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Interactive Annual 17:

Best Buy Movie Mode

Launch App

Launch Movie

“Well-integrated, playful execution that takes a common curiosity about the movie—what those little guys are saying—and reveals it.”
—Jill Nussbaum

“A great example of the creative use of mobile to challenge social norms and deliver unique value to a familiar medium. It created one more reason to go see the movie.”—Jared Benson

Overview: This project promotes a partnership between Best Buy and the Universal Studios feature animation, Despicable Me. Typically movie tie-ins involve ads, a special promotion or a limited-time offer; this project demonstrates Best Buy’s passion for innovating the way people use technology to enhance entertainment. This first-ever mobile app synced with the movie screen to translate what the Minions were saying during the 3-D end credits of the movie. The app also included a theater locator that helped users find a nearby digital 3-D theater and, of course, the nearest Best Buy. For the DVD release of Despicable Me, users were able to translate every hilarious word the Minions were saying throughout the entire movie.

  • • Movie Mode took almost eleven months (August 2009-July 2010) from initial briefing to the release of the app for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. The technology behind it was a combination of digital audio processing, mobile audio-detection algorithms and creativity.
  • • The biggest challenge was to find a way to integrate the sonic cues, used to trigger the translation, into the film’s sound design, which filmmakers didn’t want to be audible to the human ear. The solution was to layer the sonic cues throughout the movie, in places that seemed natural to the audio of the film.
  • • Movie Mode was launched with a goal of 100,000 down-loads. As of December 2010, Movie Mode has been downloaded over 343,531 times; it was ranked as high as number 6 among all entertainment apps and number 41 among all free applications in the Apple App Store.

Comments by Crispin Porter + Bogusky

What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “We faced many challenges while creating Best Buy Movie Mode, from juggling multiple creative partners to creating an entirely new technology, but our biggest challenge was selling the idea to the theater exhibitors themselves. Mobile phones have always been a nemesis for theaters and our idea hinged on moviegoers pulling out and interacting with their phones inside the theater. To ease exhibitor concerns, we positioned the application as a way to help encourage and reward proper mobile phone etiquette. By turning Movie Mode on at the beginning of the movie, our application automatically silenced the phone’s ringer, dimmed its screen and told users to keep their phones in their pockets until they were alerted to take them out. After countless meetings with theater exhibitors, we finally got the green light and support to move forward. ’”

What impact has this project had on increasing sales/awareness for the client? “Because of its revolutionary nature, the application and its experience have been the topic of tech blogs, news outlets and big entertainment publications alike. But perhaps what’s most important is that Movie Mode is now being seen as a legitimate platform and a tool for movie studios to use to create additional layers of entertainment within their films. Right now, there are other Movie Mode-like experiences in the works for future feature films, as well as additional functionality now available for the at-home experience. It’s successfully positioned Best Buy as an innovator and leader in the mobile app and entertainment space.”


Michael Ackerman, art director
Ken Slater, senior art director
Andrew Ault/Brian Frost/Peter Knierim, writers
Justin Ebert/DJ Pierce, co-creative directors
Steve Babcock/Dave Swartz, creative directors
Jeff Benjamin/Rob Reilly, chief creative officers
Mike Bucks/Ken Goldfarb, programmers
Winston Binch, interaction director
Dan Fox, interactive technical director
Catherine Christiansen, integrated producer
Tony Tung, senior integrated producer
Ivan Perez-Armendariz, executive agency producer
Dave Rolfe, integrated production director
Crispin Porter + Bogusky (Boulder, CO), project design and development
Best Buy, client

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