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Client Spotlight | American Girl

Encouraging thousands of kids each day to let their individuality shine through play, no brand is more focused on empowerment than American Girl. After collaborating with their creative team to develop a series of traditional promotional videos, the perfect opportunity to incorporate cutting-edge 360 Video sprouted when they reached out to Bottle Rocket media to create guided tours of its New York and Chicago locations.

Since its start in 1986, American Girl has developed into one of the most popular doll purveyors in the country, with roughly 20 major retail stores that also serve as restaurants, party hosts, and play centers. With so much going on at each spot – including stations where kids AND their dolls can receive makeovers and ear piercings –it was the perfect opportunity to utilize 360 video to create a fully immersive experience for viewers.

According to Bottle Rocket Media co-founder, Brett Singer, a successful run with American Girl on past productions was enough to set the stage for the use of 360 video: “We had worked with [American Girl] on many other promo videos, and fortified a wonderful working relationship,” he says. “As a result, the brand’s creative team approached us to produce 360 VR store tours with accompanying motion graphics to help guide the viewer throughout the experience.”

Not every client Bottle Rocket Media comes across can expertly dialogue about the latest in media techniques – however, as Singer implies, it certainly helps. “It should come as no surprise that American Girl is a very forward-thinking company, and early to embrace new technologies – including both 360 video and AR (augmented reality). Loaded with creative talent, including an in-house design team, we were seamlessly provided with brand-specific graphics, and new ones created just for the videos. Working with them is always a pleasure, as they come to each project as a partner. No one knows the subject matter better, so it’s a no-brainer for us to welcome them into the process.”

Project Shout-Out: A 360 Video Tour of Chicago’s American Girl Store

Brett and Dan discuss why this was the perfect project for 360 video production

Think back to when you were a kid. Going to the toy store was the pinnacle of your life–not really, but remember, you were seven. Now imagine feeling that same way about a store just by experiencing it through 360-degree video. That’s exactly what we set out to do when we teamed up with the American Girl store on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Before we even start, we’d like to give a special shout-out to the incredible American Girl team. They’re making the dreams of little girls all over the country come true every day, and it was so inspiring to be on set with them for this project.

American Girl store Q&A with Dan Fisher and Brett Singer

What was the vision and inspiration behind this video?

Our vision, whenever we work with 360 video production, is to create an experience that immerses the audience and takes them to a place they might not normally get to go. Our goal with the American Girl tour was to show young girls the awesomeness of the space, how much there is for them to see and do when they get there, and ultimately get them to visit the store itself.

What elements contributed to the effectiveness of the storytelling?

We take the same approach to 360 videos as we do any video we create. We focus on the story, what the viewer will experience, and how we want them to feel at the end. Once we establish those elements, we put the wheels in motion and bring it all together with the help of camera placement and composition, voice-over, thoughtful music, authentic interviews, and graphics.

How do you think filming in 360 helped capture the brand’s unique elements?

The American Girl tour was all about showing the complete store experience. It’s not just a place to go and buy dolls – they also have books and videos, a restaurant, and a hair salon. You can even create your own custom clothing for your doll and then buy the matching outfit for your little girls. That whole experience just can’t be captured watching a video through a little window. It’s only when you’re standing in that store that you really get a sense of the community their brand has created.

Did any obstacles come up while making this video? If so, how did you work around them?

The biggest thing we had to be mindful of throughout this shoot was the fact that we were filming in a store during regular business hours. When you’re filming in 360, you are essentially filming everyone, so we had to be sensitive to our surroundings, who we were shooting, and when. Of course, we can edit people out in post-production, but we still wanted to do our best not to disturb the store’s operations.

What was your favorite part of the project, and why?

We love collaborating with smart, creative people who want to tell a story with video. The best part about this project by far was partnering with the creative geniuses at American Girl. They came to the table with their own vision, and we got to help figure out the logistics of how to make it all come together. It doesn’t get much better than that!

If you’re interested in 360 videos for your brand, we’d love to show you the ropes. Here’s some more work we’ve done with 360 video production. Take a look, and then give us a call when you’re ready to get started.