Q&A with Creative Departmint, the Web3 Agency Behind CBS’ Interactive Ghosts Experience

Back in July, the Woodstone mansion from CBS’ Ghosts, together with its colorful group of residence ghosts, materialized in Decentraland. But this wasn’t the result of some spooky afterlife magic, no—this was a first-of-its-kind TV show activation in Decentraland! Created with the intention of both delighting those who were already fans and attracting new viewers, the experience has served as an example of a whole new type of audience engagement.

Brainchild of Web3 agency, Creative Departmint, and CBS’ president and CMO, Michael Benson, the promotional experience serves as an interactive and unique way to create a buzz around Ghosts ahead of its next season. Visitors to the Decentraland Woodstone mansion, built by development studio Terra Zero, can explore the historical structure’s many rooms and meet the ghosts that live there while helping them complete tasks in a mini game that earns the visitor a special NFT collectible.

Woodstone mansion will remain standing in Decentraland through September so you can visit the experience for yourself here.

Creative Departmint is a Web3 agency that takes an interdisciplinary approach to helping their partners understand and capitalize on the opportunities Web3 and blockchain technology offer. We got an inside look at the work behind the successful experience they helped to create in a Q&A with their head of Business & Creative Strategy, Johnathan Verk.

Q&A with Creative Departmint

DCL: When did CBS approach you to create an activation in Decentraland? How far ahead of an event does work need to begin?

CD: We started bringing ideas to CBS’ CMO, Michael Benson back in March 2022. He loved the idea that we could reach a similar demographic to the traditional one that watches Ghosts through Decentraland. The plan was to develop the experience in time for a San Diego Comic-Con launch, which took place near the end of July, so about 3 months is the minimum for a well-thought out, rich Decentraland experience.

DCL: Did CBS already know what they wanted to be designed and built for them in Decentraland or did you help them conceive the experience?

CD: The overarching strategy was set by CBS: an experience that could bridge seasons one and two, surprise and delight fans, and introduce Ghosts to a new audience. But when it came to creative & technical execution, they put their trust in us entirely. It was especially fun because in many ways, CBS got into this with a genuine ‘build and learn’ approach.  We had spirited discussions about which chain to build on, which metaverse to build in and what game mechanics to deploy. As you can imagine, the factors that guided those decisions were really unique and interesting.

I give their CMO, Michael Benson a TON of credit—he and his team are incredibly brave and were an absolute pleasure to work with.

DCL: Do you get contacted by a lot of big brands these days to create activations and experiences in the metaverse? Do you feel like the potential of activations in the metaverse is fully realized by the mainstream or not yet?

CD: We get calls from big companies all the time to help them get into Web3.  Some of them are hyped up on the metaverse, while others want to go straight down the NFT rabbit hole. Some see dollar signs and some recognize the tremendous branding opportunity the metaverse offers to engage with their audience.

We feel very fortunate that CBS’ Michael Benson is such an innovative forward thinker. With this activation, CBS became the first ever television network to launch a promotional activation in Decentraland. We’ve barely scratched the surface on the potential for the metaverse. Creative Departmint will continue to educate and advise big brands on their metaverse strategy.  We’ve only just begun.

DCL: What do you think is the potential and benefit of using such activations and experiences to promote a brand or community? How do you think it compares to traditional methods of promotion/advertising?

CD: Some activities are about attracting new customers and others are designed to build deeper relationships with customers that already exist.  Loyalty platforms like Moonwalk allow marketers to micro-target micro-demos and reward them for their fandom.

For this activation, we paid great attention to detail in recreating the Woodstone Mansion and gave fans access to an immersive and interactive platform with quests and exclusive new content from the show.  Traditional methods will struggle to keep up with the opportunities new technologies like the metaverse offer.

DCL: What kind of work goes into designing and creating the kind of experiences you design for brands in Decentraland?

CD: This was a really fun and engaging way to delight fans of CBS’ hit show, Ghosts, and expose the show to people who may have never heard of it.  We of course worked closely with the teams at Decentraland and Polygon, but we also brought in Ghosts ‘superfans’ to advise us on how we could deliver a unique and immersive experience they would love. We also worked directly with network executives, showrunners, and talent to ensure that the game followed the show’s canon and stayed consistent to the narrative that fans would expect.

We couldn’t have accomplished what we did without our amazing partners at Decentraland, TerraZero, and Moonwalk… But we couldn’t have even left the starting gate without the insight, guidance, and direction of the show’s fans.

DCL: What makes an experience/activation in Decentraland good? What are the key elements for success?

CD: Starting with Triple-A IP is always going to give you a head start. But whatever the starting point, you need to know the audience you’re building for.  In our case, we were onboarding thousands of ‘normies’ for whom this would be their FIRST Web3 experience. That means, no prior experience with crypto, crypto wallets, or NFTs… We worked really hard to keep the onboarding process super-simple and streamlined using familiarlanguage and simplified instructions. We designed the games and quests to be easy enough that first-timers could accomplish them—but with a broad enough range of unique game mechanics that Decentraland & Web3 natives could appreciate them too.

DCL: What are some common mistakes you see from activations that aren’t successful?

CD: Like most things, it almost always comes down to lousy marketing (but hey that’s what Web3 Agencies like us are here to fix).

DCL: Tell us about Creative Departmint

CD: I spent most of my career working with and advising some of the world’s most influential CMOs on reaching audiences where audiences are. We established Creative Departmint specifically to help marketing teams at companies like CBS explore and capitalize on marketing opportunities in Web3– whether NFTs, games, Wearables, or metaverse builds.

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