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A project like Avatar was possible only due to cloud computing: Mark Bresseel, Microsoft Advertising

20-April-2010
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A project like Avatar was possible only due to cloud computing: Mark Bresseel, Microsoft Advertising

Mark Bresseel, Vice President, Global Agencies, Microsoft Advertising, was amongst the few who had made it to the Festival of Media 2010 and Bresseel was excited about it. He began his address on that very note, saying: “I am very happy not just because I made it here, but because the moderator just mentioned cloud computing. I remember when I was speaking at a session a few years back on a similar subject, and there was one person in the audience. I decided to behave the professional that I am, and I delivered the address nonetheless. When I was ready to leave at the end of it, the guy told me, can you stay another 30 minutes because I am the next speaker. From that to this full hall, we have come a long way.”

Bresseel wasn’t amongst those who wanted to mask anything. He also said, “Resetting an industry in transformation is more or less becoming the subject in every other conference now, which is fine, but the unfortunate part is that there are many who talk the talk, but don’t walk the talk. Technology has changed the way consumers live and have changed the way we communicate, but even today most of the companies are not willing to accept that for a fact, or do anything about it.”

He also observed that ‘partnership’ was fast becoming one of the most over-utilised words. And he added, “But that is a word of huge value. Pioneers and innovators, essentially partners, are the only way that we can seek to move forward in this new world. Strategy is to know where you are going, but leadership is very important to get there, and only the power of change hence, rests in the hands of the right people, who are letting that change happen.”

This was where Bresseel played a video of Fox’s Digital Head Bettina Sherick, who spoke on the James Cameron movie ‘Avatar’ experience and what the company was thinking prior to making the movie. Sherick said in the video that from the word go, it was about ‘go game or go home’, and that Fox realised that this was a project that needed the right partners, which was where a company like Microsoft came into play.

The ‘Avatar’ Experience and Cloud Computing

Much like it was for the makers of the movie, for Microsoft, too, the making of ‘Avatar’ was a unique experience, and a challenge that the company looked forward to. Bresseel informed that half the movie was created in data, which meant tonnes of data and the need for a strong digital asset management system. Gaia was the answer to that. Gaia became the digital hub for the entire movie’s assets. Ubisoft used the same assets for XBox, and these assets were used for everything that was done online for the movie. It even guided the movie makers with work flow and assigned roles to departments.

He divulged that all of this was possible only due to cloud computing. Cloud computing is an Internet-based computing, where through shared resources, software and information is provided to computers and other devices on-demand, like a public utility. “Cloud services have become very important, and in a world of multiple consumer insight, they are not very different from advertising. It is all about data, consumer insights and touch points,” noted Bresseel.

He then explained more on the marketing campaign of ‘Avatar’ and commented that that, too, was all about brand engagement and visual experience. He stated, “We had a heavy media plan online. The thing to remember here is that when you do rich media homepage takeovers, it is to take the content to where the people are, rather than taking the people to where the content is, by doing these takeover exercises and then spending money in getting people to that page.”

Referring to a remark made by ViVaki’s Jack Klues earlier in the day, Bresseel said, “There is earned media and paid media, and then there is media in between too. There were editors who thought this was a story that consumers were willing to talk about, and ‘Avatar’ saw a lot of editorial support.”

He showed more examples to illustrate how the same philosophy towards content and marketing was localised in various markets. While Microsoft Windows doesn’t do any advertising at present, for the launch of Windows 7, ‘Avatar’ was offered to be one of the launch partners, along with the likes of Coca-Cola and Ferrari. This meant giving the user the option to customise his or her desktop with ‘Avatar’ theme. Bresseel informed, “Since the launch, we’ve had 3.2 million desktops that have been personalised with ‘Avatar’.”

The final part of Bresseel’s address once again took the conversation back to social media, where he stated, “Social media is very powerful – 15 per cent of all tweets today talk about products. So, people are already talking about brands. There still are some brands that say ‘we don't do social’. Well, people ‘do social’ for you, so you better know what they do and what they are saying about you.”

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