Advertising gets into the act at CIMMfest Saturday

John Heinsen, CEO of Bunnygraph Entertainment

For the first time, CIMMfest is appealing to the advertising industry by featuring a panel directed weekend’s CIMMfest.  Its May 3 CIMMCon panel features “How to Tell Stories across Platforms in the Social Era, Transmedia Storytelling and Brands: Where Media dollars are Moving,” aimed at helping agencies’ transitions.

One of the panelists is Chicago native John Heinsen, a Hollywood-based multi-platform producer and digital entertainment authority, CEO of Bunnygraph Entertainment, who calls transmedia “a revolution in the making.”

How are you bridging your Chicago experience with your Hollywood experience?

Having grown up in Sauganash, I very much have the local sensibility, although I’ve worked in Hollywood for 20 years and understand how it operates.

In 2005, I felt there was an opportunity to bring my experience in network television (Fox, Disney ABC) back to Chicago and be a part of the evolution of branded content, from the agency side.

I felt that brands would be a big part of the future of content, in an immature space. 

It was always a good idea and the talent was there, in Hollywood, until the opportunity came full circle. Now the talent is very much here, in Chicago.

How has your experience changed since then?

People like myself, looking at video in mobile in 2005, felt that original content in the mobile space was the way to build the audience in an immature space. 

In 2008, “made for mobile” was essentially dead. A few years later the “transmedia space” emerged as the new frontier.

What’s the current model?  

“Content everywhere.”  That’s because people have smart TVs and iPads and they meld into one. Location-based content is a huge thing – Google knows where I’m at all times.  Smart ads have figured out how to get you what you want.

Everybody is trying to figure it out. But there’s currently no standard for delivery, content, technology or distribution.

Why was the Obama Hope campaign so important?

Because it was a game changer. Obama, as a brand, used digital, specifically mobile, as a new tool to reach his audience. This empowered his followers to build his message into one of HOPE.

How does the storytelling evolve?

Now, through the content the brands create, they can collect data, gauge your level of engagement and tell stories. Sometimes the stories are about people who engage in the brand and how it impacts society and culture.

With doing things for the social good, the opportunity is growing every day, for all ages.   When ad agencies finally realize that the model has shifted, that’s when they will start shifting the balance of funding toward more digital.  

What do you think about CIMMfest overall?

It’s very established. They’ve done a great job tapping Chicago into the music and film scene.  Here’s a great opportunity to work off that great model of SXSW, in Chicago.

In Austin there’s a great tech base; in Chicago we have the brands. It’s a great time to connect these worlds and CIMMfest is going to do that.

The panel: Heinsen is joined by Miguel Gonzales, strategy director, Havas Worldwide Chicago; Ralph Covert, Waterdog Music and Mitch Apley, director of broadcast production, Abelson-Taylor.  Moderator is technology guru Brian Gratch, founder of Sixteen/30, one of the US’ premiere mobile marketing firms.

The free panel takes place Saturday, at 1st Ward, 11 a.m. 

Carey Lundin is the director and co-producer of Jens Jensen The Living Green