The Making of Pineville

Most companies, especially retailers, start planning their holiday campaigns in the summer. However, the social aspect of these campaigns can often be overlooked or incorporated after campaign planning is well underway. We created the 2015 Holiday Lookbook to inspire marketers with innovative ideas to enhance campaigns by thinking social first.

As the creative lead on this project, I thought I’d share a little bit about my process making Pineville, the tiny town where we set our scene.

Retailers use window displays to show off the season’s latest fashions and gadgets so we decided to play on that and use a window display to showcase our latest Spredfast Experiences. After the initial pitch meeting, a colleague suggested that we make the window display in miniature. I found a picture of miniature train set people painting life size Christmas ornaments, and was inspired to use the same effect to showcase our visualizations on devices that would seem huge to miniature people.

That difference of scale created a dramatic effect. In one of the scenes, there is a group of people ice skating, and there is an iPad behind them showcasing a visualization. The iPad ends up looking like a Jumbotron next to the tiny figures and this helps reinforce that we can output our visualizations on anything from an iPad to a Jumbotron.

Miniatures are interesting because people get to relive their childhood when they see a diorama. It reminded me of making sandcastles and playing Legos as a kid. There was a really great moment during the construction when I realized I was getting paid to play with toys. The audience also gets to experience the holidays through the miniature people, which is fun.

The scene was born as a whiteboard doodle during one of our initial meetings, and it stayed pretty true to that first drawing. I turned these doodles into sketches, then from there I made wires and a document that detailed what each scene would look like. It was important to document everything that I planned to include in the scene because I had to order everything for the project on Amazon.


 

I found a lot of great resources online for building train scenery, and this really helped to plan out my scene. I started with a base of foam insulation board and then used shaper sheet and old ceiling tiles to create the mountain scenery. Once the base was finished, we added snow and trees, and almost instantly the scene came to life. After adding the signage, devices, and people we were almost ready to go.


 

I designed a huge backdrop to make the scene feel like it was grounded in reality—although I did Photoshop the Austin skyline at the base of a mountain (a personal dream of mine). The final step was to photograph the scene and design the Lookbook. You can download a copy of the finished product here.


 

Bringing Pineville to life it was a pretty smooth process, but there were a few hiccups. Unsurprisingly, most of the items we bought to build the scene weren’t Amazon Prime eligible, so shipping time was an issue. I also ran out of snow halfway through the build with no time to order more. Luckily, we found a recipe online to make fake snow out of baking soda and glue. The DIY snow actually ended up looking better than the snow I bought on Amazon.

All in all, it took five weeks to make this project a reality. All the designers on the marketing team contributed, from the build concept and signage, to photography of the scene once it was built, to editorial design of the Lookbook. We had a Holiday Diorama party as a part of our weekly hack night, and several co-workers volunteered their crafty skills.

It’s exciting to work with a team that  appreciates creativity, and was willing to explore unconventional approaches to make this holiday lookbook memorable. I’m proud of what we ended up accomplishing as a team, and I can definitely say it’s the finest diorama ever built by a software company.

Take a look at the making of Pineville and get your own copy of the 2015 Holiday Lookbook now.

jhumble@spredfast.com's picture

Jeff Humble

@sssssnake
Jeff is a product designer at Spredfast where he designs social experiences that inspire audience participation on any screen. He is focused on bringing innovative products to market and is obsessed with user-centered design. When he’s not at work he’s probably at a coffeeshop, a concert, or on a running trail.