Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Year in Review

As 2009 comes to an end, let's take a few moments to look at some of the accomplishments we've made over the past year...

1. Mastered Joomla! - Francomedia can just about do anything with this Content Management System (CMS), it was a big learning curve, but we dedicated hundreds of hours into learning it inside and out. The result now, is we can offer great web sites with endless functionality, endless SEO options and the customers can drive the content themselves. Well done Sandor and Nicholas.

2. Created Brands - Our design team has unveiled some great looking wordmarks and logos this year which I believe can be the start of some great brands. These designs have made it onto business cards, web sites, letterhead, billboards, the sides of vehicles, baby food packaging, pharmaceutical capsules, mobile web sites, point of sale materials, cleaning products, oil well sites, hats, presentation screens and onto coffee mugs. Well done Dave, Colin and Ryan.

3. Won Awards - The Francomedia team earned some street cred this year with 5 international awards. Spring arrived with a Platinum Hermes and Gold Hermes for the design of our own business card and the design of our own envelope with custom postage stamp. In the fall we learned that we won Platinum MarCom and Gold MarCom for the design of the Alternate Reality Game (ARG), Experience the Node and for the design of our own business cards. Then towards the end of the year we learned that we won the top honor, a Platinum Ava Award for the ARG we developed for our client, The Node. In December, it was announced that Francomedia is a finalist for the Marketing Award of Distinction and the Premiere's Award - handed out by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce. Well done team!

4. Continued to Grow - Despite the economic conditions, Francomedia was fortunate enough to grow over the past year, increasing sales and headcount. We have a great group of dedicated, talented and creative staff. I can attribute this past years' success to our team - no doubt their hard work and perseverance has solidified Francomedia's reputation in the market place as a reputable creative boutique. We were on the receiving end of many new customers who made the switch to our little shop of honors. We made many friends this year.

5. "Got Involved" - This year we did quite a bit of work for non-profit organizations, putting in many extra hours on projects for Volunteer Calgary, Servants Annonymous, The United Nations Association of Canada, The Santa Cause, Science Alberta and even became a platinum sponsor of a non-profit organization - the Calgary Council for Advanced Technology. In addition to that, we got involved with a for profit organization because we believed in what they were doing, we sponsored the "Access to Capital Conference", a platform to help businesses learn about and find alternate financing at time when businesses needed it most. We are proud of all these associations.

6. Got Famous - Well, we didn't, our business cards did. In addition to our business card designs picking up some international awards, they got featured in several blogs from around the world which resulted in us being interviewed for books, blogs and magazines. If you do a google image search of us and images of our business cards will fill your screen, well... almost. Every week or so we discover a new web site that is featuring our cards. We've had a lot of customers ask us about doing similar cards for them, but when they learn how much they are, they tend to drop the issue. Fame has a price and it's five bucks per.

7. Developed a Game - Every year as a holiday gift we like to do something creative. This year, we opted out on doing a physical printed card (sorry to our fine print suppliers) and decided to do something digital. A simple e-mail greeting wouldn't suffice, so we developed an arcade style video game and sent it to customers - it's called, "Mistletoe Command" and garnered much attention and adoration from our clients, friends and some new acquaintances. In addition to the game, we purchased 125 Colorado Spruce tree grow kits to promote the game as well as to award to winners of the game (the contest ends in 5 minutes).

I'm sure I've missed a few things, but those were a few of the highlights of the year, a few of many. So, with that said, I have just a few minutes before the clock strikes 12... from everyone at Francomedia to everyone... OK, both of you reading this, All the best in 2010 and have a prosperous New Year.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Game of the Year!

OK, maybe that's overselling it, but we did develop a really fun holiday game for clients and friends this year.

You see, every year at this time, we do something really creative by way of a fun gift and greeting card - and these have become very popular with our clients.

This year, we decided to do something digital and save some trees... by getting our customers to burn some down!

We developed an online video game called Mistletoe Command, yeah it's a nod to the 80's arcade game Missle Command. We had a creative meeting and determined that presenting it in retro-styled 8-bit graphics would be best - presenting our customers with a real arcade experience that reminded them of a time long ago when the only real currency was quarters not text messages and status updates.

The game concept was quite simple, you play the part of the Grunch and hate xmas, you try to burn down O Tannenbaum before the Mistletoe can take you out. The mechanics of the video game were not as simple as the concept - which is usually the recipe for a good game. We put some smarts into the backend of the game by way of high score tabulations and even keep track of who finds the easter egg - that's right folks, you need to find that too!

To add to the game, we ordered over 100 Colorado Spruce Tree grow kits and will award a number of them to the players that have entered their contact information along with their high-scores. So far, we've had over 600 players play the game and have had entries from as far away as New Jersey. Not bad considering we only sent it out to about 150 clients.

To complete the game, we did nearly everything in house, with the exception of some of the illustrations, in which we hired Jennifer Llewellyn, a famous character illustrator. Our very talented Francomedia team contributed the designs, the copy and the development of the game - the result was a very playable and enjoyable online video game, in time for xmas.

In total, we spent over 170 hours in the development of this game - so, you'd better play it and enjoy it! A big thank you to the Francomedia team for their efforts in 2009 - 5 international creative awards and a very cool xmas gift for clients with Mistletoe Command.

So, to friends and clients of Francomedia, we thank you for your support in 2009. We truly appreciate your business and friendships and look forward to what 2010 brings - all the best this holiday season!

PS - go play the game now!

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another International Award!

The Francomedia mailbag arrived yesterday with some great news; an announcement from the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals... we won a Platinum Ava Award!

The international Ava Awards recognizes outstanding work by creative professionals involved in the concept, writing, direction, shooting, and editing of video production, tv commercials, news, and programs, as well as new media.

In our case, we won in the new media category of "Web Development and Interactive Contests" for our work on the "Experience the Node, Alternate Reality Game (ARG)". The platinum award is the top honor.

The ARG that we developed along with our client, The Node Gaming Centre, has won top honors in the MarCom awards as well, so we can now say that it was a multiple award winning promotion!

Developing an ARG is an arduous task, it takes many hours of planning and many more in execution, in all nearly 500 hours were put into making the game a success internationally. The team working on this project, which included members of The Node as well as Francomedia, developed 4 videos that were placed on YouTube as part of the game, as well as 6 web sites, a forum, a database and used multiple social medias, forums and communication methods to both tell the story and execute the game (YouTube, Flicker, Facebook, Craigslist, UnFiction, IRC, blogs).

The ARG was developed to launch a new LAN Gaming Centre in Calgary last summer, the ARG created a buzz, garnered some traditional media attention and gave The Node a very cool story to tell as their brand grows and expands.

Just for the record, here are the hero's that worked on this project (alphabetically):
Sandor Fekete
Ryan Ferrier
Kevin Franco
Kaya Konopnicki
Dave Kromand
Tim MacRae
Colin Stange
John Thomas
So, to everyone who worked on this project, a great big thank you - it took a lot of creativity and a lot of hard work.

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