With incredible acceptance speeches and talented winners gracing the stage, this special event celebrating the best in television never ceases to blow us away. The star-studded stage graced record-breaking nominees and the world witnessed history in the making, with Zendaya winning twice as the youngest actress of all time and Squid Game winning as the first non-English language series for outstanding drama.
With these groundbreaking nominations, we’ve also witnessed a lot of change in the production space and the coordination of the show. It’s no secret that a whole lot has changed in the last few years, especially due to COVID restrictions, but luckily, our team found new ways to grow within those changes. With Damian Petrou on the ground coordinating and directing the General Press Room in both the physical and digital space and Amber Sjomeling, Stephen Cashmere and Johanna Ruiz revamping the new interactive website, we were able to transform the previous year’s digital experience into a hybrid one. Looking back at how we got here, it’s been quite the journey.
Back in 2020, Brave New Media was brought in to work on the Creative Arts Emmys, a place where they showcase makeup, hair, and choreography awards. It didn’t take long for the team to notice our digital integrations and nimble efforts in production work, as we were then moving on up and added to the first virtual 73d Emmys event at the height of the pandemic. Because of our previous years’ setups, we were able to take those learnings and create something completely new in a hybrid format for the 74th Emmys. Our job was to help the press report on the news as quickly as possible, and we did just that and more, through on-the-ground direction and a website refresh, feeding in live streams, transcripts, and zoom interviews.
Because of this revamp, the press was able to be reached directly both at home and on-site, and acted as a living, breathing, resource center for instant real-time tweeting, interviewing, and announcements. It was inclusive of embedded plug-ins, integrated password and management features and interactive capabilities specialized for the press.
Every year, we see familiar faces and old friends at the Emmys working hard on production. In a way, it kind of reminds us of summer camp, in the best way. The energy is always sky-high, with key folks coming through year after year and pulling on their strengths to take this event to new heights.
A couple of months ago, NOUN agency brought on the Brave New Media LA team to rethink and revamp the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards show. It was our first time working this event, which honors and celebrates athletic excellence by recognizing the nation’s most outstanding high school student-athletes. In short, It’s known as the most prestigious honor in high school sports. The challenge? To reimagine the pre-pandemic show in under 1 hour while presenting it in an intimately cool new setting that blows everyone away. We did it in 37 mins, without a hitch!
12 nominees graced the stage which was narrowed down to 1 girl and 1 boy to win the title, hosted by the electrifying football player J.J Watt and sports broadcasting superstar Taylor Rooks in downtown Hollywood. Brave New Media LA was in charge of writing the show, staging, and providing experiential optimizations to ensure a successful event. The team worked with Sweetwater and Kinetic Lighting to build a uniquely designed curved LED round stage. But it didn’t stop there, we made a couple of other tweaks too.
Pre-pandemic this event would have been held at a fancy ballroom with a lengthy 2-hour ceremony, but the goal was to appeal to a younger demographic, primed by snappy TikTok videos. An overall quicker show was the focus. We scrapped the awkward Q and A session from previous shows to cut down on time and had the nominees come out on stage one by one instead, giving them each their time to shine by spotlighting them à la an NBA All Star game intro. We wanted to recognize and give the nominees their individual moments and a chance for a slick photo opp without putting time at stake. COVID really allowed us to reimagine this event, hitting pause on the things we thought could be improved on with our optimizations. We brought our experience from our previous red carpet events and our expertise to NOUN and Gatorade. They looked to us for advice on reserved seating, placement, and so on. Come show day, we spent time briefing the talent and walking them through everything in rehearsals to ensure everything ran smoothly come show time.
When it was all over we ended off feeling inspired by all the beaming athletes and the hard work behind the scenes that pulled everything together. This year’s show was successful and innovative in a whole brave new way and we can’t wait to do it all over again next year!
One February morning, Damian Petrou in Los Angeles answered a call that would throw him and his seven team workers of Brave New Media (BNM) into the thick of homicide hunters. XG Productions, the production company responsible for Fox’s America’s Most Wanted gave them three weeks to develop a modernized data privacy and security solution for AMW new release, March 15, 2021, that would encourage more people to contact them without needing to pick up the phone and call.
Fox wanted the system to be secure. It also had to satisfy both the US Marshals and the FBI with their stringent data privacy and security requirements. Finally, BNM was expected to design the tool for prime time.
