Leave The World Behind: The so near yet so far digital experience.
I’m an unavowed fan of Forsman & Bodenfors. While remaning resolutely Swedish in their outlook, their philosophy and output blends digital nous with creative inventiveness and a focus on craft that is hard to beat anywhere in the world. But I find their most recent piece somewhat of a missed opportunity to build a fully integrated digital and film storytelling device. As much because the potential of this idea, is the equal of one of my favorite pieces of creative in the last few years (for the same client; Volvo.) North Kingdom’s ‘Cross Country Travels’ platform.
Leave The World Behind is a collaboration between Volvo and Swedish House Mafia. While not exactly over familiar with Swedish House Mafia’s oeuvre, it’s hard to ignore their international success and place at the center of the exploding EDM movement here in the United States. The collective has now split up to pursue other opportunities (by the sounds of it, Playing MSG to a bunch of bro’s isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – who knew?) Volvo saw an opportunity to create a campaign around this moment, imbuing it with a sense of grandeur and pathos not usually afforded to DJ’s & producers. It’s a smart bit of tactical strategic thinking, placing the brand at the center of a very contemporary piece of culture.
The resultant film – ‘Leave The World Behind’ is a beautifully realized piece that sees the three protagonists go their separate ways and follow their own paths, with help from Volvo’s luxury cars; all soundtracked by a spaced out version of the title track (One of their most famous songs and their ‘breakout’.) Sweden looks suitably epic and sparse, the cinematography giving the film an epic that befits the level of success they enjoyed. It’s part ad, part film, part music video, and it’s great.
But what lets this down is the digital experience. The website (www.leavetheworldbehind.com) has some really nice design touches, and feels immersive and overall well considered, but it also feels like a vessel for video itself, nothing more. It doesn’t contextulise their (or the brands’) story in any way. The journey that the Swedish House Mafia have been on is clearly one of a scale very few performers get to these days (whatever you think of their music.) And ties them closer to the brand than mere ‘Swedishness’. Their significance could be bought to life as a storytelling experience, augmented by avalanche of multimedia that exists around them. User generated and beyond. By ignoring their past in the main interactive piece, it lessens the impact of the film, and creates a disjointed effect. It lessens the drama that the film is trying to elicit. Which itself augments a weak call to action, which seems like a classic case of just sticking a hashtag on something and loosely gathering social sentiment. Whereas it should be generating the very nostalgia that the powers the myth and memory of the band.
You may ask why this is a problem. Well, I’m sure for many, it isn’t, and I might be picking on something disproportionally (which is not my intention.) But it highlights a problem that I’ve been investigating (see tomorrow’s blogpost for more…) of just sticking things ‘on’ the internet as opposed to building things ‘with’ the internet. By avoiding building a digital storytelling experience around this (albeit) beautiful film, we are robbed of the emotional resonance that an interactive, immersive digital experience could bring to the brand and band. What we are left with is an advert that happens to exist on the web, which is a missed opportunity all concerned.