The Geico gecko is a
Across the pond, we in the
From M&M’s ‘colourful crew’ to the Vauxhall Corsa C’mons, CG characters have been around for decades and make great brand ambassadors. They can be developed into the embodiment of brand voice whilst feeding into consumers’ hunger for celebrities. Unlike ‘real people’, they offer the advantages of round-the-clock availability and unlimited flexibility.
But there’s something different about Aleksandr (below, right) and the Geico gecko that takes them to the next level.
By giving them lives that reach beyond the 30-second TV spot, they’ve both managed to generate unprecedented levels of exposure for brands from sectors not normally known for their sexiness. This has been achieved, in large part, to the emergence of a game-changing technology called ‘realtime CG’. For without realtime CG, neither Aleksandr nor the Geico gecko would be in possession of the cheeky interactivity that has made them so famous.
The traditional method of creating CG animation entails a lengthy and costly process of frame-by-frame rendering. This means that all narratives need to be predetermined and all animation needs to be prerecorded. But realtime CG can, as the name suggests, be rendered in an instant to create ‘alive’ and interactive CG characters.
This leap in possibilities has become a reality thanks to the burgeoning love affair between
Realtime CG means that characters like Aleksandr and the Geico gecko can respond to live situations with instant witticisms, thus creating exactly the type of branded content that spreads like wildfire across social platforms.
This nascent technology’s potential was spotted early by Coca Cola when they developed their immensely successful ‘Polar Bowl’ campaign, turning the brand’s iconic polar bears into live and interactive CG characters during the 2012 Super Bowl.
If you’re still in doubt as to the power of interactive CG, just take stock of Polar Bowl’s results. Within the four-hour Super Bowl game, the campaign attracted 9m consumers across various platforms, garnered an average viewing time of 28 minutes and saw Coca Cola’s Twitter following grow by 38%. In fact, the campaign was so successful that it blew Coca Cola’s available servers.
We are now in an era where formatting improvements like G4, MPEG-DASH and H265 mean that video is becoming a more instantaneous medium. Such innovations are coinciding with the arrival of video-led social media platforms like Vine and Tout.
Although still images currently rule the Internet, Cisco’s chief futurist, Dave Evans, predicts that 91% of Internet data in 2015 will be video. So quick-to-react video content is becoming an increasingly crucial element in any marketing strategy.
What's more, technological advances are improving at such a rate that realtime CG will soon move beyond animals and onto humans, as illustrated by Activision’s realtime CG human demo. Prepare to be amazed… and perhaps even a little scared. But it’s the future.
And it’s also a rather convenient way to take ownership of instantly created, easily controllable and always-on ‘human’ brand ambassadors.