HOW METHOD HAS SHAPED STO­RY­TELLING IN AOTEAROA

Idealog - - IDEALOG / METHOD -

Flashback to 2003 and it was a very dif­fer­ent world. Some homes were still on dial-up in­ter­net, a lot of web­pages were ugly and Nokia brick phones were the lat­est and great­est tech ac­ces­sory. But 2003 was also the year dig­i­tal-led creative agency Method opened its doors, paving the way for a new kind of dig­i­tal sto­ry­telling in New Zealand. Co-founder and manag­ing di­rec­tor Sam Ramlu re­flects on how tech­nol­ogy has trans­formed over the past 15 years in busi­ness, while Method’s goal re­mains the same: to de­liver im­mer­sive and seam­less ex­pe­ri­ences for the user. I never imag­ined that when we started out on this jour­ney 15 years ago, we would be play­ing with vir­tual re­al­ity head­sets, or that phones could be used to aug­ment our real world and bring sto­ries to life. All we ever set out to do was to cre­ate a gen­uine con­nec­tion, make dig­i­tal the hero and make sure peo­ple re­alised the value and power tech­nol­ogy could have in bring­ing sto­ries to life.

Method was born af­ter just a cou­ple of months of de­lib­er­a­tion and dis­cus­sion. We saw a mas­sive gap in the mar­ket: web was boom­ing, but the con­tent left much to be de­sired.

Sites were cookie cut­ters or an ex­ten­sion of the in­fa­mous and highly re­garded TVC. They were noth­ing more than just badly de­signed pages with screeds of con­tent – a place to fi­nally store all that in­for­ma­tion, and store they did!

There were ex­cep­tions, though. We started see­ing beau­ti­ful sites com­ing out of the US and UK – sites that took vis­i­tors on a fan­tas­ti­cal jour­ney through rich and im­mer­sive con­tent. My co-founder and Method’s creative di­rec­tor Eu­gene East­lake (right) was also cre­at­ing unique ex­pe­ri­ences for some of New Zealand’s top brands.

We won­dered, why couldn’t all web­sites be like this? We de­cided this war­ranted a closer look, and by team­ing up and work­ing to­gether we could cre­ate our own creative dig­i­tal agency. It was risky giv­ing up our reg­u­lar salaries to found a start-up, but like every­thing else we’d done to­gether so far, we didn’t give it a sec­ond thought and dived right in.

From day one, we set out to change dig­i­tal and its per­cep­tion in New Zealand.

We weren’t the only ones: agen­cies like Resn were also out there lead­ing the charge. But we were in the minority. Web was seen as the poor cousin, the tick box at the end of the cam­paign schedule where the agen­cies would think, ‘yikes, we need to get some­thing on­line cause web’s a thing now’.

Yet we had clients who were happy to take the risk. Bell Tea gave us an open brief, a lot of trust, and co­pi­ous amounts of tea. And we de­liv­ered a site that won nu­mer­ous awards and passed the test of time – it stayed on­line for over 10 years! It also started the con­ver­sa­tion with other clients: could they do some­thing as en­gag­ing that brought their story to life?

We quickly be­came some of New Zealand’s most well-known ad agen­cies’ right hand dig­i­tal man and woman. The ‘dream team’, they called us. They knew that we could in­ject some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary into their cam­paign. That if they needed a unique idea and some­one who could de­liver, we were the ones who could pull it off.

And, noth­ing has changed. But also, every­thing has.

Web has moved on – from flash to html, then to mo­bile, and now has come in a full cir­cle back to cookie cut­ter. But it’s a cookie cut­ter like never be­fore – you can cre­ate al­most any type of web­site now with­out ever need­ing a de­vel­oper.

I would lament, but we moved on as well. We’ve al­ways been at the bleed­ing edge, so we didn’t stick around to push a dy­ing art. We had other great things to dis­cover and cre­ate.

We al­ways saw tech­nol­ogy as a great tool and one that could be har­nessed to bring some amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences to life. To

reach out and en­gage with hu­man be­ings, of­fer some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary, give that wow fac­tor, and cre­ate a con­nec­tion.

We cre­ated ex­pe­ri­ences us­ing Xbox Kinect, in­ter­ac­tive ban­ners that didn’t un­der­stand bound­aries, took so­cial to the next level, and gam­i­fied where fun ‘didn’t make sense’ to clients – to some in­cred­i­ble re­sults.

We’ve been play­ing with aug­mented re­al­ity for over 10 years now. It was slightly dif­fer­ent back then, but still had some great ap­pli­ca­tions. We cursed but also thanked Poke­mon Go when it fi­nally made AR cool and ac­ces­si­ble.

We helped kick­start the Ocu­lus and threw up in buck­ets tak­ing the first ever VR roller coaster ride. But, no client was in­ter­ested in the early days, it was too risky – just like AR. Then, fi­nally, a brave client emerged and we cre­ated New Zealand’s first Sam­sung Gear VR ex­pe­ri­ence – for Unitec. One that linked in with brain­wave tech­nol­ogy and made for a lot of ‘fun’ in devel­op­ment – we don’t do things by halves that’s for sure. And to this day, it’s still a great ex­pe­ri­ence.

Four years later in present day, and it’s a dif­fer­ent story. AR and VR are the buzz­words right now. And com­ing close be­hind is Mixed Re­al­ity (MR). Awe­some, but also wor­ri­some. Like any tech­nol­ogy, if not done well, its pop­u­lar­ity can ac­tu­ally be a set­back (we’re look­ing at you QR codes).

Done well, these new tech­nolo­gies can be used to cre­ate im­mer­sive jour­neys and ex­pe­ri­ences one could only imag­ine. Take a look around a cof­fee plan­ta­tion, travel to the moon, talk to a Māori el­der, cre­ate a dig­i­tal but­ter­fly to send into a for­est, or bring your child’s story book alive. At the heart of all of these projects, re­gard­less of the tech, is the story – the ex­pe­ri­ence that you want some­one to have and the emo­tion you want some­one to feel.

Tech­nol­ogy is not the so­lu­tion. It never has been. How­ever, it is an in­cred­i­ble en­abler. It can en­hance, it can add value, it can ex­cite, and it can bring a story to life. Used well, it can cre­ate mean­ing­ful con­nec­tions and add value to our lives.

So, noth­ing’s changed. 15 years on and we’re still play­ing with the lat­est and great­est tech while de­liv­er­ing creative web­sites and lead­ing clients’ dig­i­tal strat­egy. We’re ex­per­i­ment­ing with and cre­at­ing tech­nol­ogy we never imag­ined we’d have our hands on. But we’re also still bring­ing to life sto­ries and ex­pe­ri­ences that en­gage and in­spire. We just have so many more ways to de­liver them now.

For more ex­am­ples of Method's work, head to: www. method. dig­i­tal

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