If you are anything like me and my wife, then this summer has been a crushing disappointment when it comes to weekend film options. The latest JJ Abrams "Star Trek" sequel was about the only obliquely exciting roller coaster ride so far. "Man of Steel"? Meh! "Pacific Rim"? We'll go see it if we have to.
But here is an alternative. How about a big-data blockbuster? Come with us now to Datalandia. A town's crisis of disappearing cows and self-esteem-busting outbreaks of six pack abs, led local law enforcement to bring in big-data guns to track the source of the problem. By cross-referencing power usage against werewolves in online chat rooms they were able to locate covens of vampires. Networks of connected hospitals were able to locate and amass excess plasma (see where this is going?). The plan was to lure vampires into the local Datalandia soccer stadium, where a preprogrammed surge of power to the stadium lights would compel the vampires to relocate to another town.
“The small town saved by big data” of Datalandia is a summer Web project from GE, which has been on a a campaign this past year to leverage innovative digital platforms for clever branding. This series rolled out a trailer and first episode. Five more short (90 seconds or so) videos are planed for the summer season. It is wrapped in a mock film promotion site that boasts a cast including Jet Engine Maintenance Crews, Sexy Vampires and Doomed Rom-com Sweethearts.
The effort is in support of the “Brilliant Machines” branding initiative GE is running across all media. It underscores how much of GE’s big hardware, from jet engines to MRIs, cast off data that interconnects with other machines and analytics. “We call them brilliant machines that through the industrial Internet will be more efficient and create new ways of helping people via connectivity,” says Paul Marcum, director, global digital marketing & programming, GE.
Through animated miniatures and a clever online mock blockbuster motif, the idea is to bring the concept of big data down to practical size, Marcum says. “Very few people are out there trying to express how it works and take us down another layer in terms of what big data really means, what kinds of practical solutions are possible.” This town of sexy vampires is one way of doing that.
The videos were shot in Germany at the Miniature Wonderland, a model railway attraction that includes almost 40,000 feet of track at HO scale. The creative agency Mekanism crafted the campaign. The site includes downloadable movie posters and it is being distributed across all of the social channels. GE has been one of the most adventurous brands in developing programs for mobile media like Instagram and Vine, where it continues to have some of the most creative branded executions. In fact, Marcum will be keynoting one of the days at the upcoming Mobile Insider Summit to discuss the brand’s use of social mobile platforms.
Look for upcoming mini-films featuring big data in a starring role in “Rom-Com on a Runaway Train” and “Invasion of the Cattle Snatchers.”
Part of the charm of this series is its maintaining throughout the mock-blockbuster tone. “My only regret,” says Marcum, “is that we didn’t get ‘Sharknado’ in there.”