Aizawa Inori is an experiment to create a unique and potentially popular mascot character for an unpopular software, Internet Explorer. Starting with an image that Danny Choo shared, we designed an Internet Explorer counterpart in line with the art direction.
108 likes, 36 shares and 10 comments later, we decided to take the concept further and develop her into a proper, mascot-worthy character that will challenge haters and bring them on IE's side. If not because of the merits of the browser, then at least because of the sheer attractiveness and popularity of the mascot.
It turned out very successful and we continued to build on the popularity of the character. Even if Microsoft doesn''t buy over the character rights, we would have a wonderful PR tool for Microsoft to leverage on and that ought to mean something.
The next step is to create wallpapers and icons for the character as giveaways. After a simple poll, we went with two of our favorite designs and made them into free-to-distribute digital wallpapers.
Her name was decided to be Aizawa Inori. 'Aizawa' becaue Silverlight is named so in Taiwan. Inori because they needed it. If you take the first syllabus of each part of the name, you get Ai-I. Or IE. Smart, eh?
If you are interested in downloading the Aizawa Inori theme pack for yourself, here is the Gumroad link.
And so the secret is out. Months later, a representative from Microsoft approached the team during one of our events. This lead to a flurry of activites as we gathered resources and manpower to make the magic happen.
The most prominent of the Inori Aizawa campaign is, of course, the short animation. Garnering over two million views within a short span of one week, the animation became one of the most talked-about and popular video on the official Internet Explorer Youtube channel.
This animation was produced by CDS represented by yours truely and directed by WaHa (the original character designer). The entire process from scripting, storyboarding, key animation, inserting special effects, music and compositing took place within a two months frenzy.
Other than the animation, there were other parts to the project as well which CDS worked closely with Microsoft to bring the character to life and encourage adoption of the browser. With the assistance of start-ups in the various fields, an official costume was created and the website developed.
Additional graphics were also created by the CDS team with the animation team for the campaign.
The Facebook cover was illustrated by Geisterstuden. Along with Setsuri, there were further Aizawa-themed yet-to-be-released illustrations that have been done up for the campaign.
Under the art direction of WaHa, the animation team also created graphic assets that were ultilized in the current setup of the Inori homepage and booth setup at Anime Festival Asia Singapore 2013.
In all, it was quite a satisfying campaign and there will be more to come.
Hope the campaign will also help bring more users to Internet Explorer!
Following the completion of the main campaign, there are still further illustrations that we have been doing. First and foremost are the Inori Aizawa chibi artworks that are used for their PSAs artworks on the Facebook page. These images have also since been released as icons for the fans to use.
CDS also prepared wallpapers that will be used on both the Internet Explorer Inori Aizawa homepage but also avaliable as downloads for the fans. The first batch of wallpapers were designed by Geisterstunden with help from Setsuri.
For the next batch, we engaged a friend of ours, Pricey to design the set of three wallpapers.
The last batch of wallpapers features a mix of works from Geisterstunden, GreenTeaNeko and WaHa.
With each major festive season, a new wallpaper from CDS has also been released.
Lunar New Year: Geisterstunden
April Fools': Haimerejzero
Beyond just basic graphics, CDS also supplied short comics that helps to reinforce the message that Internet Explorer is no longer the same as before. These comics parody popular anime trophes and engages the fanbase.
Writing was a pleasant collaboration between the CDS team and the (then) Internet Explorer Asia Pacific Lead.
It has been almost a year and we've finally got around to putting these shirts out in the market. Apparently, we can't sell them through the official Microsoft channels but well, they are ready. So if anyone wants an Inori Aizawa T-shirt, go buy them now!
The Inori Aizawa campaign was also nominated for 'Most Viral' campaign award for MARKies 2014. We did not win but not bad for an art studio, eh!
Account Management: KC Ng
Character Designer and Animation Creative Director: Low Zi Rong
Illustrations: Low Zi Rong, Angela Tan, Jeremiah Boon, Ricky Li, Pricey
Comics: Ricky Li
Special thanks to CACANi (Animation), Neo Tokyo Project (Cosplay costume), Kamiworks (Website) and Eldon Halim (Additional illustrations)