Advertisements: Small Scale Transmedia Storytelling

I think that the concept of transmedia storytelling has become popular among advertisers, who see the potential of an extended and spread out narrative to captivate consumers. While television shows and movies may use video games, books and additional clips to fill in the blanks for viewers and sustain their loyalty to the industry, advertisements lately have been following a similar path. How often do you watch a commercial that has a confusing and unfinished plot in the 30 short seconds that it has to air, but ends with saying to log on to a specific website to continue watching and get the whole story?  The industries are aware that a short commercial spot will probably have little affect on those watching, and are limited in their narrative, so they choose other media outlets to extend it and hopefully capture the attention of those watching.

Orbit does this with their latest commercials that have secret officials of the company going after consumers that may reveal the flavor of their new mystery gum.  The story continues on their website, where fans can not only get more information but also participate and play games revolving around the story. While the Matrix seems to have taken the whole transmedia storytelling a bit too far, and even expanded it beyond its own reach, smaller scale transmedia storytelling seen in advertisements can grab onto consumers and pull them into a story without it getting out of control.  The Orbit narrative goes beyond its limits on air and transcends onto the web.

I think that, when done right, transmedia storytelling can be very successful so long as the producer does not overestimate the loyalties of the consumer in accessing every outlet that builds upon the franchise. When there are too many additional outlets and key parts of the entire plot are contained in a single medium, viewers who do not follow every outlet will be lost and  less likely to remain loyal. Orbit latches onto the internet as its primary supplemental medium, and its production of fresh commercials based upon the same story keeps fans interested without burdening them with too much searching of their own.


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