“So I’m a failure enthusiast,” Damian said. “That’s our motto: We’re not afraid to fail. We’re brave. We learn more from failing than from achieving. Three weeks? Sure it’s a challenge but even though we’re not always the best, we’re always available – almost like a helpdesk for clients.”
Since 1990, BNM had created multiple publicity events for Fox. One of their splashiest was a VR livestream for Fox television annual Teen Choice Awards. But this? This was something new.
“Well, this was COVID.” Damian said. “No time to deal with self-preservation. The mood was all existentialist. What’s my legacy? How can I make the world better. Catching criminals fit the bill. There was also this sense of urgency. It was three weeks before the show. They wanted a solution that was creative, technical, and secure. We’re nimble. We’re always ready to move mountains and push boundaries. We were willing to take the risk.”
Those first two weeks, Damian and his team reviewed various customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Their own customized WordPress plug-in that satisfied XG Productions, the company behind Fox’s reboot of AMW, displeased the IT teams of both Fox and the FBI.
Their ideal CRM had to satisfy multiple stakeholders.
“These included,” Stephen Cashmere of BNW explained, “Fox Privacy and Data Security, Fox Legal, Fox Information Security, Fox Creative Services, Fox Production, XG Productions, and our own Brave New Media design and development team.”
The marketing agency test-drove the platform’s functionality and user experience; inspected data quality and conversion; checked its usability, reliability and confidentiality; tested cross-platform compatibility and mobile integration; compared quotes for CRM software; and developed test cases and test scripts to root out vulnerabilities. Over and again, one or other of the security stakeholders rejected their offerings: Not secure enough. Doesn’t comply with our requirements. Needs to have no holes whatsoever.
One week left. Back to the table for more CRM testing that focused on security requirements. Forty-eight hours before deadline, Damian and his team approached each of the stakeholders. They warned: We’ve found the best product. It seems great. Secure? Absolutely! Only one problem. What’s that? It’s expensive. But in terms of security, nothing even touches its fingernails.
That CRM became AMW’s unhackable receptacle for tips (resulting in turn in its new toll-free number (833-3AMWTIP)).
It was Salesforce.
Unknown to Brave New Media, AMW was actually the software giant’s second major foray into handling secret government information, after its CRM system for the State Department earlier that month.
Salesforce’s online database of customer information is mostly known for its collaboration tools, customer engagement tools, analytics and intuitive, mobile-ready dashboard, among other items. On the side, Salesforce has pronounced privacy features that David Liu, Salesforce Technical architect, says could help him keep expenses hidden from his wife.
For starters, this really secure platform can be configured to four different layers of access control that restrict edit functions and screen access to certain users. Administrators can also control password policies and log-in access based on hours, location and email domain, among other items. Finally, administrators can adjust its Health Check tool for maximum security.
“An important feature of building a single-page application on the Salesforce platform is performance.” Tom Gorgolis of BNM explained. “[We needed] the shortest possible wait time so that callers can get their tips vetted and into the system and off to Federal Law Enforcement, otherwise users may leave that app and tips may get lost.”
If you were one of those 5.1 million AMW viewers with a tip, you’d call the toll-free hotline number anonymously. Federal agents from the FBI and the US Marshals answer your tips at a secret call center in a nondescript neighborhood east of LA and slip them into their Salesforce database.
“What’s really satisfying is when we do get those tips, and they do lead to the apprehension of a fugitive.” FBI Special Agent Raj Patel said. “We make sure every piece of information is scrutinized, and then we make sure it gets to the right agent in the right part of the country or the world.”
Four days after BNM introduced its 2021 enhancements, the FBI caught Alison Gracey and Christopher Jones who’d been on the run for nearly ten years after they’d drowned 36-year-old Aimee Rhoads in Florida. And BNM felt they’d used their agency experience to make the world safer.
They also felt they had demonstrated their commitment to their motifs of “Brave” and “New”.
“When you move from the one dimensional analog phone world of dialing in your AMW Tips, to the digital world of submitting your tips through a website,” Tom said, “there is a whole new spectrum of requirements that need to be addressed. It’s not as simple as setting up a one-page website with a contact form. There are data privacy and data security requirements … and when multiple stakeholders are involved, each has their own guidelines.”
