Promoting Snowden with Motion Tracking Surveillance Campaign


Elevation Pictures, DenstuBos, and Cieslok Media created a unique Digital Out-of-Home campaign embodying the essence of Oliver Stone’s Snowden. Equipped with a motion tracking surveillance camera, Cieslok Media’s premium digital display was able to track and live stream footage of unsuspecting pedestrians at the popular visitor destination known as Yonge-Dundas Square.

Nominating Company: Cieslok Media, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Venue: Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Project: Digital Outdoor Advertising with Object Recognition: Snowden
Category: Public Spaces

In June 2013, the world learned about classified government information leaked by Edward Snowden, causing people to ask, “How private is our privacy?” Placing that question front and center on mass media is Oliver Stone and Elevation Pictures’ movie, Snowden.

To promote the movie, Media group Dentsu Aegis, creative agency DenstuBos and the Premium OOH advertising company Cieslok Media collaborated on an OOH execution. Choosing the downtown Toronto hub Yonge­Dundas Square, the collaborators created a glimpse of the reality revealed in the movie; the uncomfortable experience of being watched and tracked without knowledge or permission.

Snowden premiered during the famous Toronto International Film Festival, one of the largest publicly attended film festivals in the world. The movie, based on the highly publicized story of Edward Snowden, would face the challenge of creating buzz while vying for the attention of the 400,000+ festival attendees.

In order to truly be unique, it was important that the movie’s Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) campaign be brought to life to elicit feelings unlike any other movie promotion. Cieslok Media and its collaborators had to define the controversial line between entertainment and intrusiveness, and balance the execution on that fine line. This included determining how much to focus on an individual, how long to track and what information to overlay on the footage without terrifying the general public and instead creating interest for the movie.

Promoting Snowden with Motion Tracking Surveillance CampaignSOLUTIONS
The execution required real-time video streaming onto our digital display at the Square. The camera was programmed for three modes, stimulating different object recognition and tracking. To not be intrusive, special consideration was given to zooming in on groups of people and keeping reasonable distance.

During peak hours, the camera was on auto-tracking mode, picking the most prominent moving objects. The streets around the Square were blocked out to avoid tracking vehicles. To achieve further accuracy, the size of the tracking object was configured to be comparable to the size of a person.

Outside of peak hours, a series of certain camera positions were pre-set to attempt motion detection. Throughout the night, the camera imitated searching for moving objects. Scala Designer software connected our technology and digital display. In addition to the focus and tracking, we scripted creative elements over the live stream, creating the look of a surveillance camera.

The execution was noticed by audiences at the Square and local news outlets and went on to garner media attention from publications like Globe and Mail, Ad Week, and Marketing Mag. The attention created interest and drove Toronto box office results for Elevation Pictures. Toronto came in as the fourth highest grossing city in North America for Snowden, well above its average eighth ranking for all other Elevation Pictures films.

Most importantly, it achieved the goal of creating awareness about privacy concerns.

“It makes you realize that cameras could be anywhere and people could be watching and recording me, and I wouldn’t know it. I’m not entirely caught up with the Snowden story, but I know he advocates for privacy … it was perfect,” stated a visitor at the Square to the Globe and Mail. The campaign succeeded in creating the uncomfortable feeling of being watched, which I is the essence of the Snowden movie.

Elevation Pictures


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