3D marketing in motion

October 6th, 2009 by Mark Thompson

As we all know, Madison Avenue and their international counterparts got hideously drunk on the coincidental cocktail of Mentos and Diet Coke, and marketing departments around the world have been trying to bottle that sensation and sell it to YouTubers ever since.

Some companies have simply capitalized on the organically grown fan love. Others have promised fame and fortune to tomorrow’s consumer-media stars, or even going so far as tutoring  would-be viral videomakers. But one fool-proof way to create buzz is to provide a prefab scenario starring you, the loyal consumer. Only need photo; no creativity required.

Take OfficeMax, which nailed it last holiday season with its Elf Yourself campaign, by teaming up with JibJab, makers of fine cheeky greeting cards for the YT generation.

But when it comes to generating a true wow factor, Japan’s Motion Portrait might have an edge over other cut-n-paste photo labs. As predicted on Pink Tentacle two years ago, Motion Portrait was seen a killer app for 3D-enhanced games, sites and services.

In short, the Motion Portrait engine can take a 2D  photo and quickly modify it into a spookily convincing 3D simulation, with a  frightening range of facial expressions. While it’s been employed in anime (see “The Promise of Suzumiya Haruhi“), picked up a tech award at the Cannes Lions ad fest, and produced a twee iPhone app called Brain Controller, it wasn’t until the past year or so that Motion Portrait wizardry started really blossoming in the marketplace.

On the utilitarian end of the spectrum, Motion Portrait is now powering several try-before-you-by simulators.  Need to see how you’d look in a pair of new frames? Upload your photo at and road-test them MeganeSupaa simulator. Contemplating a hair implant? Try it on for size at Aderans’ Hair Try.

And naturally, Motion Portrait has become the dream toy of viral marketers. It’s currently behind DIY flights of fancy for Intel (be a corporate geek rock star!) and Coca-Cola Zero (buff up as Hidetoshi Nakata!). But our favorite so far is the one for Fog Bar, Uno’s curiously named line of men’s hair products. At the campaign site, simply select a commercial (このCMに出 演), upload a pic and in about 30 seconds, you’ll get a preview of yourself starring in one of Fogbar’s ads. After that, hit the CMデビュ (commerial debut) button, plug in your e-mail address and eventually you’ll get access to a gallery of 7 different versions that you can share on YouTube or mail to unsuspecting friends and family.

OK, so the results are kinda creepy. But get used it. We’re going to be seeing a lot more of this.

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