Google recently introduced a new video format called VR180, which focuses on high resolution for both mobile and desktop viewing. As the platform is still fresh to the market, Google is looking to showcase virtual reality in new ways. FOX’s Teen Choice pre-show changed the game by broadcasting in YouTube 180 VR, and we had the opportunity to produce the historic broadcast. With VR filming being such a new format, everyone on-set had to stay flexible and quick-thinking to accommodate. Brave New Media wrote the main script for the show, including an opening exchange between the hosts, pre-recorded segments, and the overall flow of the hour-long live broadcast. The broadcast was a massive success, with over 250,000 live viewers and 98% ‘thumbs up’ YouTube rating. We were able to show our quick decision-making, flexibility, time-sensitive creative output, and poise under pressure to deliver a quality broadcast.
In 2016, our video producer Damian Petrou directed and produced the FOX Teen Choice Awards Blue Carpet stream on Facebook Live. The broadcast drew 150,000 live viewers and received high interactivity. FOX asked us to produce the broadcast again in 2017. Part of this process included writing the script and run-of-show for the hosts to read off of a teleprompter, which Brave New Media wrote the bulk of before coming to set. We remained flexible during rehearsal days, making sure to adjust the script to fit the hosts’ and production needs.
A week before the broadcast, we all learned that there would be a new twist to the 2017 broadcast: Google VR! Since 2015, virtual reality has built its online presence, with VR video becoming a popular way to experience experiences from sporting events to concerts and even tourist experiences. Recently, Google introduced a new video format called VR180, which focuses on high resolution for both mobile and desktop viewing. As the platform is still fresh to the market, Google is looking to showcase virtual reality in new ways. The Teen Choice Awards Blue Carpet always tries to stay on the cutting edge to line up with their young audience. Realistically, it was a perfect fit between VR and Teen Choice!
With the VR filming being such a new format, everyone on-set had to stay flexible and quick-thinking to accommodate. We wrote the main script for the show, which included an opening exchange between the two hosts, pre-recorded segments for TV stars and our hosts, and the overall flow of the hour-long live broadcast. One of the segments was a written monologue for eight-year-old star of the The Mick, Jack Stanton. Pitting him as the “resident teen correspondent,” we worked with FOX’s team to come up with a concept that would help him stand out from the usual interviews while still tapping into the exciting present
In the Summer of 2017, Brave New Media partnered with 2x NBA Champion and Finals MVP. The ask was to help launch the basketball phenom’s YouTube channel, produced in part with KD’s company, 35 Ventures and live entertainment production company Six Degrees. To deliver, BNM directed and produced a YouTube livestream with that blended PR, social and digital, with virtual reality and live audience interaction.
By mastering new broadcast technologies and harnessing the power of social media, the result was an immersive and entertaining session that made fans feel as though they were hanging out with KD himself— even if they were only in their own living rooms.
35 Ventures is the vehicle Kevin Durant and Rich Kleinman founded in 2016 to house their portfolio of investments across entertainment, tech, sports, culture and more. Six Degrees is a tech-centered live entertainment company who specialize in augmented and virtual reality technologies.
Kevin Durant launched his in the spring of ’17, joining the ranks of only nine professional athletes who’ve ever opted to share their personal lives through personal vlogs. Why get so personal with fans? Because all athletes should be empowered to express themselves without intermediaries, and to be known for what they bring to the community and the culture as well as the sport. Echoing the precedent set by athletes like Lebron James, Colin Kaepernick, and Megan Rapinoe Kevin Durant decided it was time to tell his own story and to control his own narrative through branded entertainment.
With Kevin Durant’s star power, a full crew, a handful of top YouTube creators, and product partnerships with both Google and bringing the heat, a lack of content was certainly not a problem with this broadcast.
What was a challenge, was bringing such a massive event with many players, segments and business owners together in a streamlined and cohesive production plan. There was also the challenge of mastering new technology in a short amount of time. Brave New Media’s experience with live events, live broadcasts, and real-time problem-solving were tapped to ensure KD’s first foray into livestreaming a full-court pass.
To strengthen the broadcast, Brave New Media came in with a detailed show flow and a full CTA plan. A clear hierarchy of needs and excellent communication were all added to keep the event organized and on-message. With Damian Petrou directing and Stephen Cashmere producing, the team rehearsed and perfected Kevin Durant’s segment for maximum impact and on-air excellence. This was a complex broadcast with many brands to appease creatively, so the Brave New Media team needed to master the cutting-edge technology of YouTube livestreams and while ensuring every guest segment received equal clout.
