I often say in talks and articles that content is king, creative is queen. In other words, if you’re going to produce an exceptional product, you must bring your creative department into the process from the beginning. With that in mind, here’s the story behind Intel’s the Museum of Me.

The spark

Stephanie Gan, Intel’s Asia-Pacific Advertising Manager based in Hong Kong, still remembers the first time she spotted a campaign created by Projector — a boutique agency located in Tokyo, Japan — for Uniqlo, the leading Japanese casual wear retail chain. The visuals and story emotionally connected her to the product and made a lasting impression. She made a mental note to pay this agency a visit next time she was in Tokyo to see how it could help with an upcoming project.

After a draining two-day planning meeting in Tokyo, Stephanie finally met Projector’s founder, Tanaka-san, in the hotel lobby. He greeted Stephanie in English despite some obvious discomfort with the language. Stephanie wanted to create “something innovative” that would convey the essence of the tagline, “Visibly Smart” for Intel’s latest product line, the second-generation Intel Core Processor family.

Stephanie’s brief focused on conveying the concept, “Visibly Smart Performance for Your Visual Life.” The gist was that through visual experiences we define who we are, and a second-generation Intel Core processor with its combination of smart performance and stunning, seamless visuals is the perfect engine for expressing and sharing your visual life. Stephanie also made it very clear she needed to deliver the “unexpected” and create a “Wow!” reaction. That brief, in essence, was the King. The Queen’s job (in this case, Projector) became how to make this happen.

One month after receiving the brief, Tanaka-san presented several creative ideas to Stephanie, whose heart immediately connected with the Museum of Me concept.

The rough creative concept was to pull information from a consumer’s Facebook page to create a virtual museum of his or her digital life. Photos, videos, and friends were presented as pieces of art, displayed randomly as if in a museum or art gallery. This concept reflected the spirit of the brief that Stephanie had shared with Projector: “Create a personal and emotional connection with people through a seamless visual experience for your visual life.”

The obstacles

The right concept was just the beginning. The next six months was a heart-wrenching experience for both the agency and Stephanie’s team. To bring the creative concept to life, Projector and Intel had to overcome cultural differences, language barriers, creative disagreements, and geographic challenges.

Creative is an interesting monster. A story can be told from different angles, and there is no right or wrong answer. Every creative decision requires multiple rounds of discussion — the music selection, the flow of storytelling, how it should begin and end, even the simple selection of background color. Both Projector’s and Stephanie’s teams had zealous passion and strong opinions about creative and story development, and these were not always in sync.

The two teams ran into a lot of impasses, debating on communication styles and creative expressions. At times, Stephanie thought this project would never end well. Eventually, however, they learned to see and respect each other’s points of view and found a way to partner together as a team.

With the groundwork for the project laid out, Stephanie’s team performed a pilot test on May 31, 2011, the day before the launch. Within 5 minutes, the page had gotten 36 likes. From there, word spread quickly with the first tweet coming from Madrid. Within 5 days, there were 1 million hits — accomplished without any paid-media promotion. The Museum of Me app captured the attention of 2.5 million people and became the most popular viral video Intel had ever created.

Both Stephanie and Projector were blown away by the overwhelming success.

How they reached a resolution

Just as every project, good or bad, should be evaluated afterwards for lessons learned, Stephanie analyzed the differences in the process for Museum of Me and the keys to its success.

  • Brief the agency WELL. She ensured the agency understood the essence of the underlying message that Intel wished to convey, not just the product benefits and key messaging.
  • Be bold and get fresh perspective. Stephanie made a bold move by working with a new agency — an agency in another country with a different outlook and traditions. Through their unique cultural lens, the team came up with new interpretations of the concept, “Visibly Smart Performance for your Visual Life.”
  • Be open and direct on communications. Both Intel and Projector had strong visions and opinions on creative and production. The key to coming to a consensus was conversing openly and honestly to work through the conflicts and to respect each other’s passion to make it even better. Both sides committed to listen to the other’s approach. When an impasse was reached, they cleared their minds and focused on the best solution with the consumer in mind.

Stephanie is already pursuing her next the King and Queen. Stay tuned.