Captain John Gray (1819-1872) was an iconic figure in the history of the ss Great Britain. One of the most enduring, charismatic and long-serving captains of the ship, he was a master mariner of distinction, patrician but fair and much loved by crew and passengers alike. The ship’s present day crew wanted to share the story of Captain Gray with a wide audience and encourage new visitors to the ship during October half term.
We were tasked with creating a compelling campaign based on the narrative of Captain Gray’s life, using innovative digital interaction to attract a whole new audience of children, parents and young adults to the ship to learn more about this fascinating man.
Our aim was to create an exciting story beginning in the digital sphere that ultimately had to end with a physical visit to the ship to complete the experience. The campaign needed to be highly creative, highly likeable and highly shareable.
We looked at highlights of Captain Gray’s career, together with idiosyncratic habits, personality traits, attire and bizarre adventures recorded in the ship’s log. Parts of his story most easily shared and communicated in the digital space were drawn out of the mix, and a detailed narrative emerged.
Creative inspiration came from a range of Victorian archival material, including children’s illustrations and prints. We wanted to create a theatrical experience inspired by contemporary art during Captain Gray’s years of service.
Interactive elements of the narrative were designed with a nod to a bygone digital era, taking users back to the old school arcade game experience, with features inspired directly by Track & Field.
The digital narrative has formed an integral part of ss Great Britain's offering to its visitors at a key time of year, providing the online offering supporting a raft of activities taking place on the ship throughout half term. Storytelling sessions with the ship's resident narrator give more detail about the enigmatic Captain; guides lead Captain Gray tours around the ship and 'Archive at 5' sessions unearth Gray-related possessions from the vault.
Together, this provides a very compelling visitor package, helping the ss Great Britain reach new audiences and enageg more deeply with excisting supporters.