Juan Gabriel
A national icon gets a new life through AR
In 2021, Sony Music Mexico sought a way to promote its new Juan Gabriel album. The company had decided on an Instagram filter and, with Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) around the corner, the millenary tradition and the legendary Mexican singer and songwriter seemed like a match made in heaven. 
Considering the target audience was over 35 years old, one of the main challenges was coming up with a product that would be easy to interact with, while still delivering a satisfying result for users and a memorable experience even for those who stumbled onto the resulting videos on Reels.
With Runente’s help, Juan Gabriel’s fans were able to experience Amor Eterno –a song traditionally linked to loved ones who’ve passed away– in a more personalized way, with a filter that put the audience's friends and family members front and center. A fitting tribute for such an iconic song. Keep reading to find out how this partnership went from a first call to a finished product in just 15 days.

First concept iteration. Digital illustration.

The request
During the first call with Sony Music Mexico, in October, the company expressed interest in having a selfie camera filter similar to the one Runente had developed for Juanpa Zurita. The idea was for the filter to be Día de Muertos themed, while Amor Eterno –one of Juan Gabriel’s better-known songs– played in the background. Runente’s Creative Director and Point of Contact for this project, Rolando González, had a different idea.
“Amor Eterno is a hymn for remembering loved ones during Día de Muertos. What you want and what people want is not to show the user as the protagonist, but to use this song as context to show their loved ones. We needed a tool to help users have this homage, but through a different medium and with higher production values. An animation could help produce a short movie without fundamentally changing what people want to do”, Rolando González, Creative Director at Runente.
The first three ideas to come out of Runente included an element similar to a music box, as well as a mural that would be activated through OOH advertising for the album. Finally, both Runente and Sony Music Mexico landed on a deeply traditional element of Día de Muertos: the altar. 

Logic and animation control map directly from the software: Meta Spark Studio.

The blueprint
After the call, Runente had one small, but important request: in 1990, Juan Gabriel had given a symphonic concert at Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Considering how iconic that show is for the Mexican audience, would it be possible to use that version of Amor Eterno for the filter? Sony Music agreed and, with total alignment between both teams, the project moved forward. 
“We tried to talk to Sony in a genuine way about what type of projects we can develop and what actually works for them, regardless of what we sell. We took a sort of consultor-like attitude to point them in the right direction even if that might not include us, which they really appreciated”, Rolando González, Creative Director at Runente.
Two days after the initial call, Sony Music Mexico received a detailed proposal that included a deeper description of the target audience. Given that most users wouldn’t be digital natives and might not understand all of augmented reality’s dynamics, Runente focused on slightly simpler interactions. 
“Experiences can be contemplative, reactive, or interactive. Contemplative experiences focus on just seeing yourself, as you do with face filters; reactive experiences require your input for stuff to happen, it’s not fully interactive, but it reacts to you. Because of the audience’s characteristics, we wanted to go for a reactive experience”, Rolando González, Creative Director at Runente.
The end result showed users an animation in which a picture of their loved ones became the central piece of a virtual altar, complete with all of its traditional elements, with Amor Eterno as the cherry on top of the nostalgic scene.
Bumps on the road
The entirety of the project was finalized in just 15 days: this required constant communication with the client and impressive flexibility from the Runente team. As an added obstacle, when he first received Sony’s call, Rolando was attending a conference out of the country, which made scheduling working hours more challenging than usual. 
Originally, Sony Music liked the idea of a music box, and the company’s intention was for the filter to work both on Instagram and FB. This ended up not being possible since FB presented a bug that wouldn’t allow some phone model users to place an object on a table, which resulted in the elimination of this element from the final product.
Still, the end result kept the original idea and was adapted into something that proved to be much more significant for the Mexican holiday.
What we learned and how it applies to future projects
Create for everyone: Phones and computers keep getting better and better, and so does their software. With this in mind, we should try to avoid dependence on specific technical capabilities, which might not be available for everyone’s devices.
Be nimble: Similarly, we should try to avoid focusing on just one technical way to produce a desired result. Technology evolves all the time, and we should be ready for any changes that may affect the tools we rely on.

If you want to learn how Runente can help your business reach its digital goals contact us here.

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