Playback: Lara Hoefs on Twilight’s Transmedia Evolution

playback_logoNovember 7, 2013  

by Danielle Ng See Quan

The Twilight Saga spawned an extensive transmedia campaign that included a Time Capsule for fan-uploaded content, brand partnerships with companies including Jamba Juice and Hot Topic, and usingTwitter and social media channels to give progress updates in various characters’ voices. Here, Twilight Saga brand manager and transmedia producer Lara Hoefs of StoryDisruptive delves into how listening to fans of the franchise contributed to developing the highly successful transmedia property. Ms. Hoefs presents on the topic today at Merging Media in Vancouver. 

PB: When putting the Twilight transmedia property together, did you determine upfront what the revenue streams would be, and then build the strategy around that? Or was it about the story first and then determining how to monetize after?

LH: The Twilight Saga evolved into a transmedia property because it hit the mainstream at a time when the media landscape was in the midst of a huge shift and the fans demanding more opportunities to consume Twilight story and character. In transmedia terms, the IP was a “locked property” because the author, Stephenie Meyer, did not want any added story beyond the original canon she wrote. Despite this, graphic novels of her original books were created and Meyer herself released a novella, “The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner,” which was the only story extension the film franchise had. Both of which fans consumed like crazy, because they were passionate and hungry for more of that story world.

That said, transmedia is more than telling stories across platforms. It’s also about creating story experiences that engage audiences and provide them with more opportunities to dive into a story world, whether new or existing. And this is what was done on The Twilight Saga – we created opportunities for fans to dive into the story they loved, to meet the stars, to be in community with each other and ultimately immerse themselves in the story experience that was Twilight. These are key elements to a successful transmedia property and are what made Twilight flourish.

PB: In building the pieces of the story, what approach did you take to understanding and then targeting the audience? Or, did the existing fan base direct how to build the transmedia story world?

LH: Listening is a very important element of a successful transmedia campaign. We started listening to the fans early and throughout the franchise. We came to know who they were, what their culture was made up of, what they wanted and hoped for. Then we allowed this information to inform the development of the franchise. Transmedia is about audiences becoming more involved in the story process and today’s participatory media landscape allows storytellers to build a relationship with their audience. And as with any relationship, you need to listen, build and nurture. And that’s what we did.

PB: In the Twilight Saga campaign, how did you decide what the best use for the elements that were involved in the campaign

LH: This ties into the previous question.  The best transmedia properties are those that listen and invite audiences to participate in the evolving story experience. At every point of engagement with the fans, smart decisions were made that best served the franchise, whether that be the building of the fan story experience or serving marketing goals. Summit Entertainment wisely navigated these decisions and ensured that each element of the campaign had its intentional purpose. When it came to getting fans to participate, that was rarely a problem as Twilight fans are passionate and are always eager to participate in a story experience that provides them further engagement with story, characters and each other. We just had to build it and invite them to join in, and they did.

PB: What transmedia trends do you think well see in 2014?

LH: I think we’ll see more independent properties, like Lizzie Bennet Diaries, succeed and help inform the ever-evolving transmedia storytelling landscape. We’re also going to see Hollywood embrace what transmedia is and the value transmedia strategies have to guide the industry towards a new era.

To read the original article, click here.

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