Campfire was born from our passion for storytelling.
Yes, our founders made The Blair Witch Project. But if you think it was just a movie, you’d be mistaken. It was a tale that evolved in the press and online and through genre fans and dozens of other little experiences to create an experience much larger than any single film could contain. The movie was just the centerpiece in a complex series of encounters. Legends were seeded. Stories evolved. Advocacy grew. And the film became a sensation before it ever reached a single theater.
This transmedia approach to telling stories across multiple channels and media was a new way to create and manage a brand launch. Since this lofty beginning, we’ve applied these principles to generate unprecedented buzz and engagement for dozens of companies.
Mike Monello is a true pioneer when it comes to immersive storytelling and innovative marketing. In the late 1990s, Monello and his partners at Haxan Films created The Blair Witch Project, a story told across the burgeoning internet, a sci-fi channel pseudo-documentary, books, comics, games, and a feature film, which became a pop-culture touchstone and inspired legions of found-footage movies in its wake. It forever changed how fans engage with story and how marketers approach the internet.
Inspired by the possibilities for engaging connected fan cultures and communities online, Monello co-founded Campfire in 2006. There, he leads an agency that has developed and created groundbreaking participatory stories and experiences for HBO, Amazon, Netflix, Cinemax, Discovery, National Geographic, Harley- Davidson, Infiniti, and more. Campfire won Small Agency Campaign of the Year via AdAge in 2013 and Small Agency of the Year via Online Marketing Media and Advertising Awards in 2012, and has been awarded top honors at the Emmys, Cannes Lions Festival, Clios, One Show, and MIXX. Monello is on the Peabody Board of Jurors, and regularly speaks at high-profile events such as Advertising Week, SXSW, Digital Hollywood, and more.
Long before joining Campfire, I worked my way through college as a restaurant magician in London.
That’s a tough gig — moving from table to table, struggling to get the attention of strangers as you go. But I learned that the best way to win over audiences is by inviting them to participate in stories, rather than simply performing tricks for applause.
It’s a valuable lesson I brought with me to big ad agencies as a Creative Director for 12 years, before finding my groove at Campfire in 2009.
It was only there that I could finally practice what I preached: earning eyeballs — and more importantly, hearts and minds — with compelling ideas, rather than buying them with media dollars.
Since then my work has been featured by major media outlets, studied at top universities and won many industry awards. More significantly, it’s generated thriving fan followings for my client partners, propelling premium shows and products to success.
Mike Knowlton has always pushed the boundaries of storytelling and technology. He is a recognized leader in the immersive media community and co-founded StoryCode, a vibrant cross-discipline global community of innovative creators. StoryCode curates immersive media exhibitions, innovation workshops, and Story Hackathons. Knowlton is an expert at bridging the gaps that often exist between traditional business divisions—a universal translator of sorts.
As a Creative Technologist he founded and led a number of tech companies including user-interface design firm Nascent State, digital agency BASIK and next-gen storytelling studio Murmur. At Murmur, Knowlton created the first-ever “social film” (a short film integrated with the Facebook API). He has led large multidisciplinary teams developing complex software for brands including Bath & Body Works, Gucci, IBM, New York Life, MoMA, Philosophy, Tiffany & Co, and Victoria's Secret. At Campfire, Knowlton focuses on creating new business opportunities and ensuring project success. He regularly speaks at leading festivals and conferences including New York Film Festival, Savannah Film Festival, StoryWorld, SXSW and Tribeca Film Festival. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University and is an avid fly-fisherman.