December 19, 2011

Hippo: Wild Feast Live – Insane engagement and a world first


In late October we launched a fantastic project from Tigress Productions, Endemol and Rubber Republic for Channel 4. Tigress had created a great show in 2010 called “Life After Death”. The idea was to film a carcass on the plains of Africa, find out who came and had a chomp, and follow the food chain to understand the “Circle of Life”. Kind of like the core concept of The Lion King only with more maggots.

(In case you wondered what that would look like, I’ve visualised it here):

Maggot King image

The 2010 show featured this incredible clip which got a decent amount of traffic of its own accord, and while the show was live, twitter lit up with people fascinated by the fairly blunt view of nature at work – rather different than the more edited approach they are used to seeing in more traditional nature programmes.

Click here to view (but not if you’re eating) >>

This organic interest in the first show meant it was an obvious choice for going all “crossplatform” in 2011, so we collaborated with Tigress and Endemol to create an online version of the project; Hippo: Wild Feast LIVE.

Viewers could watch a live stream of the show 24 hours a day (well as it turned out, about 22 hours a day, as the heat between 10am and 12 on the African plains topped 50 degrees C and repeatedly melted some of the kit). A live dashboard kept viewers up to date with temperature and other conditions on the ground, and live updating infographics showed them the percentage of the carcass being devoured by different types of wildlife each day.

Interaction was handled on Twitter allowing viewers to talk directly to the expert members of the shoot team in real time and ask them questions about what they were seeing. A daily diary was posted showing experiments in progress and edited highlight videos were posted to the site and Facebook.

Taking storytelling into new spaces like this by blending traditional techniques and social innovations is an exciting evolution of the work we’ve been doing for Paramount Films and the BBC for the past 3 years.

The biggest thumbs up for this project came from the dwell time. The site had dwell times of 19 minutes 04 seconds (which is all the more impressive given there was a time out on the tracking at 15 minutes which ruled out anyone who loaded the site, then left it untouched in a window for more than 15 minutes). Visitors were not only coming, but staying directly engaged for what in web terms is longer than some newfangled pop stars careers.

The only downside of this project is that it was live, so…rather than show you the mildly broken stony cold lifeless remains of the website, abandoned like a hunk of dead internet thing, here’s a picture of it in its prime: