IBM is pioneering sensors that monitor seniors’ homes in real time—temperature, carbon dioxide levels and much more—and send the data to city workers, who can dispatch friends, family or emergency personnel as needed. This remote solution can keep a town’s social-services costs down as its population ages. IBM tested the system in Bolzano, Italy, and had a great story to tell—one that stretched beyond a TV spot.
Article by Tim Nudd
Through an extensive collaboration with Ogilvy (and its branded-content arm OgilvyEntertainment), StudioNow, director Lily Henderson and The Huffington Post, IBM produced a poignant four-minute documentary about the Bolzano trial. “Short-form film, or long-form content, really lets you open up a topic,” said OgilvyEntertainment president Doug Scott. “You’re not constrained by media time. A storyteller can truly allow the topic, the character and the story to give a full view of what the brand is trying to convey.”
Henderson said preparation was key to getting the film’s balance right. “The interesting challenge in doing these ad-doc films is that you are trying to accurately convey a story about a person and a story about a company, maintain an emotional draw while also giving accurate information, all within a short amount of time,” she said. “It was important to be as thorough as possible in the pre-production phase—creating a rough storyboard, shot list and treatment based off the pre-interviews with the documentary subjects. This close preparation allowed the cinematographer Ed David and I to approach the project almost like a narrative. We allowed the spontaneity of documentary to come forth, but we also had a clear plan on the story flow and key visual elements.”
Zita was part of the first phase of the IBM project in Bolzano. She “turned out to be a dynamo—a fantastic point of focus and lens for the project,” said Ben Tyson, executive producer at StudioNow, the formerly AOL-owned production company that works on many AOL and HuffPo online video projects. “Humanizing these types of branded documentary stories is the single most important path to creating a great piece of content,” he added. “The human subjects become part of the focus alongside the technology and brand. So we were thrilled that Zita, with some coaching, was exceptional on camera.”