Polish cosmonaut Tadeusz Kuziora was one of a handful of elite pilots who trained for the Soyuz 30 mission in the late 1970s, but he never made the journey into space. Until he did, four decades later by way of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Gear VR goggles.
The brand and its agency VML Poland won the Adweek Grand Arc Award on Thursday night at the BrandStorytelling@ Sundance conference in Deer Valley, Utah, held during the Sundance Film Festival. The Adweek Arc Awards honor the best in brand creativity, which in its second year includes AI-infused podcasts, social media scavenger hunts, Twitter challenges and marathon livestreams.
This year’s winner, a sweeping five-minute documentary called “The Missed Spaceflight,” highlights a dream deferred and, ultimately, a man completely transported.
“The ability to fly gives people a sense of real freedom,” Kuziora says in the dramatic mini-movie, which also serves as a love story between the pilot and the stratosphere and a husband and his wife, who appears alongside him in the film. “Man and machine are essentially combined on one elevated plane.”
Samsung and VML showed off the marketer’s latest technology by putting an emotional foot forward, batting down the nagging criticism that virtual reality is a short-term gimmick or a trendy novelty. When it’s combined with a compelling narrative, the sky literally is the limit.
“What we found amazing about this piece of work was that it created an experience for the audience, enabled by the brand and the product, and the story was so compelling. While narrated in Polish, with English subtitles, we were so transfixed. We were sad when it was over because we were both entertained, educated and it met a business need,” said Shannon Pruitt, president of The Story Lab, who chaired this year’s Arc Awards jury. “It was everything done right from a brand storytelling perspective.”
As part of its ongoing #DoWhatYouCant campaign, the partners allowed viewers to watch Kuziora walk in space and admire the sunrise over Earth, albeit virtually, from the back yard of his home. (Fans can get the same realistic experience via the Oculus Store-distributed app, without the NASA-level rigorous prep, heavy suits or special diets).
“By creating this project we wanted to prove that nothing is impossible and that success depends only on our persistence and perseverance,” said Olaf Krynicki, Samsung Electronics Poland. “I hope that ‘The Missed Spaceflight,’ which fulfills many dream of flying into space, will become an incentive to follow even the most unlikely dreams.”
The film aired on television in Poland and across Samsung’s social media, racking up more than 500,000 views in its first two weeks. It’s part of the brand’s effort to move beyond cold hardware and connect to consumers, especially millennials, with a memorable message.
Previous content includes the multi-Cannes Lion-winning spot from Leo Burnett Chicago, “Ostrich,” where a flightless bird stumbles onto Gear VR goggles and takes to the sky with Elton John’s soaring “Rocket Man” as the soundtrack.