With limited time, Brave New Media found a way to be expedient and efficient. Arriving a day in advance to host production meetings, scripting sessions, talent walk-throughs and tech rehearsals, the focus was on prep work and excellent production quality. The first half of shoot day was dedicated to working one-on-one with each content creator to rehearse their segments prior to going live at exactly 3pm PST. While the time schedule was tight and finely-tuned, it also left margin for a comfortable pace, with time for cast and crew prep, client debriefs, pre-broadcast huddles and dedicated time for KD to prepare his energy prior to going on-air.
The top-tier members of the YouTube creator class who were invited to KD’s livestream have over 49.5 million subscribers, bringing more eyeballs to KD’s new YouTube channel. Clear segments with each guest made the 45-minute long live broadcast into something that could be edited for targeted distribution across YouTube long after the live session ended.
Included in KD’s YouTube live were:
The result was an exponential increase in engagement rate and follower count for Kevin Durant’s new YouTube channel, with over 250,000 views and 500 unique viewer comments from a single 40-minute broadcast alone. The power of this single broadcast was able to be used and and and for the benefit of KD’s digital platform.
In the final moments of the livestream, with KD eating the last of his ten spicy wings covered in sauces upwards of two million Scoville points, Sean Evans proposed the following question:
“I know that you’re not shy about your criticisms of the media, be it ESPN’s bummy new segment, or what have you. So I wonder, what do the ESPN’s of the world, the Bleacher Reports of the world, get wrong about KD?”
“Well, first of all they don’t let me create my own content, they don’t let me tell my own story, so how can they tell my story without even talking to me? Two: that’s why I’m on YouTube. I get to tell my own story and it’s told by me, the person who actually went through it.”
And KD certainly has a story worth telling. Born outside of the nation’s capital to his beloved mother Wanda and raised on street ball, KD has gone on to become one of the most successful, accomplished, and popular players in the league. An exceptional athlete and maverick businessman and investor, KD is also known for his philanthropy. In 2013, Durant gave $1 million dollars to victims of the devastating 2013 Moore Tornado. In 2020, as a response to the deleterious effects of the coronavirus pandemic on children’s mental and physical health in urban communities, Durant partnered with Degree to donate $1 million to #KeepKidsMoving in cities like Detroit, Chicago, New York and in his hometown: Seat Pleasant, Maryland.
The next generation of athletes will certainly take after KD’s example: empowered athletes and empowered members of the community, culture, and this country’s boardrooms.
The Brave New Media team is proud to have helped Kevin Durant with telling part of his story, and we can’t wait to see what other major moves are in store for the future of this phenom.
A TICKET TO COACHELLA BY GOOGLE
The mission came in the form of a VR channel. During the first weekend, Damian directed more than 24 hours of live music. Adding a new dimension of immersion, they incorporated live augmented reality for the first time, overlaying virtual objects timed with melodies using custom stitching servers — a ticket to Coachella without the desert heat.
While building the format and selecting the music presented between dozens of VR180 cameras, Damian, Stephen and Lara also produced original prerecorded content with influencers Lexie Jiaras and SuperDuperBrick — getting creative with two of the most vibrant young people in entertainment alone made this no routine broadcast marathon.
Google also provided tilt brush art by artist-in-residence Cesar Ortega, who drew gorgeous live impressions of the Coachella landscape — these designs were inserted into the video stream in VR180, along with the responsive augmented reality during performances.
This project pervaded a collective sense that Virtual Reality is here to stay. Coachella and YouTube/Google VR pulled out all the stops along with Vantage.tv bringing historic elements to life, including the launch of one rocket ship. We look forward to transporting viewers to more iconic experiences like Coachella stages in real time.
If you didn’t get a ticket or take the ride with us, you can enjoy some of the best experiences here.
Brave New Media was introduced to the MeetMo.io team back in July of 2020, at the height of the pandemic. At the time their video village platform was just starting to gain traction, they called it “Web Connected”. But let’s take a step back and go even further… Our long-time client FOX Entertainment Creative Services approached us with a problem. It was the peak of COVID, when everyone was stuck using virtual meeting software like Zoom or the other typical platforms that you sign onto. But as we learned (and know well by now), those platforms were and still are incredibly limiting. So Brave New Media was brought on to go bigger and better than ever before, with a new customizable platform. We knew that there was nothing like this available on the market, especially from a quality standpoint, so we rolled up ourselves and created it!
