Drawn to the Wild with Sarah Harmer
Posted December 17, 2012 by Theo // 0 comments
Early in 2012, Canadian outdoor clothing and gear retailer, Mountain Equipment Co-op, partnered with Canadian singer-songwriter, Sarah Harmer, to launch a digital campaign called Drawn to the Wild. Canadians were invited to participate in the campaign by making artistic contributions to Harmer’s “I’m a Mountain” video. In short, the campaign crowdsourced a re-imagined music video.
Crowdsourcing calls on people who are otherwise not connected to contribute in a small way toward a common goal. We see this on the web all the time… think Kickstarter and popular t-shirt manufacturer, Threadless. For Drawn to the Wild, site visitors were asked to use web-based drawing tools to trace or enhance one of the 1200 frames that made up the original music video.
This campaign was designed to raise awareness for threatened Canadian landscapes. For every re-envisioned frame submitted on the website, Mountain Equipment Co-op donated funds for protecting Escarpment Rural Land (PERL), Harmer’s environmental organization dedicated to protecting the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario.
“The Niagara Escarpment’s survival as a unique natural environment is seriously threatened. Drawn to the Wild is one way Canadians can both support its protection and collaborate with me and each other in a fun and creative way.” – Sarah Harmer
Full disclosure here. Capulet works closely with MEC, leading and managing its conservation project, TheBigWild.org. With Drawn to the Wild we created something fresh and fun for the MEC and Big Wild audiences, who are regularly contacted via newsletters and social media about environmental campaigns. This was a new way for them to participate.
Years ago while working as a technical writer, Darren’s boss encouraged him to “disteal.” That is, to be inspired by the very best ideas from colleagues and thought leaders and to emulate those ideas. In this case, Drawn to the Wild was heavily inspired by the crowdsourced Johnny Cash Project.
So how did it all come together? We selected Sarah’s tour documentary, “Escarpment Blues” as the featured music video on the microsite, www.drawntothewild.org. Website visitors were asked to draw on, fill in or highlight a film frame using a simple web-based drawing tool before submitting their work. This was a high-friction ask with lots of moving parts, so we created a YouTube how-to video to walk users through the process.
Developers and designers at Vancouver digital agency, Agentic, built a custom interface that was both straightforward to use and enabled us to vet and organize submissions on the website back end.
Frames were added to the video on the fly so that participants could click play to watch the music video take shape right before their eyes.
Now, let’s crunch the numbers. We shared the project via various online channels, including the TheBigWild.org and Mountain Equipment Co-op newsletters. Interestingly, Facebook advertising delivered the highest conversion rate of any source that sent significant traffic to the campaign. Twitter also performed surprisingly well. We put that down to the fun and unexpected nature of the project, which in many ways parallels the serendipity of Twitter.
To complete the video, we needed a minimum of 1200 frames. In total, 1822 frames were drawn and submitted, which was above our expectations. We kept 1477 of the frames submitted and rejected 345. It’s the Internet after all, so it’s no surprise that some rude drawings appeared in the mix, which is why each frame needed to be vetted before being added to the video. The average visitor submitted two frames and some keeners drew several each. Two enthusiastic contributors drew 56 and 54 frames, respectively. It took the average visitor about six minutes to add their frame.
Ultimately, we wanted visitors to play and have fun with the site, and feel good about contributing to land conservation at the same time.