Three things with Esme Rottschafer

The senior strategist at Leo Burnett shares her top media inspirations: Barbie, beautiful music and existential media.

To identify the work they think best exemplifies smart new media thinking, MiC regularly invites guest curators to share their thoughts on three pieces of work that inspire them in the mediaverse today. In this edition, new Leo Burnett senior strategist Esme Rottschafer, an alumni of Saatchi & Saatchi, The Media Company and Capital C, talks Barbie, beautiful music and existential media.

My ‘Three Things’ are inspired by one simple idea, make your work act human. Whether answering the simple question, ‘what do you want to do before you die?’ or experiencing the Hamburg Philharmonic like never before or seeing Ken and Barbie get back together again – each of these things have this idea in common and that’s why they are some of the most inspiring work I’ve seen lately.

These cases demonstrate the power of ideas that are social and purposeful. Social ideas don’t need to be pushed at people, fans don’t need to be bought and reach becomes a self-perpetuating spinoff. Great storytelling and experience design creates a user interface that feels inherently human, participatory and resonant… and yes, that includes TV.

‘What do you want to do before you die?’

That’s the question posed by New Orleans-based artist and urban planner Candy Chang, who installed an oversized chalk board in her neighbourhood on the side of an abandoned home. The installation explores the common space of a community and puts on public display the self-expression (aspirations and dreams) of community members. It builds social capital within the community and delivers a thoughtful and intentional point of view through participation. Cindy creates a value exchange with her audience through a space that was previously neglected.

The biggest concert in the world
100 musicians, 50 locations, one concert. The Hamburg Philharmonic set out to create the biggest concert in the world, one that everyone in the world could experience live, online or in person. Using the city of Hamburg as a stage, the musicians were situated in 50 different locations with a video camera and a live TV screen. Each played their own part, led by conductor Simone Young, who led the orchestra via live feed from the tower of a famous landmark, St. Michaelis Church.

Technically and logistically complicated, but simple and powerful in its execution, the Hamburg Philharmonic used technology to converge content, time and space.

‘We may be plastic but our love is real!’
This was a comment left by a YouTube viewer in response to the Barbie and Ken announcement that they are getting back together after seven years of just being friends…and the rest is pure marketing history. The campaign is a perfect fusion of human understanding, cultural insight, social context, content and technology and it really brings this story to life. It isn’t integrated marketing, it’s a branded entertainment platform made up of storytelling and experience design. It’s like following the story of any other celebrity couple through reality TV: it plays out in real-time, you can friend them on Facebook, find out the backstory of their relationship, or watch women try to get their own genuine Ken on Like any celebrity couple you adore, you’ll hope they stay together and you just might forget they’re made of plastic. And this time, you had control over whether they got back together or not.