FOX wanted us to design a new streaming platform ahead of the curve, one that was distinctly theirs and offered better virtual capabilities. Going in, we knew from a quality standpoint, the video resolution would be the biggest hurdle. Platforms that were currently available would always go through some serious issues (regardless of users’ WiFi connection), like lagging and pixelation. Not to mention, offer little to no virtual capabilities for playback. The overall user experience in Apps or websites like Zoom were lacking too; they didn’t offer a branded, personalized look that was own-able or unique. That’s when we knew we needed to design and build something innovative and new. A welcoming virtual event space that was password protected, branded and offered better virtual video playback capabilities with dedicated reactive tech support on standby all rolled in one. A place where you felt like you were really part of a virtual presentation as a participant or viewer, free of audio gating and the ability to transition seamlessly to breakout rooms. This was the real game changer, so the BNM team got to work. It had been a few years since Brave New Media was in the product development space but as failure enthusiasts our intent was steadfast. By working hand and hand with the MeetMo development team, a creative technology bond was born. After months of victories and admittedly, some defeats, www.events.fox 1.0 was created. This new custom event platform based on the MeetMo.io technology is rooted in creative and friendly user experiences only Brave New Media can provide. A creative and technology solution was done, did and out the door.
MAIDEN FLIGHT AND GETTING STARTED…
We worked closely with MeetMo.io as they brought us on to produce a month full of live shows, in partnership with Hollywood’s iconic non-profit champion of images, Advanced Imaging Society (AIS). BNM acted as a correspondent between learning, optimizing, and executing the tech in real-time. The first BNM event on the MeetMo.io platform took place in September and it was for the AIS Remote Control with Jim Chabin and Buzz Hays. It was then followed by FOX’s Filthy Rich premiere screening for Talent & Publicity teams. Since then, we have gone on to use the platform for multiple successful events and TV press junkets, such as the Television Critics Association press days, and even video game release live streams, all with the optimizations and user experience we set out from the start; distinctly branded green rooms, exceptional video playback, and no audio gating for a uniquely brave, new, virtual media experience.
These events were such a success that we moved into phase 2. This conceptual phase involved looking for vendors, partners, and everything in
between, and through those experiences and incredible virtual activations, we were able to develop this product for FOX.
At our core, we’re creative problem solvers, so when we saw the need for a streaming platform that does it all, we worked long, hard and Brave to develop just that. With capabilities that had never been seen before, exceptional reactive strategies, and tech correspondents on standby to ensure a smooth event, BNM pushed Meetmo.io’s existing product into a brand-new space. We’re thrilled to have created such a successful product that has a legacy and we’re excited to be continuing the work on what the 2.0 version of that platform looks like as the first official reseller. Much more to come, so check back with us for more information on the MeetMo.io platform and www.events.fox 2.0!
Many a thousand heaps of artificial snow were sprayed on the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank for the most ambitious television event of the 2017 holiday season, A Christmas Story Live!
Hiring the most versatile talent with chops for Hollywood and Broadway comedy, they wanted an equally movable multi-platform campaign. FOX called in Brave New Media to write, produce and direct its digital campaign sponsored by Old Navy. Inspired by the 12 Days of Christmas carol, the team assembled to make 12 live spots featuring influencer Erin Robinson with the all star cast and creative minds behind A Christmas Story Live! With twelve days and counting before such a live TV musical entailing extraordinary timing of scenes and choreography, including a 300 page script under revisions, the pressure was palpable, so we set out to make the spots a fun experience.
First Old Navy needed interactive trivia questions to engage the fans in the spirit of giving and fashion. Damian and Aaron then wrote jingles for Erin to bravely sing live as a Christmas carol introduction for the interviews that put the guests at ease, asking questions they hadn’t been asked a thousand times in the press circuit while mustering excitement for the show.
Erin Robinson has a very bright future, holding her own with some of the brightest minds in entertainment today. The 12 live spots garnered a Webby Award nomination and a Leg Lamp Award from Jane Krakowski.
Earlier this year, the Brave New Media team was approached by the inspiring and accomplished soccer player and friend, Tony Sanneh of the Sanneh Foundation to breathe new life into the current training videos used in his coaching curriculum. Aside from his formidable playing career, Tony has been active in several community-based organizations and initiatives over the years focusing on diversity, equality and inclusion. Given our history and affiliation with Tony, and the Sanneh Foundation along with his concerns with the effectiveness of the older videos and continued issues faced within the league, we were more than happy to kick it off with a re-imagined and brave new look that inspires and sparks change within the community.
