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Interactive Annual 16:
entertainment

ESPN MNF Interactive Storefront

Launch Movie

“The key to this installation’s success is that everyone, even non-fans, can get excited about catching a football. So many interactive storefronts confuse users with complex interactions but the simplicity of this one amps-up the crowd.” —Rachel Pasqua

“Advertising should be more than passive especially when it’s about sports. Ambient interactive pieces like this one turn an affinity or interest into street theater. It’s a great example to replicate, I can’t wait to see what we get in five years.” —Glen Sheehan


Overview: The “Is It Monday Yet?” campaign for Monday Night Football on ESPN was about finding entertaining and unexpected ways to remind football fans about the upcoming Monday night match-up. As the centerpiece of the 2009 integrated, multiplatform effort, storefronts in New York, Chicago and Boston were outfitted with interactive touchscreens utilizing gesture recognition technology, so passersby could stand in front of the store windows and try to catch consecutive footballs “thrown” at them by a virtual quarterback. The game used a computer vision based NUI (natural user interface) and, based on the user’s motion of “catching a ball,” the system would determine whether or not the pass was successful.

  • • Audio commentary by ESPN talent narrated each user’s performance until they missed a catch, which would “shatter” the window and end the game.
  • • The development team’s own high scores during testing were wiped off the leader board within the first hour of going live; by the end of the game’s five-week run, the top scores on the leader board had more than doubled.
  • • The game had lunch hour spikes as high as 40 games per hour.

Comments by Pedro Andres Sanchez, Eric Steele and Stuart Jennings

Is the audience you were targeting a particularly difficult one to reach? “It’s hard to get people’s attention these days, everyone’s got their heads down and their headphones on. But part of what made the place and time and mindset so challenging is also what made it such an awesome opportunity. On that sidewalk people are hurrying to make meetings, trying to get annoying coworkers out of their minds or escaping for lunch breaks. If you can get through to them by offering something unique and unexpected right then and there—all the better.”

Did the concept change during development? “Originally the game concepts were based on kicking the ball rather than catching. For a variety of concerns, including “public safety” and technology capabilities, it was changed to a game of catch. After the campaign launched and we saw how much people were getting into the act, jumping, extending the arms as quickly and as far as possible with complete disregard to being in the middle of bustling New York, it became obvious that we made the right decision. The experience wouldn’t have been as fun or as safe otherwise.”

Were there any specific demands that made the project easier or harder? “The need to have the quarterbacks change depending on the game schedule was a challenge. The process for each quarterback (ten total) from asset delivery to implementation was so time-consuming that on launch day we still had some quarterbacks that weren’t completed. It became a race against time, trying to implement the latest quarterbacks before the content would update at the end of each Monday night game.”

Credits

Stuart Jennings, art director
Eric Steele, writer
Alon Zouaretz, interactive designer
Derek Barnes/Stuart Jennings/John Parker, creative directors
Jerome Austria/Pedro Andres Sanchez, Monster Media, interactive creative directors
Kevin Proudfoot/Todd Waterbury, executive creative directors
Neal Arthur/Seth Gaffney, strategic planners
Elyse Bergel/Laurie Jarzemsky, information architects
Brand New School, motion graphics
Audio Engine, sound designer
Liz Whittaker, interactive producer
Gary Krieg, executive agency producer
Wieden+Kennedy (New York, NY), project design and development/ad agency
Monster Media, development partner
ESPN, client


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