EA SPORTS has launched Life Size Messi, a life-size living avatar celebrating the launch of the most realistic football game ever, FIFA 14 on new Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Online at LIFESIZEMESSI.com, the experience gives fans of FIFA and football across the globe the unique opportunity to intimately interact with one of the world’s greatest footballers. The site features a true-to-life Messi avatar – LEO – who is aware of and responds to users. Avatar LEO knows you’re there – he looks at you, he follows your movements, he responds to your touch. He is like a real man just beyond your screen.
Avatar LEO was conceived in Maya, but bringing him to life in a browser environment called for a custom-built 3D pipeline that was able to handle 3D models and animations of unparalleled scale and detail for playback in Adobe Flash. While the avatar is only interactive on a desktop, a custom-built HTML mobile site utilizes swipe, gyroscope and accelerometer functions to enable people to explore a static – but still life-size – version of LEO from head-to-toe via handheld mobile and tablet devices.
“We wanted to do something that felt as new and as realistic as FIFA14 on the next generation of consoles,” said Andrew Allen, Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam Director of Interactive Production. “The trends of flat design, sparse content and plenty of white space didn’t seem to cut it. We wanted to show, not tell, people how exciting the new game is and the best way we could think to do this was a with hyper-realistic, life-size, 3D version of the new avatar – big, bold and soulful in your web browser.”
The Life Size Messi project is promoted in a television commercial, “Messimorphosis”. The ad begins in an average looking lounge, but as our gamer picks up his controller an incredible transformation begins. His skin starts to give way to reveal a layer of CGI skin. He looks down and something is happening beneath his shirt; he lifts it up to see a six-pack popping out one muscle at a time. The bone structure of his face starts to change as he becomes more and more like the FIFA 14 avatar – his mouth shrinks and his jaw reforms with a strong dimple appearing on his chin, just like Messi’s. The bridge of his nose widens, and his eye sockets re-shape with a dark brown colour running down his blue eyes. We see the lounge’s shag pile carpet has given way to grass, as the gamer’s cotton t-shirt is replaced by the synthetics of a CGI Barcelona shirt. From within our gamer’s bare feet emerge Messi’s football boots, stretching around the contours of his body. The transformation is nearly complete. The gamer has become avatar Messi. Apart from one detail – his hair. It’s still blond and floppy. He gives his head a little shake and with that it shrinks and darkens to match Leo’s. If only all haircuts were that simple. Having transformed into the ultimate gaming experience, the avatar throws his controller to the floor to see it balloon into an Adidas match ball. He takes it in his stride and charges on to the greatest field FIFA’s ever seen. It just got real.
The Life Size Messi campaign was developed at Wieden+Kennedy, Amsterdam, by executive creative directors Mark Bernath, Eric Quennoy, creative directors Mike Farr and Pierre Janneau, interactive creative director Edu Pou, art director Ignasi Tudela Calafell, copywriter David Smith, director of interactive production Andrew Allen, interactive producer Arnaud Ronquillo, planner Ben Armistead, group account director Kirk Johnsen, account director Nick Campion, account manager Kerstin Hagg, project manager Janna Harrington and business affairs Justine Young, working with EA global marketing SVP Todd Sitrin, global marketing VP Jamie McKinlay, international marketing director Oliver Hughes, global senior product marketing manager Matt McKie, senior advertising and media director Dana Marineau, senior advertising and media manager Mark Evans, and advertising director Dustin Shekell.