This collection of videos would be used to train the teams and arm their coaches with the tools to create a safe culture on and off pitch. Even though the content from the original videos were quite dated and disengaging, the issues unfortunately remained the same throughout the years. Our hope was that in sharing these resources and experiences through a new perspective we would be able to provide healthier environments for everyone involved. This opportunity to create change while addressing discrimination issues within the MLS was one that resonated with us on a deeper level. These were not just going to be any coaching videos, but ones that focused on creating positive change, an important pillar that we focus on here at Brave New Media.
We worked closely with the MLS Next team and key stakeholders to understand and target the concerns that needed to be addressed, while creating new scripts that were enhanced, engaging and impactful. We started off by casting real kids but professional actors within the local community to add authenticity to the videos. We purposely chose this juxtaposition to create an interesting dynamic between kids who experienced discrimination first hand, and actors hired to play the part.
We then focused on building a new narrative that would achieve all of these directives and objectives. This was quite the balancing act, but in our brave new way we collaboratively put our heads together between creative and production teams, to tell a new story.
In the end, we have these fresh new videos to look forward to along with a chance to make a difference that matters while setting a standard that touches everyone involved in MLS. As we continue to grow with the well being sports brand, we’re facilitating a future filled with great storytelling and educational videos built around a curriculum, and that’s exciting.
Minnesota can lay claim to a team in all six major sports leagues in the United States. The newest of the bunch is Minnesota United FC, who joined Major League Soccer for the 2017 season. “The Loons” are one of the hottest tickets in town, known for a lively game and a great crowd atmosphere. As recently as 2012, however, professional soccer in Minnesota was on life support. Check out how Brave New Media helped grow the beautiful game in our great state.
Professional soccer in Minnesota dates back to the 1970s, when the Kicks played host to some of the biggest stars in the world. Kicks games would draw around 23,000 fans a game at the old Metropolitan Stadium, with their attendance peaking at 32,775. A few other iterations tried to capture this excitement, to middling results. When the North American Soccer League (NASL) was founded in 2011, they wanted a team in Minnesota. However, the NSC Minnesota Stars were owned by the league, and the whole project didn’t look sustainable.
The Stars’ coach at the time, Manny Lagos, is a friend of BNM partner and video producer Damian Petrou. The two spoke at an event in 2011 and decided to start a marketing partnership between Brave New Media and the Stars. We agreed to support all marketing activities on a pro-bono basis until the team found a new owner. The first year deployed a campaign called “Shine On.” We handled design and development of a new website for the Stars. The partnership included coordinating photography and video at every match, enhanced creative for social media channels, and making new sponsorship decks and marketing materials. This gave a full season’s worth of content, for web, social and game day!
While 2011 gave a solid footing, 2012 required another step up. We deemed 2012 “The Year of the Fan.” This included contests on Twitter to increase engagement, challenging fans to introduce new faces to the team via Facebook, creating Match Day Moments, and providing new content via web, email, and social media channels. All of this was done to increase attendance, sponsorship, merchandise sales, and an online presence. During the Year of the Fan, Dr. Bill McGuire attended a few games. At the end of the year, he purchased the team, giving stability to the Stars!
With a rebrand to Minnesota United, there were new marketing challenges to overcome. Brave New Media was chosen to design and build the new club website using the sharp visual design from Zeus Jones. We also produced and managed all print ads, radio ads, and videos for the club.
At the heart of our work with Minnesota United, we came up with the 2014 season marketing campaign: The Summer of Soccer. With a World Cup scheduled that summer, BNM helped Minnesota United increase their footprint across the Twin Cities. A pair of marquee matches against international teams helped draw new faces and larger crowds to Minnesota United matches. Brave New Media created print ads, TV spots, radio ads, digital ads, social media contests, and soccer events to further the reach.
The results of this partnership were very apparent. In 2011, Minnesota’s average attendance was only 400 per match. By the end of 2014, that figure skyrocketed to over 6,000 per match! Even sweeter, Minnesota United was selected as an MLS expansion team in early 2015. For a team that seemed close to folding in 2012, the move to MLS gave United – and Minnesota soccer as a whole – some long overdue stability! We’re proud to have partnered with our friends at Minnesota United, and can’t wait to see what the future of soccer in this state holds.
