Cannes Lions

RECALLING 1993

DROGA5, New York / NEW MUSEUM / 2013

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Overview

Description

In the early 90s New York was a city in turmoil. And yet despite the drugs, gentrification and AIDS crisis, artists were creating some of the most influential work in the latter half of the century. New Museum exhibition, NYC 1993: EXPERIMENTAL JET SET, TRASH AND NO STAR, relives that time by showcasing work created in New York in 1993. To promote the show, we created Recalling 1993 and brought the exhibit to every street corner in Manhattan using one of the last remaining relics of 1993: the pay phone.

By combining geo-location technology from today, with a relic from the past, we turned 5,000 pay phones into time machines. It worked like this: You use your smart phone and our geo-located mobile site to find a Manhattan pay phone, you make a phone call from said pay phone, and it connects to an ancient phone system. In the span of just a few rings, our database recognizes the call and routes to our first upstream provider (the 1-800 number vendor). They accept the call and kick to our SIP trunk (provided bybandwidth.com), which snags the old analog signal and converts it to digital. This then routes over the world wide web to our Cloud Hosted PBX system (powered by AWS, asterisk and centos) which accepts the inbound call from the telephone system, reads the caller id, on the fly determines which of the over 100 pieces of audio to play, streams the audio, trans-codes it to something the old phone system can understand and sends it back down the pipe....all in nano seconds.

This new spin on an old thing quickly spread to hundreds of news and social media outlets all over the world, generating over 165 million impressions and sending thousands of people from their cell phones, to pay phones. As a result, attendance to the museum spiked dramatically in the week Recalling 1993 was launched, with a 31% increase in attendance compared to the previous year making it the single most successful promotion in the history of the New Museum. Executive Director of New Museum, Lisa Phillips, had this to say about Recalling 1993, “In my 30 years of museum experience, I've never seen a campaign of this magnitude for an exhibition.”

NOTE FOR THE JURY: the website must be played from a mobile device.

Execution

We began by setting up a database with every Manhattan pay phone number, and purchased the toll-free phone number 1-855-FOR-1993. By categorizing each story by neighborhood, we were able to serve stories specific to the location of incoming calls. We printed stickers, purchased kiosk media space, and created custom branded kiosk cutouts that helped catch the eye of passersby. We created a short video giving an overview of the project that was shared socially and with news outlets. It was also hosted on our microsite, where users could listen to five featured stories and locate the nearest pay phones.

Outcome

Word of Recalling 1993 quickly spread to hundreds of news outlets all over the world, generating over 165 million earned impressions in just four weeks. As a result, attendance to the museum spiked dramatically in the week Recalling 1993 was launched, with a 31% increase in attendance compared to the previous year making it the single most successful promotion in the history of the New Museum. Executive Director of the New Museum, Lisa Phillips, had this to say about Recalling 1993, “In my 30 years of museum experience, I've never seen a campaign of this magnitude for an exhibition.”

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