String Theory's last brilliant viral effort for the Good Books charity, Metamorphosis, recently took gold and bronze at the London International Awards, and it could have another winner on its hands, as Havana Heat, the next innuendo-heavy, bodice-ripping Mills and Boon-themed instalment has just been released. And, coincidentally, it's been created by The Mill of London, which won production company of the year at the same awards.
To raise awareness of Good Books' benevolent raison d'être, which is purely to raise money for Oxfam, String Theory teamed up with LA production heavyweights Buck to create the first of a series of videos in a digital campaign called Good Books Great Writers. Metamorphosis, a twisted look at the Good Books story as might have been told by the dark lord of Gonzo, Hunter S Thompson, took gold for animation and bronze for sound at the awards (NY’s Antfood provided the soundtrack). DDB NZ won a silver and a bronze for its Staying up Late spot for McDonald's Olympic sponsorship, and a bronze in integration for Steinlager's 'We Believe'.
"To work with the likes of Buck TV and now The Mill is a writer’s dream," says Jeremy Taine, executive creative director of String Theory and author of the series. "To have them get behind the Good Books concept and donate a staggering amount of time and resources to the cause for free is more than we could have ever hoped for.”
Dr Jane Cherrington created the charity back in 2006. And one hundred percent of its profits go to support communities in need through Oxfam. There is no catch. The online bookstore sells exactly the same books as Amazon or Fishpond, only cheaper, with no mark-up and free delivery worldwide (if you've been inspired by Havana Heat, here's the link to the erotica section).
And, as producer Nick Barnes says, the rationale behind this campaign was simple: since it started the charity, they thought it was about time they set about using their creative powers to raise awareness of it.
Taine and colleague Tom Paine came up with the original concept—to tell the Good Books story in the style of different authors. Taine then sat down wrote a few scripts, one in the style of Hunter S. Thompson, one in the style of Mills and Boon, another in the style of mystery legend Raymond Chandler, and one in the style of J. R. R. Tolkien. And Barnes was then tasked with convincing some of the best animation companies in the world to get behind the scheme, pro bono.
"It's just about creative people coming together to do good," he says. "That's what String Theory is all about. We're new and we're trying to set ourselves apart. We're not just about selling things. We care about society, and the greater good."
Barry Coates, executive director of Oxfam New Zealand, is understandably chuffed.
"With charities competing more and more for the same dollar, hopefully this collaborative model is a new era in charity fundraising. We are eternally grateful to the worldwide creative community for giving their time and talent to benefit those who struggle for the very basics of life."
Fans of the series could find themselves with a role to play in sharing the story. Fans of books (and indeed films) are welcome to pitch scripts, offer services, or make suggestions for film subjects to help bring the Good Books story to life.