28 July 2019

The World Was Watching

Some day, in the distant future, sociologists (*) will find this video and ask themselves, 'What was this activity that gripped an entire world so many times?' The video starts,

Chess used to be a worldwide phenomenon, with millions of fans spanning the globe. People knew the names of grandmasters. They were rock stars.

'Rock stars', I tell you! From Youtube's 'World Chess' channel...

World Chess Championship in London (1:53) • 'Published on Jun 19, 2019'

...The best chess player in the world was called 'the world chess grandmaster'.

But in 1997, Garry Kasparov, the world chess grandmaster at the time, was beaten by a computer, IBM's Deep Blue. After this unforeseen defeat of human intelligence, chess faded away [a woman is shown crying].

Garry insisted that IBM cheated. He still holds a grudge, but let's get back to the main story.

After twenty years of absence, the design of London's World Chess Championship of 2018 had to make chess attractive again. The tournament was portrayed as a meaningful exchange of skills between two intelligent, real-life individuals in the era of new technology. We presented chess as the art of playing, as an intimate act, something which re-established the contact between people, re-humanized chess, and made it accessible and understandable again.

Oh, so that's what that logo was all about.

We didn't expect the bomb to go off as it did. [shows text: 'Kama Sutra logo critisized'; yup, that's what it says] There were thousands of tweets [text: 'The WCC is making chess sexy again'], dozens of news stories [text: 'No, it is not a joke'], and a viral video from the world number one chess platform.

That was Eric and Jay's video. Thanks, guys!

Beyond the championship's branding, the campaign idea was supported by the industry as well as the chess community itself. In 2018, the World Chess Championship landed on the front pages. [text: '21.000 publications worldwide; 12 million visitors on worldchess.com, 1.9 billion media reach'] The campaign received 1.9 billion impressions, brought coolness to a young audience, and fostered a sense of intimacy for everyone involved. [closing text: 'The World Is Watching'].

What industry are we talking about here -- advertising? Have we already forgotten that the match 'landed on the front pages' because every game was a draw? Bottom line: we live in a multiverse of parallel worlds where every person creates a private reality.

(*) See also The Sociology of Chess (November 2016).

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