Your Shot: How W+K Shanghai and The Sacred Egg Achieved Gamefulness
In 2019, the gaming industry is nothing short of a global juggernaut. Estimated by some to be worth $300 billion by 2020, nobody should need convincing that gaming is worth taking seriously.
And yet, especially in some parts of the world, the industry has an image problem that it can’t shake. In China, despite the country having some 600 million gamers, large parts of society perceive the hobby as something of a ‘waste of time’. For Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai, the launch of the HP OMEN gaming laptop was an opportunity to push back against that myth.
The campaign humorously focuses on the real-world benefits of gaming as a hobby, such as improvements to team working skills, mental stamina, responsiveness, memory, and even creativity.
To find out more, LBB’s Adam Bennett spoke to Ian Toombs, executive creative director at W+K Shanghai, as well as directing duo The Sacred Egg (Alex Mavor and Ed Kaye) who were all behind the campaign.
LBB> What were your initial aims going into this campaign?
Ian> There are 600 million gamers in China. It’s mainstream and massive. Our goal for HP OMEN with ‘Achieve Gamefulness’ was to celebrate gamers and the positive impact that gaming has on the brain.
LBB> Can you talk us through ‘Achieve Gamefulness’? Where did that come from?
Ian> Early on, our planners found some wild data on gaming. For instance, keyhole surgeons who game perform 37% fewer errors, gamers can improve memory by 12% when gaming 30 minutes every day for two weeks, action video game players respond approximately 12% faster than non-video game players. The real-world benefits of gaming are crazy but true and that’s where ‘Achieve Gamefulness’ really came to life. It’s a tongue-in-cheek play on ‘mindfulness’. It’s philosophical. It’s based on real science. That said, it’s intentionally ridiculous.
Alex and Ed> It's two words: ‘Achieve Gamefulness’, but it conjured so much in our imaginations. We've long been interested in the architecture of Tadao Ando. He combines something ancient with something modern. It's minimalist and spiritual. We liked the idea of doing something similar in these films for ‘Achieve Gamefulness’.
LBB> What was the casting process like, and what were you trying to achieve with it?
Ian> The main characters in our films are the ‘Gamefulness Masters’. These are superior beings who have achieved the highest level of enlightenment by playing video games. You can tell they’re extra special by their giant glass skulls with golden balls of light orbiting inside of them. Alex had the brilliant idea of casting identical twins and we loved it.
Alex and Ed> Each film is only 30 seconds so we wanted to come up with something memorable for the Gamefulness Masters. We liked the idea of casting twins - it's instantly iconic. We also wanted to cast women. Most traditional associations with gaming are male and we wanted to reflect a more modern take on it.
LBB> Where did you shoot the spots?
Alex and Ed> Shanghai. We had one external location for the opening shot. The bridge leading to the gamer training facility is a real bridge. We then built a rather large 360-degree set complete with a roof for the interior.
LBB> The costume design - who had the idea for those amazing hats/helmets?! And why was that the right choice for these spots?
Ian> The central icon of the campaign is the human brain because that’s where all the good stuff is happening. Our key visuals drew inspiration from campy science illustrations where brains were illuminated to indicate positive brain activity. We used real brain-scan technology to create a visual performance for 300,000 people at China’s largest gaming convention. In film, we crafted beautifully illuminated brains inside glass skulls. We didn’t think it was possible to build a human tree or rig 100 people with LEDs synchronized to music but The Sacred Egg pulled it off.
Alex and Ed> The key visuals for the campaign played with the idea that gaming affects your brain. We liked the idea that as you ‘Achieve Gamefulness’ through gaming your brain becomes more powerful. We wanted to show this so we decided to give everyone glass skulls. And to make people’s brains illuminate when they are gaming or having a moment of ‘Gamefulness’. Just because it kind of looks cool.
LBB> There's a sci-fi aesthetic to these spots – was that intentional, and if so, why?
Ian> Definitely. Our goal was to create a futuristic, super-ownable world for HP OMEN unlike anything we’d ever seen. So we imagined a fantastical place where gamers could come together in a sophisticated and surreal celebration of gaming’s real-world brain benefits.
Alex and Ed> We wanted to create a world that was a hymn to gaming. A celebration of gaming. Somewhere as cool and imaginative as the worlds that exist in games. If we didn't compete on that level of intrigue and entertainment then why would gamers look up from their games to watch our ads?
LBB> Did you draw any inspiration from sci-fi films?
Alex and Ed> We did borrow but we always try not to steal. We're a big fan of Moon, High Life, Alien, Ex Machina, Melancholia to name a few. We didn't set out to make a ‘sci-fi’ ad but ‘Achieve Gamefulness’ encouraged us to approach it like that. It's very rare that you get to create such a complete universe with a tone and aesthetic and a singular idea driving it all. It's one of the things we love doing as directors. And it requires everyone to be on board - it's made up of tiny details in all departments all of which have to cohere in order for the viewer to suspend their disbelief. If you chip away at them the whole thing comes crumbling down.
