On May 15th, 2009, over 60 participants in the Mazda 33 Keys ARG met in a Montreal warehouse, led by Pat Martin. Their goals: defeating the Unifos (the ARG’s bad guys), liberating Xira and, ultimately, to finally understand that the soul they were given the mission to recover by Reperio was none other than the Zoom Zoom of the new 2010 Mazda 3.
This ultimate stage in the interactive fiction (developed by Doner Canada and 1976 Productions on behalf of Mazda Canada) gathered all the players who had collected the keys — using various clues dispersed online, on television and radio broadcasts, on posters and in the field — to finally find out which of those keys would unlock the coveted car. Amélie Tremblay was the lucky owner of the winning key. Amélie and her famliy were very active players in the ARG and managed to find a total of seven keys!
It is obviously quite a satisfaction for the puppetmaster — as well as for the winner! — when that person worked really hard for the prize.
This ARG was developed exclusively for the French speaking market in the province of Quebec and was 1976 Productions’ first experience in the genre, and they got the bug! I met with Stéphane Raymond and Guillaume Bilodeau who told me the story behind the Mazda 33 Keys project.
“When we saw the amount of comments and also all the people that went looking for Pat Martin using GPS coordinates, we thought ‘This is unreal!’ I really, really loved it! The players were really absorbed by the gameplay. As the weeks went by, as soon as the White shepherd appeared, more and more people showed up, to the point where it became hard to hide the keys because we could always spot someone nearby with a cell phone ready to broadcast information about the game,” Stéphane told me.
The game started in mid-march with the distribution of flyers and other clues that led to the game’s rabbit hole, http://autocontrole.ca. Using a very rich cross-media campaign and the help of Dominic Arpin, a very well known technology and new media TV personality, the game had quite a timid start but gained momentum at a respectable pace. All in all, 20,000 players had some form of of interaction with the game and joined the “revolution” whose goal was to find a soul, with the help of an artificial intelligence named Reperio. According to official numbers, over 13% of the 20,000 players were active throughout the game play. This is a very respectable score given the restricted geographical area targeted by this campaign.
The 1976 Production team can be proud to have created a rich and exciting experience which turned out to be a very informative one, and a great success to boot. “There’s no doubt that we’re going to do more of those,” said a confident Stéphane Raymond, who is planning another immersive fiction, but a pan-Canadian one this time.
To learn more about this ARG, you can still visit Reperio’s website (www.reperio.ca) which offers a very interesting selection of the game’s archives. The follwing URLs are also still active:
Other miscellaneous facts (including game credits) about Mazda 33 Keys:
Client: Mazda Canada
Media: Astral Média-Mix
Social Media Consultant: Ze Agence et TxT MKT
Conception: Doner & 1976.
At 1976 Productions:
Creation/Production: Stéphane Raymond
Creation/Project Manager: Guillaume Bilodeau
Creation/Director: Hoda Adra
Creation/Social Media Manager: Marie-Sophie Desormeau
Gameplay/Puppetmaster/Actor: Thomas Pintal
Executive producer: Élaine Béliveau
Actors: Eve Duranceau, James Murray, Henri Pardo. Jean Provencher
Ghost Players: Marie Milette, Bachir Sirois-Moumni, Hugo Jacques
1976 Productions is a business that evolved around two main poles of traditional production: fiction and advertising. For the past two years, they company has been specializing in interactive and immersive environments. A thorough understanding of traditional productions and new medias have allowed them to create successful ARGs, such as the one developed for Mazda.
Geneviève Cardin is part of Baroblik Productions and was kind enough to be our correspondent for this article. We can’t thank her enough for being our French-speaking expert and for arranging the interview with the team behind the game.