Hundreds of KFC customers in Russia have created commercials for the new Bacon iTwister that can be seen on KFC’s YouTube channel, and they all shot the ads themselves using the MovieMatic, an automated moviemaking machine set up in a Moscow restaurant January 29 through February 12 and headed to a St. Petersburg KFC for a two-week stint on February 19.
Created by Stockholm-based creative studio Perfect Fools expressly for a KFC “Be a Star”-themed campaign that will see one of the entries chosen to air on Russian television beginning March 31, the MovieMatic has a retro-sounding name, but it’s a thoroughly modern design that incorporates two Canon 5D Mark III cameras, lights, microphones, and other technology that enable it to light, direct, shoot, edit and post 45-second spots of one performer after another directly to YouTube.
Perfect Fools started working on the MovieMatic in October of last year. Reliability and a sturdy build were crucial, and usability was also a key consideration, says Perfect Fools technical director Björn Kummeneje, noting, “We wanted to make the actual interaction with the machine as simple as possible.”
And that’s what they did. A visitor who wants to record a video simply has to sit down in front of the MovieMatic, press a button, and follow prompts that instruct each participant to do three things: bite into a Bacon iTwister, toss a cell phone into a cup, and dance like crazy. The MovieMaker then integrates each performance into a template of pre-shot footage, so while each ad has a different star (or stars as some people choose to perform in groups of two or three), they all tell the same story about how a wild dance party could break out at KFC at any time.
Everyone who makes a video gets a receipt from the MovieMaker with the URL for their video so they can share it and get people to vote for them. Each entrant has only five days to rally as much support as possible. A judging panel of famous Russian bloggers will screen the most popular videos and choose the winner.
As for the level of participation, Perfect Fools creative partner Tony Högqvist says he has found that Russians are apparently as eager as other consumers around the world to promote the brands and products they like, though he honestly wasn’t sure how they would react when the machine was first placed in the Moscow KFC. “There was risk in the beginning. We are not experts on Russia, so we didn’t know how they would react to having a little fun and showing off in a restaurant environment,” Högqvist says. “But I was surprised by how well it turned out. People like walking up to the machine and playing around with it.”
Högqvist notes that there is no pressure on customers to engage with the MovieMatic, and it is made clear that anyone who does use it is participating in an advertising campaign. “One of the biggest mistakes advertisers do is trying to trick people into producing advertising content,” Högqvist maintains. “People engage much more easily with something like this than if you trick them.”