When working with partners to develop an experience, ensuring a ubiquitous campaign message is always a paramount goal. Never more so is this objective realized than with campaigns tied to cause marketing and social for social good. With programs of this kind, often the message and voice are the most critical aspects of the experience. We work closely with the brand and brand constituents to create an experience that captures these concepts in every frame.

The Special Olympics is one of the largest of those uplifting causes. Working with Proctor & Gamble and the Proud Sponsor of Moms brand, we were given the exciting opportunity to support the Special Olympics organization and families with the ‘What a Mom Sees’ Video Creator, the brand’s most successful campaign to date.

P&G, the Special Olympics, and Proud Sponsor of Moms

The impetus of the experience was a commercial created by the brilliant Wieden+Kennedy, which tells the story of Molly Hincka, a Special Olympics athlete, and her mother Kerry. In it, Kerry states, “I never saw the things my child couldn’t do. I only imagined what she could.”

Translating this indescribable bond between mothers and their children to Facebook proved quite a challenge, but through collaboration with the Special Olympics, Procter & Gamble, and Wieden+Kennedy, we developed a highly interactive experience for anyone to create a touching dedication for their mom or child in the same fashion as the commercial. The output is a video that takes the viewer back through time, through the memories of the dedicator, and arrives at the powerful and elegantly simple message: P&G’s Proud Sponsor of Moms…”Thank You, Mom.”

Working within a complex organization

Rarely are social experience projects simple and straightforward. Some campaigns require a nearly unparalleled level of hands-on’ness to ensure that all parties are marching to the beat of the same drum (a.k.a. the project timeline). This is especially true when there are more than just two parties – Client | Developer – involved. In this case, we had 6 stakeholders – Client (P&G) | Brand (Proud Sponsor of Moms) | Hosting Provider (Savvis) | Technology Developer (Stuzo) | Creative Agency (Wieden+Kennedy) | Org (Special Olympics). All parties were responsible for different aspects of the What a Mom Sees Special Olympics Video Creator, and committed to an imperative and immovable launch date.

While the Proud Sponsor of Moms brand is still relatively new (launched for the 2010 Winter Olympics), compared to the other brands in the Procter & Gamble family, P&G has been a sponsor of the Special Olympics for the past 30 years. During the project, we interfaced with groups at P&G global, the Proud Sponsor of Moms brand team, and the preferred hosting partner, Savvis.

Additionally, we worked hand in hand with Wieden+Kennedy on both the look and feel of the experience and the functional elements of the video creation process, while they simultaneously interfaced with the Special Olympics and the Hincka family for the heart-filled content. With so many parties involved, some being extremely large and complex organizations, it was imperative that project managers across teams worked closely together, forming a task force dedicated to hitting mutually critical dates in the timeline.

Mastering a technologically complex program

Throughout the video creation process, users were given several opportunities to ensure the most personal touches were added. These included:

  • Unique names for the mother and child
  • Uploading photos both from Facebook and the user’s personal
  • computer
  • Reordering, scaling and focusing all images
  • Recording an optional voice message
  • Entering a personal text message

Each individual task presented its own technological and usability challenges.

Flash is one technology used to great success in multiple points throughout the application. The voice recording and video preview sections were developed using flash, both for it’s visual appeal as well as usability. As flash is the de-facto standard on the most highly used browers, it was chosen over other options, such as Java applets, which are not as widely
used. Flash also enabled the inclusion of a pre-recorded music track, unique to each video depending on the amount of assets that were input. This way, it didn’t matter if the user uploaded 10 photos or 20 photos, the music score would sync with the photo shifts in the same way each time, resulting in a consistent impact when watching any of the user-generated videos.

Highlighting the child and their gifts was of special importance to this campaign. As such, it was necessary to ensure the focus of each individual photo used to create the montage was on the child. During the video creation process, users were instructed to review each photo and place a scaleable oval over the face of the child. This oval not only set the midpoint of the photo, but also automatically resized the image to fill the full screen. The result: each frame of the video provided a clear and focused image of the child, with their face at the center of it all.

The final video generation was accomplished using both ImageMagick and ffmpeg. Using both technologies allowed a less than 4-hour turn around on most videos, depending on server load. Videos were automatically published to the user’s Facebook wall (requiring several additional Facebook permissions, including offline access), as well as the user’s Facebook video tab. Users also had the opportunity to approve their video for inclusion in the Thank You, Mom video gallery – a process which required manual upload by a team of moderators, due to a lack in Facebook API.

We are happy to say the project was a great success. Most importantly, the campaign aided in the formation of a powerful online community of Special Olympians and their families. Each video shared on the Thank You, Mom page brought an outpouring of support from users who were formerly strangers, but now friends.