Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Microsoft Home Magazine – Rich Media

I was contracted by iPrimate to develop a Rich Media strategy for Microsoft Home Magazine. Part of the implementation of the strategy is the production of Interactive Video segments for the Microsoft Home Magazine site.

I am fascinated by the potential of alternative broadcasting. The Long Tail of entertainment and service broadcasting is beyond the reach of conventional television broadcasters. Gradually consumers will be able to access programming privately through their computers and cell phones and publicly through digital signage. This programming will be by definition far more targeted and therefore relevant.

What ultimately differentiates alternative broadcasting from conventional television is the relationship between the broadcaster and the consumer. Content on demand can be as simple as clicking a mouse or standing in front of a kiosk. This negotiation for content provides mass to the "Long Tail". This is why the iTunes Music Store and Amazon.com will sell more media than a traditional retail outlet - simply because they have it in stock. This negotiation also defines the development of content. Real time traffic analysis will soon replace television ratings as a determination of what the consumer wants to watch.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Cottage Life Television - 163 episodes (11 seasons)


Cottage Life Television came to me as I was standing waist deep in Lake Simcoe trying to fix a clogged footvalve. It was late October and the water was very cold and I wanted to fix the damn thing as soon as possible. Why not a television show that showed people how to fix their footvalves? Of course there was more to cottage living: family, friends, water sports, land sports and food shared time with the long list of chores. So CLTV was born.

Cottage Life magazine was a year'ish old when I approached them with the idea and the rest is history. CLTV captured life at the cottage one story at a time. Mini-documentaries about interesting people and places in cottage country.

We aired on Global, Baton (CTV), PBS, Life, HGTV and Craig. We always controlled some (if not most) of the advertising and we created some innovative advertising strategies for our sponsors that involved the some or all of the other Cottage Life media.

Through the years we enjoyed partnerships with Ford, Tim-BR Mart, Kraft, Coleman. Nikon, Canadian Tire and a dozen other national advertisers. They helped us afford a show that was at times difficult to produce. If we had produced CLTV according to the traditional television business model the series would never have lasted as long as it did.

Our host was Linda Armstrong who started out as Linda Manjuris until after a few years we decided to get married. Our crew consisted of some of the most qualified (and hearty) soles ever to step foot in a tin boat on a stormy night.

Monday, May 23, 2005

SUMMER'S BEST - 26 episodes


SUMMER'S BEST is a celebration of the ultimate in summer cooking and entertainment. The philosophy driving the show is that with only about a dozen weekends in the summer it’s important to make sure each is the best it can be.

I love to cook (and entertain) and a cottage is without question my favourite place to do it. Where else can you experiment with cooking over an open fire, toss a salad with fresh wild edibles or dine on just caught fish?

SUMMER'S BEST was created for Food Network Canada who wisely recognized the need for a summer barbecue show that wasn't stuck in a backyard. The visual style of the series is casual and spontaneous. The recipes were shot in real time with few interruptions so that the presentation could be as authentic as possible. Our featured cottagers weren't professional chefs in a studio - they were amateur cooks in their own environment.

To compliment the preparation of the food and drink we packaged the recipes with lifestyle vignettes that were cut to Trip Hop, Lounge and Electronica music. The end result was a series that captured the essence of the cottage vibe.

While we had an amazing crew for both seasons of SUMMER'S BEST the real kudos go out to the cottagers who let us invade their cottage life and allowed us to take-up some of their precious downtime.

This is the opening for the show.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Cottage Life + Style - 13 episodes

Cottage Life + Style was developed to showcase the wide variety of design and decor approaches in cottage living.

A successful cottage is a shelter that not only reflects a cottager but that cottager's relationship with their environment. Cottage Life + Style documented thirteen different cottages from a seasonal surf shack to a year-round island cottage run on solar and wind energy.

The series was shot more conservatively than Cottage Life Television. The cameras rarely got off their sticks and a jib-arm contributed to the elegant approach to the photography.

Original music and appropriate graphic elements completed the package.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Kraft Canada - 12 x :30 second commercials

Cottage Life Television included for several seasons a wonderful food segment hosted by Keely Schierl (owner of the Butcher's Daughters a deli/catering store in cottage country). The segment was very popular with our viewers.

We approached Kraft with the idea of sponsoring the segment and designed a strategy where some of their products would be used by Keely in the preparation of the recipes. Broadcaster guidelines (and good taste) prohibited us from excessive brand exposure so a solution was devised where we would produce commercials for Kraft and schedule them within the commercial break immediately following Keely's recipe segment.

The commercials were produced against a cottage country backdrop that was consistent with the environment of the series. A variety of brands participated in the series of commercials and we managed the rotation of the spots to coincide with the content of the episode.

During the production of the spots we shot stills of the prepared recipes for use in companion ads in Cottage Life magazine and for display at Cottage Life's consumer show.

The campaign also included the development and maintenance of a website: Kraft At The Cottage. This site was accessible through cottagelife.com and included the recipes from the series, stills of the finished recipes, video of the preparation and bonus recipes and features.

The campaign was a great success and an early example of online rich media.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Coleman Canada - 3 x :30 second commercials

Coleman asked us to produce several spots promoting their seasonal products. One winter product and two summer products were featured in the commercials that were shot in cottage country.

The spots were produced individually and the turn-around time from production to broadcast was less than two weeks.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Tim-BR Mart - 3 x :15 second commercials

Cottage Life Television included a very popular segment called: Hobby The Handy Cottager. Hobby is a real guy who (like many cottagers) struggles from season to season with a never ending list of mundane chores, renovations and repairs. Tim-BR Mart sponsored Hobby's segment and provided us with access to materials and expertise.

To reinforce the relationship between Hobby's segment and Tim-BR Mart we produced several short commercials starring Hobby. The spots were shot in a local Tim-BR Mart store.