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Sony Presents: Creator to Creator - The Last of Us

Entered in Branded Content, Branded Series

Objective

In 2021, we launched our Creator to Creator series, which brings together creators from different parts of Sony that are involved in a common project to exchange on their experience, collaboration and more.

This is not a typical interview - the creators are the heroes of the story. The chemistry and camaraderie of the intimate roundtable enables the viewer to connect with each of them and go on their journeys. The goal is to celebrate their passion and vision and highlight how they bring incredible stories to life for the fan community.

The series continued to grow since, with episodes focused on Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and the game/movie Uncharted, both of which received a Silver Honor at the Shortys.

In early 2023, we had the opportunity to produce our biggest episode yet around The Last of Us, our iconic videogame franchise turned award-winning HBO series. Our goal was to celebrate the collaboration between the talented teams at the game studio Naughty Dog, PlayStation Productions and HBO, as well as the incredible performance of the show leads.

We do so by highlighting the authentic passion these key creatives have for the story and the grueling journey they went through to bring it to life – all told in a captivating long-form conversation unlike any other in market, with a large suite of assets to connect with fans, support our organic and paid channels, and celebrate the unique synergy between various parts of Sony.

Strategy

With this being a uniquely Sony story, and our most ambitious Creator to Creator collaboration, we knew we had to step up our game. This entailed:

- Engage a broad audience on what they care about: anticipation was sky high for this adaptation. We wanted to not only reward hardcore fans, but also engage new fans coming in through the show, which meant developing the discussion in an accessible yet insightful way.

Getting the right creatives on board: we welcomed Neil Druckmann (Co-President of Naughty Dog) and Asad Qizilbash (Head of PlayStation Productions) back to the roundtable after our Uncharted episode. We secured participation from Craig Mazin (Showrunner of the TV adaptation) as well as the leads: Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. We conducted extensive research to set up the best discussion and bring out their chemistry. The shoot was set at the start of the promo cycle, so it was the first time this group got to sit together and reminisce.

Highest end production and storytelling: The Last of Us is known for its highly visual, postapocalyptic world. We created an elaborate set, tied to the franchise’s world, with plenty of Easter eggs. Talent was blown away by the production and was fully immersed in the discussion. We also secured extensive behind-the-scenes materials from the making of game and movie, to further elevate the storytelling of the finished pieces.

Perseverance, patience and marrying objectives: We led a close partnership with PlayStation Productions, Naughty Dog and HBO to align on the vision, develop the content POV, produce the shoot, secure talent, etc. While combining this many different entities is challenging, we focused on protecting the authenticity of the storytelling first, while preserving our overarching Sony Masterbrand perspective: the creators are the heroes of the story.

Purposeful rollout, timing and the Pedro Pascal hype: Like all our episodes, we let the conversation flow and adapted our plan accordingly. We decided on two long-forms (10min each), with part 2 branded as spoiler-filled.

We devised a comprehensive launch strategy, across all partner channels, including 50+ social clips/assets customized for various social channels, and a detailed paid media rollout across FB/IG and YouTube.

The launch timing was also carefully planned – Part 1 was to launch after the season’s midway point, with the show hype growing week after week, and the spoilery Part 2 the following week, right after the pivotal episode 8, with plenty of dissection of what just went down.

Lastly, we saw the intense hype that Pedro Pascal generated online, and we had an abundance of fun moments from the shoot that deserved to be seen by fans. We devised a lot of fun extra clips for TikTok to feed the fandom and drive more attention to the conversation.

We developed the strongest creative possible and matched it with the right rollout, to meet fans where they are at and break through the immense conversation already happening around the show.

Results

This episode was a huge success – by far our biggest yet. Even with the abundance of interviews out there, the conversation and many of its clips went viral across channels, as it was a wholly original perspective, full of unheard anecdotes, humor and genuine heart made possible by the unique Creator to Creator format. Combined with the intense passion for the show, the star power we featured and our launch timing – it was a perfect storm.  

The YouTube long-forms totaled 2.2M+ views and ranked in YouTube’s viral “all trending content” chart. Social clips generated 22M+ organic video views. An additional 3.8M video views and 24M impressions came from our highly effective media plan.

The organic success came down to true collaboration across Sony, which perfectly mirrored the Creator to Creator episode itself – we had huge support across PlayStation, HBO and talent channels, and even took over the PlayStation 5 console’s homepage.

Most importantly, the fan reaction was unbelievably positive – thousands of comments mentioned how much they loved the content and resonated with the inspiring passion shared by our creatives.

It felt like the moment where our intent for the Sony brand and this series fully and authentically clicked with our fans. We are elated to continue building out this series and lift the creators at its core.

As a creative entertainment company, Sony celebrates creators who think differently, push boundaries, and inspire fans through their work. We are proud to be a platform for visionaries.

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Entrant Company / Organization Name

Sony Corporation of America

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