaire Group created the campaign, OMD handled the media buy and PointRoll provided the technology to invert copy, a feat much harder than inverting tweets.

"The campaign objective was to grab the attention of the site visitor by using a never-been-done experience through the Web site,"  said Catherine Spurway, vice president, strategy & marketing, at PointRoll. "The Visionaire Group took the hourglass from the key art and thought flipping it would serve as a strong metaphor for the lead character whose life has been turned upside down with the news that she has cancer -- and also, perhaps through the flip, that she's taking control and gaining more time."

PointRoll created a custom application that captured a site screenshot every 20 minutes throughout the day. This was integrated with Visionaire's Flash files, meaning creative changed as the site changed. The campaign took three months to create and execute. and were the only sites that accepted the full ad execution that inverted copy.

"Other sites were interested in modified versions, based on feedback from editorial teams, but we felt the execution would only work if done in full  -- and as a result, we were selective," said Spurway.

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