ChoZa is an entertainment app built into VK with films and TV shows where users themselves become one of the characters. The plot develops through notifications on the social network, and new, unexpected episodes arrive in various formats: video calls, for instance, or text and audio messages. The platform’s pilot horror series “Don’t Go Hiking,” which premiered in August 2019, was the first project of its kind in the world.
Each new episode is created first and foremost to shake viewers to their core. At a given moment in the development of the plot, you get the feeling that you’ve stumbled into something big, and you ask yourself, “What. Is even. Happening?!” That’s how we came upon the bold name, grounded in contemporary Russian slang, “ChoZa”—or “What the…”—which works brilliantly in all kinds of genres: for instance, “What’s That Horror,” “What’s Those Tears” (romantic drama) and “What The Hell?!” (comedy).
In addition to the name, we developed a brand platform and corporate identity. The conclusions of our extensive study of Generation Z from our insights agency Signal (part of ONY) helped us find the right tone for the project's visual concept. The style recreates the casual and relaxed attitude of the Zetas, using music video-style editing, overlaps, and a basic, simple font, as if it were the first one we landed on. Memes and GIFs help push the surreality and absurdity of the visual language to the limit. Shooting with front-facing cameras, blurry videos and photos with fingers in frame underscore the sense that everything is happening in reality.
We also studied how users divide their attention and how different types of content can help Choza stand out from the competition. Since the app was developed for VK, we developed a detailed plan for how its style elements should look in its interface. For example, the black-and-white logo icon in the "Games" section is diametrically different from the typical candy-colored ones there, emphasizing the radical approach and appeal to genre-breaking youthful codes.
ChoZa is the first immersive quest-type show of its kind. Its creators came to ONY at the idea phase, which we needed to completely package with a strategy, name and user communication strategy. As a result, the whole design is based on the effect of surprise and draws users in through what initially seems like an overflow of content—just like the social network itself.