A real–world interactive adventure created for a select group of influencers.
Reconnect with the journalists who loved and supported Hurts debut album “Happiness” and get them excited about upcoming record “Exile”.
- Hurts are a British synthpop band from Manchester consisting of synthesist Adam Anderson and singer Theo Hutchcraft.
- We were given a list of target journalists by Hurts management.
- Adam and Theo spent time in Russia while recording, influencing the album’s content and their approach to marketing it.
We created a bespoke real world interactive experience for a small group of target journalists which piqued their attention and led them down a rabbit hole of intrigue and mystery.
1A bit of homework
We started out by finding each journalist’s work address, and also obtaining a good quality photo of them.
2The cassette recorder
We sent each journalist an old fashioned “reporter” style cassette recorder emblazoned in red nail varnish with a cryptic “H” logo.
It also included a typewritten note asking them to keep an eye on their post:
This immediately piqued their interest:
Something amazing arrived in the post today. I don't even know what it is but it's amazing.— Peter Robinson (@Popjustice) January 16, 2013
PR, artist, label, potential stalker who can see my recent searches on amazon – whoever you are you have my attention. pic.twitter.com/Yd1FnJ4u— Aimee Cliff (@aimeecliff) January 7, 2013
3The Russian letter
Next to arrive was a hand–addressed envelope from Russia. Except it wasn’t really from Russia. We actually got Hurts’ Russian label to send us genuine local postage stamps, and we had a very crafty gentleman make us up some Russian postmark stamps. The letters were then hand–delivered to the offices of our journos.
Inside was a beautifully written love letter, composed of lyrics from Hurts’ last album and signed by the enigmatic Valentina (or Leon, depending on who was receiving the letter)...
4The dry cleaners
We also included a ticket for an item conveniently deposited at the nearest dry cleaners to their office.
Waiting there was a dinner jacket embroidered with our H symbol:
…and with a gold cassette in the breast pocket:
NME, Notion Magazine and Popjustice all visited the dry cleaning place. Popjustice wrote an in–depth article about the experience:
Each cassette tape contained music from the new album, intercut with snippets from Russian radio stations. In the box was a carefully photoshopped polaroid of the journalist with either Leon or Valentina, labelled with “Heaven 7.2.13”, the date and location of the band’s upcoming London gig.
This was the first time that music from “Exile” had been heard by anyone outside the band and label.
Our journalists were clearly enjoying the campaign, as evidenced by this tweet from Guardian writer Rob Fitzpatrick:
Popjustice summed up the experience so far at the end of one of their three in–depth articles.
5The Russian dolls
There was more to come. A few days later, each journalist received a final package containing a set of Russian dolls. The smallest doll had a gold chain attached, and a note from Valentina (or Leon) asking them to wear it to the band’s gig at Heaven.
The mystery post saga continues... this time with r Russian dolls and a gig invite pic.twitter.com/2lfxMtXa— The 405 (@The405) 5 February 2013
On producing their Russian doll at the gig, our journalists were led to what they thought was a VIP bar. In fact, immersive theatre and storytelling company Reuben Feels had created a bespoke theatrical experience.
Once all the journalists were in place, Leon and Valentina took them to meet their enigmatic leader Jon. This developed into a 5 minute narrative in which the journalists were indoctrinated into a strange cult.
Once the initiation was complete the journalists were each given a beautiful bound book, signed by Adam and Theo from Hurts and containing all of the lyrics from the new album. They were then led downstairs where the gig was about to commence.
7The interactive theatre app for iOS
The Exile app allowed members of the public to go take part in the same narrative we developed for the journalists. The theatrical part of the app was also written and produced by Rueben Feels.
Participants interacted with the story by speaking, and encountered music from Exile along the way. The app was recorded using 3D binaural audio, and was included in The Guardian’s 30 Best iPhone and iPad apps during the week of Exile’s release.
The campaign hooked it’s target audience from the off, generating a slew of tweets and articles from the journalists who were judged most important by the band and label, including writers from The Guardian, NME, Notion Magazine, Dummy Magazine, Popjustice and ShortList.
- Sony Music / Major Label
- Creative Directors
- Phil Clandillon & Steve Milbourne
- El Neal & Kate Geary
- Sophie Yeoman
- Project Management
- Benoit Cillard
- Audio Engineers
- Matthew Walters & Peter Hammerton
- Haolin Yang
- Andy Hui
- Interactive Audio & Design
- Andy Goodridge
- Voice Over
- Tom Denning
- Rosalind Wyatt
Immersive theatre team
- Theatre Company
- Reuben Feels
- Isabel Soden & Francesca Gardiner
- Directors / Producers
- Isabel Soden, Natalie K Marsland, Dom Le Moignan, Adam Johnstone
- App Cast
- Rachel Snider, Alyssa Kyria, Will Scott Masson
- Gig Cast
- Niki Khitrova, Emil Lager, George Siena, Thom Mitchell
- Eleanor Taylor–Davis
- The Reuben Feels Choir