It all started with TV Academy creative consultant, Neal Roscoe, hiring Brave New Media (BNM) to create an historic website for the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards.
With 12 years’ experience on the Emmy Awards Neal knew this was a unique year filled with large challenges. COVID-19 prevented the press from interviewing the Emmy winners face-to-face. Roscoe and his partner, US-based Creative Technology (CT), a global supplier of audiovisual high-tech, created the concept of a Virtual Media Center, where viewers could not only follow the winners in real-time as they were interviewed and received their prizes, but could also download content minutes after the event. CBS and Television Academy, hosts of the 73rd Emmys, approved the idea, and so BNM, veteran digital and live-events production company, was chosen to transform that vision into reality.
Only CBS and Television Academy publicists could escort Emmy winners to the Media Center for trophy pickup, photos and interviews. The general press was disallowed. In order to duplicate the experience of being in person, BNM developed a web portal that integrated with the Emmys’ General Press Room, so that interviews broadcast by CT could be followed live by the press.
“The moment a winner was announced,” BNM’s founder Damian Petrou elaborated, “we had to update the website in real-time with the backstage press interviews and transcripts. The CBS network had never done anything like this. Actually, this particular immersive press experience was a first for the industry as a whole.”
On top of that, BNM had to engineer a distribution solution for press all over the world to access the backstage interview clips.
“We integrated a Dropbox API with Vimeo for the press to download and post clips to social media twenty minutes after we’d uploaded the clips of the winners’ interviews.” Stephen Cashmere, BNM Producer, explained. “So, say, there was the Ted Lasso clip where cast and crew did the Roy Kent cheer backstage, that clip was on our website within fifteen minutes of it happening. We made the website as user-friendly as possible for a tech-challenged press to use. Making these clips ready for a sharable audience in the social media ether.”
The 73rd Emmys was also more complex than their previous TV experiences, in that BNM was faced with new challenges.
According to Stephen, “Even though we had everything down pat from other virutal events: customer support functionalities, logins, how to hire and train backup crew/staff – the entire virtual user experience, and we’d worked with CBS on the 2017 Emmys, this was a whole new immersive talent and press experience, while under very strict COVID protocol.”
As the Media Center Director Damian Petrou directed and coordinated the physical and digital activities of broadcast and programming personnel. BNM producer Stephen Cashmere and his BNM Web Development Team, Johanna Ruiz and Amber Sjomeling, built the portal that integrated with the CBS media center. This included embedding plug-ins for the press to sign a virtual clip agreement, integrating password management features, incorporating interactive capabilities for the press to interview Emmy winners, downloading the clips of winner interviews in the EVS General Press, and adding a resource center with transcripts and real-time updates of winners, among other items.
Website designer and Art Director Zac Good incorporated CBS/TV Academy design ideas for inspiration.
“This was my tenth year working with the Emmys, so it was exciting to participate … and always cool to see how the show has evolved over the years,” Stephen enthused. “I worked on this event before streaming platforms had ever been nominated. And now we are creating tech that is becoming a precedent for future award shows. I felt honored to collaborate with the TV Academy, Neal Roscoe, and CBS to participate in creating this historical and thrilling milestone for such an important event.”
“Our clip was trending earlier this morning around the globe. It was a team effort to make sure this was possible. Great calls were made to take the return feed off the LED, going for a wider lens, and the EVS/Dropbox integration worked seamlessly. So much to be proud of and this clip represents how it all came together in one shiny moment.”
“I think it all came down to.’’ Stephen reflected, “Our synthesis of tangible and intangible connections… We harnessed the tangible assets of our talents and experience in design, content, and technology with the intangibles of dedication, passion, and existing connections. We used all our tools at our disposal – web design, UX/UI, product development – all those hard skills and merged them with the intangibles. The synthesis pushed us over the edge.”
For Neal, the success of the project frittered down to two assets: A seasoned team and simply #BeingBrave.
“Our biggest relief,” he divulged, “was being able to rely on the BNM team that it could manage the entire range of components from audiovisual to PR, design changes, technical issues and so forth… Having worked with Stephen, Damian, and the Brave New Media team on many Emmys, I’d say it was their institutional knowledge that helped CBS and Television Academy help the public and the press enjoy the Emmys remotely without missing a beat.”
