AUM'S REUNION: A LOST CHILD'S SEARCH FOR HOME

TitleAUM'S REUNION: A LOST CHILD'S SEARCH FOR HOME
BrandGOOGLE
Product / ServiceGOOGLE VOICE SEARCH
CategoryA04. Online: Non-fiction
EntrantACROSS THE POND PTE Singapore, SINGAPORE
Idea Creation ACROSS THE POND PTE Singapore, SINGAPORE
Idea Creation 2 GOOGLE ASIA PACIFIC Singapore, SINGAPORE
Production ACROSS THE POND PTE Singapore, SINGAPORE

Credits

Name Company Position
David Foggon Across the Pond Creative Director
Nick Alden Across the Pond Creative
Hannah Salvanes McClean Across the Pond Producer
Giorgio Gremigni Across the Pond Editor
Stefan Hunt Across the Pond Director
Campbell Brown Across the Pond Director of Photography
Samit Malkani Google Brand & Creative Lead, Google South-East Asia & India
Mike Jittivanich Google Head of Marketing, Thailand
Manita Rattanarungruengchai Google SMB, Marketing

The Campaign

The thing that excited the whole of Google APAC about this idea was the creative ambition: we were going to make a short film for them that elevated this story far beyond an interview, far beyond the usual branded documentary - and into a highly cinematic realm that would be at home on the big screen. Working with the Google marketing team we developed the strategy of distributing the film using the YouTube masthead - showcasing it as a unique content experience. We then recreated Aum’s childhood experiences using a child actor and a specially crafted narrative. Rather than ‘interview’ Aum in the usual style, we used hours and hours of Aum’s own interview responses to craft a narrative ‘script’ for Aum himself to voice. The end result was the viewers feeling that they’re being transported back to a moment in time - just the way cinema does.

Creative Execution

This narrative-led piece of almost fiction-like storytelling was all about the craft. Beautifully composed wides on rooftops, or silhouettes in alleyways were planned carefully in advance to convey the isolation or vulnerability that Aum faced at points in his life. These were preceded by moments of fast-moving, handheld footage, to capture the energy and excitement of running away. This approach to the visual-language enabled us to do things you’d normally only do in a fictional narrative - such as the mirroring device we have at the start of the film, where we open on Aum as a lost child, juxtaposed with the older, present-day Aum looking at a photograph of his younger self - a visualisation of his own memories. Months after we began filming on location in Thailand, the end result was a genuinely moving story that humanised the role of technology and generated millions of views in hours.

On its first day of release, Aum’s Reunion had generated over 2.5 million views and was being shared and liked by thousands. Trend-watching site, ‘Most Watched’ had it listed as one of the day’s trending videos. Within a week views had hit over 5 million, with over 15k likes and over 5k shares. But what was really amazing was the impact it was having on people. What did Google get out of it? Huge brand love, as millions of people got to see just how positive their technology can be in modern, human lives - enabling things to happen that would have been impossible just a few years ago.

Aum’s Reunion is the kind of branded entertainment you don’t come across very often. We stumbled upon an incredible true story that had the makings of something special, and turned it into a piece of immersive cinema with the sole objective of delighting the audience. It’s a genuinely touching human story that anyone can relate to, which was only possible because of the client’s product. And the engagement levels speak for themselves. Over 5 million organic views, thousands of comments, over 15 thousand likes. It was one of the Internet’s trending videos on its day of release.

With YouTube as our main distribution channel, we needed to play to its strengths. Aum’s story is by no means a short one - it was always going to be a 5 min+ film, since we’re talking about 15 years of someone’s life experiences. Data reports are always claiming that online attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. So how would we ensure that this story got the visibility it deserved? The simple answer was to make the opening of the film compelling and unmissable, immersing the audience in the emotion and the experience as quickly as possible. We believed that if we hooked the audience with this incredible story they wouldn't want to leave until the end.

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