A+E Networks Wants to Show You Storytelling Across America With This Powerful Interactive Film

'Look Closer: Across America' puts stories at the center

In an interactive new campaign, A+E Networks urges viewers to look more closely at their fellow citizens. A+E Networks
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A+E is celebrating the stories you can find across the United States if you just take the time to look for them. The network spent time filming all over the country to create this gorgeous new interactive film, which allows viewers to click through and see different perspectives.

The interactive spot is part of the network’s “Brave Storytellers” campaign, which launches today. It was co-produced by A+E and Samsung, in collaboration with creative agency Sunshine and interactive platform EKO Studio. In it, viewers can hear a poem that poet IN-Q wrote specifically for this campaign, narrated either by him or by Jhené Aiko, a singer-songwriter, as footage from across America is shown.

While the film, Look Closer: Across America, is 90 seconds, you won’t be able to see all the perspectives and stories unless you click through and choose different options each time.

Throughout the film, viewers can click on keywords as they pop up to hear more about those topics from the speaker. There’s also an opportunity for viewers to hear from Americans that the A+E team spoke with during their multiweek trip across the country.

“What we suffer from currently across our society is the feeling that we don’t belong to the camps we say we belong to,” said A+E CMO Amanda Hill. “We just know what we don’t agree with from the other camps. This video series gives people a chance to fight against the monster of prejudice and the chance to make a connection they otherwise wouldn’t take time to understand.”

With this initial “chapter,” A+E is highlighting how brave storytellers are all around us by expanding beyond the talent of their nonfiction shows like Live PD and Leah Remini: Scientology the Aftermath.

By using EKO’s interactive element, viewers can customize their experience and find new ways to engage with the stories. EKO sees retention rates of 200 percent to 300 percent, and viewers share their videos at a rate eight times higher than non-interactive videos; about 70 percent of people react to the prompts in the videos.

For Hill, she sees this campaign as a way to reach new viewers of A+E because she understands the needs of the current audience.

“We’re not targeting a demographic, but we’re reaching out to a belief system,” she said. “They have a low tolerance of bullshit, and we want to show people real, meaningful stories.”

The chapters of this campaign were shot like an editorial documentary, despite all teams coming together to produce it far faster than previous efforts. With no time for set contracts, filming teams “just got in a car to drive across America for a few weeks and didn’t stage anything.” Samsung, she said, agreed to work on the project in just 24 hours.

“It’s not meant to feel like marketing,” said Hill. “You can’t just pump out a spot and revisit it in a year without standing up for your message. This is something we believe in, and this is how we’re expressing it.”

“This will make you look differently at the people in our society,” she said.

Production Company: Creative Production Group @A+E Networks
Director: Oscar Cariss
Creative Director: Al MacCuish
Executive Producer: Ben Asher
VP of Production: Chris Gargani
Production Manager: Jennifer Pierce
Associate Producer: Sabrina Malik
Producers (agency, Sunshine): Simon Holmes, Leslie Williams
Editor-in-Chief: Tiffanie Darke
Line Producer: Dirk Detweiler
Production Supervisor: Heather Weinstock
Director of Photography: Kristian Zuniga
Editorial Company: Crew Cuts
Editor: Joe Siegel
Sound Studio: Sonic Union
Mix: Steve Rosen
Custom Music By: Hans Zimmer’s Bleeding Fingers Music
Poem Written & Performed by: IN-Q
Sound Studio: Studio City Sound
Executive Producer: Werner Brell
Executive Producer: Amanda Hill
Producer: Lihu Roter
Producer: Yemisi Brookes
Associate Producer: Sabrina Malik
Creative Director: Assaf Dagan
Creative Director: Roee Lotan
Associate Creative Director: Al MacCuish
Director: Nim Shapira
Social Strategy: Nicole Fagin
Social Distribution: Kathleen Braine

@samimain sami.main@adweek.com Sami Main is social editor for Adweek, where she posts Adweek content onto social platforms and looks for creative ways to communicate what's new.