Zeus Jones and Sierra Bravo Win Phizzpop at SXSW
Minneapolis team honored for using interactive technology and social media to execute idea that makes ecological and economic sense
For Phizzpop’s finals, teams had two weeks to develop an interactive solution using existing Microsoft technology and social media platforms to promote sustainable living in Austin, Texas, host city of SXSW.
Rather than addressing what people buy and throw away, Christian Erickson and Chad Hancock of Zeus Jones partnered with Sierra Bravo’s Gregory Wurm to develop the idea of Usemore, which helps people use what they have more effectively by sharing it — and getting what they need — through social media.
The Usemore application helps people share what they already have — but aren’t using — via a Twitter-like platform built on Microsoft’s Silverlight. For example, cars usually ride with unused capacity. Using Usemore, people make informed choices about picking a driver through social media just like they would through seller ratings on eBay or friend recommendations on Facebook. Riders can connect throughout the city using their mobile GPS. Usemore uses Microsoft’s Window Live ID for IM and Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.
“Zeus Jones is an agency of rock stars and we’re with the band,” said Sierra Bravo VP of software development Tom O’Neill in full-spectator mode. “When web developers partner with creative people backed by a solid business plan, good things happen — with (Zeus Jones partner) Christian Erickson’s masterful presentation as exhibit A.” See it at here
“As the designated Sierra Bravo web nerd riding the amazingly creative coattails of Zeus Jones, we’re proud to represent Minneapolis,” said Sierra Bravo’s Gregory Wurm. “Using Microsoft’s Expression Blend, Design and Visual Studio 2008, we went from design to development while maintaining the designer’s (Zeus Jones’s Chad Hancock) original vision, pixel perfect. Everything is seamlessly reused – styles, code, animation – with no slicing or dicing needed. We can target Silverlight, Surface, desktop and soon mobile apps with these tools. By integrating Azure’s existing cloud services, we create a rich user experience.”
Teams of three web pros representing agencies from five cities earned a trip to the national finals by winning their regional Phizzpop Design Challenge, a web development competition created by Microsoft. Competing with Zeus Jones/Sierra Bravo were Vectorform from New York, Manifest Digital from Chicago, Archetype from Los Angeles, and Phenomblue from Miami. “Phizzpop lets Sierra Bravo strut the stuff we do every day back at the Nerdery, where we partner with ad and design agencies nationwide to make their creative vision work on the web,” said Wurm.
“My role was making the design work online by creating the database to store all the data displayed on the screen” said Wurm. “I worked on the more complex animations like the list views and map. The mobile application was also my responsibility and it came to life just a short time before the presentation. Partnering with Zeus Jones gave me the best seat in the house, and it’s a thrill both personally and professionally to execute their interactive marketing ideas.”
“It feels good because basically we decided that what we would do is that we would do our thing,” Zeus Jones partner Christian Erickson told Minnov8. “We approached this just like we would a real client project, which is it starts with a differentiated strategy, and then the ideas, and then how the execution can make those ideas better. We took it very seriously.”
“We brought the right bunch of skills together,” continued Erickson. “We could not have done this if we had not had the mix of skills at our company — and with our partner and the way we work with Sierra Bravo, so that’s what I think is the best part about it.”
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