Transmedia Storytelling: Now Leaving on Platforms 2, 7, 10…All Aboard!

It’s a win-win situation – large media conglomerates spreading brand investments and expanding their markets, and audiences excited and engaged by new viewer experiences and innovations. (Moore, 2014).

While you may deny it, it is more than likely that all digitally empowered consumers have, at some point, engaged with a transmedia storytelling franchise. So what exactly is this anyway? There’s no better way to explain than through my very own story:

Insurance company AAMI’s Rhonda and Ketut campaign was a successful transmedia narrative executed across print, TV and online media.

Beyond the opportunities which transmedia storytelling offers for brand extension, transmedia texts leverage the power of collective intelligence to build knowledge communities whereby consumers assume the role of “hunters and gatherers”.

For example, the alternate reality game “Why So Serious?”, launched prior to the release of “The Dark Knight”, attracted 11 million participants from 75 countries. As clues were distributed throughout many cities in America, fans had to rely on collective intelligence to embark on the puzzle-solving quest, with each discovery interconnected with the film. The user-led content creation in the form of blog posts, websites and online communities highlights the way fans, in their insatiable desire for new information, essentially become willing participants for marketers.

Transmedia storytelling also facilitates the rapid flow of images across cultural borders (Moore, 2014) in ways which amplify local voices. This is evident in the success of Japanese anime in the Western world, with its bold visual effects and diverse themes opening consumers to alternative cultural perspectives (Jenkins, 2004). For example, as a young teenager, my friends and I often watched episodes of “Sailor Moon” on YouTube. While we were certainly fans of this foreign cultural product, this by no means made us “pop cosmopolitans” who attain the diversity they crave through special cultural niches (Jenkins, 2004). Instead, we were simply the primary consumers for the exports of Japanese media companies, with the comics, short films, television series and merchandise all forming part of a tight marketing system (Jenkins, 2004).

Transmedia storytelling is an effective tool marketers are using to captivate their audience and invite them to be part of a stronger and more compelling narrative, while also proving to serve a commercial purpose which delivers a competitive point of difference.

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Fans have used Google Maps technology to create the world of ‘Game of Thrones’ and plot the journeys of each character.

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Reference List:

Moore, C. 2014, ‘Transmedia Narratives’, notes from Lecture 7 of Convergent Media Practices at The University of Wollongong.

Jenkins, H., 2004, ‘Pop cosmopolitanism: Mapping cultural flows in an age of media convergence’. In M. Suarez-Orozco & D. Qin-Hilliard, Globalization: Culture and Education in the New Millennium (pp 114- 140). Ewing, NJ: University of California Press.

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