In 2005, Dan Buettner published something profound: the simple secrets of longevity from the world’s most spirited centenarians. Running in National Geographic’s November issue, his findings on how the world’s oldest people were living well into their 100th year sparked a national fascination. Any American looking to add more years to their life—or more life to their years—was immediately intrigued. He didn’t know it at the time, but Dan Buettner was now to task on the assignment of his life. With the question of what it meant to live a good life at the center of his quest, the Blue Zones® was born.
THE BLUE ZONES QUEST
Brave New Media’s partnership with Dan Buettner and his Blue Zones began in 2003. Already an established writer, known for his long-distance bike treks and bylines, Buettner had become interested in the subject of longevity. Why were some individuals in certain parts of the world living far better—and far longer—than others? From his travels, he had a hunch that one’s environment could play an outsize role on collective and individual health. Buettner was curious. And he had a hunch he wasn’t the only one who’d be interested in the answers.
Buettner decided to explore these corners of the world to discover the common lifestyle factors linked to longevity. His hope? That by studying the Blue Zones and understanding their common themes he’d be able to reverse-engineer health outcomes for audiences back in the States. Buettner pitched his idea and got the green light from both National Geographic and the University of Minnesota’s Center on Aging. And armed with a grant from Washington D.C., Buettner and his team of historians, dieticians and geneticists set out to discover the secrets of the world’s Blue Zones.
In addition to scientists and researchers, Buettner needed storytellers.
National Geographic required video content from the field for their website and other news outlets. And Buettner needed storytelling and editing talent for his project Classroom Connect. Back in 2003, mobile video was still emerging. An ability to grasp the technical requirements of video production from some of the most remote corners of the world was an absolute must. From a temperamental perspective, Buettner needed a partner with an adventurous attitude, a tenacious spirit and total bravery. On the soft-skills side of things, speaking Greek and riding a bicycle were also on the requirements list. That’s where Brave New Media came in. Check, check, and check.
Beaming content back to the United States via satellite, carting A/V equipment in challenging terrain, and dealing with major time zone differences meant the team often found themselves in unique situations. On one occasion, Buettner woke to discover Damian Petrou still awake from the night prior—editing video footage on the jungle floor. While at times the remote locales were a constraint, they were also a grand adventure—a chance to push the limits of production and get comfortable with new methods of streaming, editing, and broadcasting.
Soon after the publication of his findings, Buettner became a thought leader in the health and wellness space. Invited to give a talk on his research in the fall of 2009 at TEDxTwinCities, Buettner suddenly needed a stunning presentation to support his on-stage speech. For his debut onto the international speaking circuit, Brave New Media partnered with the Blue Zones team to create a visual-first presentation. Filled with immersive photography that kept the focus on Buettner’s powerful message—and not on slides, the Brave New Media team created graphics that simplified the datasets into a compelling story with a clear narrative arc. Titled ‘How to Live to Be 100+’, the presentation now has over 4 million views on the TED Talks website.
In 2010, Buettner launched The Blue Zones Project®. Created ‘to make the healthy choice the easy choice’, this new subsidiary of the brand partnered with both civic leaders and health insurance companies to bring healthier lifestyle habits to communities across the United States.
Brave New Media provided Buettner with video production, editing, and storytelling services when the prairie city of Albert Lea, Minnesota was selected as a Blue Zones project city in 2010. To support the launch, the team created engaging video storytelling to showcase Albert Lea’s civic transformation. Visiting the town a total of twelve times in the same year, the experience of the town’s transformation was seen in realtime and captured on camera— a powerful reminder of the impact our environments have on individual and collective health. In recognition of their work, Brave New Media won a Webby Award in partnership with AARP for general website category, health, and wellness.
As the Blue Zones brand grew, the website needed to scale too. But bringing decades worth of content into one hub was a big undertaking. Visually, the brand was known for stunning imagery and National Geographic-quality photography. Brave New Media needed to allow the power of these images to speak for themselves, while also providing enough way-finding elements and content blocks for users to easily navigate the site and digest the content.
To solve these needs, Brave New Media relied on their 20+ years of web development expertise to develop a centralized content hub. Opening to full-bleed imagery and a scrolling index, the site keeps the visual ethos of the brand while offering viewers an extensive navigation menu that otherwise remains completely hidden until clicked. Over the years, as Buettner has launched products as diverse as cookbooks and coffee beans, the team has found inventive and compelling ways to showcase the entire scope of the brand across mobile and digital without compromising on design or depth of content.