Campfire’s “Community” Site Shines Light on Dreamworks, HP Relationship

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Part movie promotion, part branding effort, and wholly community-oriented, Campfire Media’s latest campaign—which ties HP’s new dv5000 notebook and Dreamworks’ upcoming film “Over the Hedge”—infuses unique social networking aspects to the art of product plugging.

The New York-based agency, perhaps best knows for its Audi “Art of the Heist” spots, launched a buzz-building microsite in the beginning of May that ties in both products in a dialogue-inspiring atmosphere. Explaining the origins of Hedgegames.com, Campfire co-founder/partner Mike Monello says, “HP came to us and they had this ongoing partnership with Dreamworks. They wanted to do something that talked about the partnership, but in a unique way.”

He continues, “When it came right down to it, we were like ‘you know, the movie’s an entertainment property and the notebook they wanted to promote, the dv5000, they’re calling it the ‘entertainment’ notebook. It has all kinds of features for watching movies. We just thought that the best way to explain the partnership was to do it in an experiential way. That’s where the idea for the Hedgegames.com site came in, to just completely immerse somebody in the world of the movie and the dv5000 at the same time, and make it a really entertaining experience.”

While movie trailers and HP dv5000 product info are intact, the two focal points of Hedgegames.com are its 100 puzzle games—tied to the HP product line and “Over the Hedge”, of course–and a social network section entitled “The Forest”, which acts as a forum for shared info, movie factoiods, and even features a viral video mimicking a scene from the movie to help drive users to the HedgeGames site.

In turn, Campfire took a unique, incentive-based approach to challenging visitors. “I love those Flash games, but I always find myself amused by them but not really taking anything away,” Monello says. “So what we thought we’d do with Hedge Games is we developed a hundred puzzles, little mini-games from simple trivia to more difficult, code-breaking, Da Vinci Code-type stuff. Some of the puzzles are difficult enough to require people to collaborate.” He adds, “[In] The Forest, which is the community aspect, we encourage people to go in there and solve the puzzle and finish all one hundred puzzles. We [also] created a sweepstakes around it that would enhance the collaborative nature rather than make it competitive.”

The sweepstakes itself, which runs through August, varies from the grand prize of a full HP Home Entertainment System to other hi-tech products in the HP line. But for Monello though, it was the instilling of social capabilities into Hedgegames.com that carried much importance. “We wanted to create something like that which went beyond the solo gaming experience, and turn it into something where you could bring in your friends, meet new people and turn it into a deeper experience,” he says. “When you put up a site with information about a product, it’s great and helpful for people who are searching for information on that product. But how do you bring people in and let them know about you when they’re not specifically looking for you? That’s where I think sites like this really help. You could get in here, start playing the games and as you’re playing the game, you can learn about the [HP dv5000] without having the hard sell.”

Of course, Monello is no stranger to shared, viral experiences. Nearly seven years ago, he and his partners at Haxan Films unleashed the Blair Witch Project on the masses, turning a small indie film made by a handful of Orlando guys into a worldwide phenomenon. As expected, Monello attributes much of the breakout success to the ‘Net. “Blair Witch, in terms of the Internet campaign, was a true dialogue for people who were interested in the movie,” he says. “It was one of those things where we had scenes from the film play on the Bravo network before the film was even shown. There was a lot of talk about it on the show’s website, and we realized that people wanted more information. So we actually started a website to feed that and build from there. It’s really a conversation, where the audience is saying ‘hey, we want more’ and we started feeding that. And the more they asked, the more we created. We kept feeding each other until the Web world became so huge, and this was all while we were finishing the film.”

Of course, we all know how that story ended.

Take a puzzling ride Over the Hedge and through the forest at http://www.hedgegames.com

Friends are, of course, welcome to join you.

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