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
Ian> I’d like to give a GIANT THANK YOU to our phenomenal HP clients for getting behind this bold and surreal work. And special thanks to Napier Bonnet at Rical for composing original music so good it transcends advertising. Gaming is so much fun to work on because it’s a fantasy world so everything you dream up has to be creatively fantastic, which is an awesome challenge.
Alex and Ed> If we obey the laws of sci-fi then the next Omen campaign should be another trilogy but a prequel to these, explaining how all gamers got their glass skulls...
Featured Companies: Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai
CLIENT NAME: HP OMEN
PROJECT NAME: ACHIEVE GAMEFULNESS
CLIENT CONTACT: Josh Kocurek, Jamie Sullivan, Horacio Miranda, Grace Dong, Whitney Xu, Daniel Chia
LAUNCH DATE: October 21st
DURATION OF CAMPAIGN: 3 Months
AGENCY: W+K SHANGHAI
EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTORS: Ian Toombs, Vivian Yong
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Tree Chan
COPYWRITERS: Nick Partyka, Christy Chen, Aier Xu, Raphael Valenti
ART DIRECTOR: Follen See
CREATIVE: César Farah, Matteo Marchionni
DESIGN DIRECTOR: Fish Ho
DESIGNER: Frankr Ran, Meng Meng, Zhangzhe Peng
HEAD OF PLANNING: Renee Zhang
PLANNER: Hubert Mou
COMMUNICATION PLANNERS: Echo Zeng, Molly Chen
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Bernice Wong
FILM PRODUCERS: Fang Yuan, Raymond Lau
DIGITAL PRODUCER: Angela Liu
ART PRODUCER: Juni Zhu
PRINT PRODUCERS: Stone Xue, Vic Zhang
RETOUCHER: Changqing Lee
FA ARTIST: Austin Hu
BUSINESS DIRECTOR: Jason Wang
ACCOUNT DIRECTOR: Linlin Shan
ACCOUNT MANAGERS: Ted Zhou, Eden Lui
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Bell Ge
ACCOUNT INTERN: Maggie Li
BUSINESS AFFAIRS: Jessica Deng, Kathy Zhan
FILM PRODUCTION COMPANY: HAMLET / Riff Raff
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Jason Felstead, Ruben Goots
DIRECTOR: The Sacred Egg
PRODUCER: Jane Tredget
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Benjamin Todd
POST PRODUCERS: Dominique Ruys, Sara Martinez Ruiz
FILM PRODUCTION COMPANY: FILMATE SHANGHAI
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Priscilla He
PRODUCERS: Sami Xia, Tim Zhang, Joe Shen
1ST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Maxine Zhang
ART DIRECTOR: Zorana
ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR: Xiao Wei
STYLIST: Wang Jian
FILM EDITORIAL COMPANY: CUT+RUN LONDON
EDITOR: Sam Bould
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Ben Cowan
FILM POST PRODUCTION COMPANY: MPC SHANGHAI
VFX SUPERVISOR: Patrick Firmansyah
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Jamie Loudon
VFX PRODUCER: Rachel Zhao
LINE PRODUCER: Sanchit Soi
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR: Taruna Sehgal
COLOURIST: Duncan Russell
DIGITAL COMPOSITORS: Zhongyan Dai, Allegra David, Ginesh Gandhi, Minnie Chen, Marielle Santens, Yashvardhan Jain, Geetesh Tari
ONLINE TEAM: Tingting Su, Robin Liu, Ragesh Ramchandran, Mahendra Natha Reddy, Shyam Babu, Abdullabeeb Kondachan, Joshi John, Vignesh Elumalai, Mahammad Shafiuddin, Sathish Chellappan, Jayakumar R, Aginesh K M, Priyanka Pintu Dey, Suvojit Ghosh, Sangeetha M, Vignesh R, Likin Ganapathi C P, Jegadeesan V, B Prathap Kumar, Sudev S, Sriram Parameshwaran , Ganesh Kumar S, Suhas N, Sreenivasa Aditya
CG SUPERVISORS: Christian Kalata, Jacob Oomen
MATCHMOVE ARTISTS: Anirudh Kurve, Karthick K, Ankit Dheraj Toppo, Konduru Achiraju, Nithin T K, Shridhar Bhat, Sindhuja Balasubramanian, Kishan Chandran, Venkatesh Jeyaram, Elangovan Ganeshan
CG LIGHTERS: Chamishka Gamage, Paolo Gnoni, Vaibhav Gupta, Amlan Mahapatra
ANIMATOR: Ambalika Nandy
FX ARTIST: John Svensson
CG MODEL AND TEXTURE ARTISTS: Aram Hakze, Harshitha V V, Sourodeep Dey
DIGITAL MATTE PAINTER: Winnie Sharma
CONCEPT ARTISTS: Andrew Brooks, Michelle Tolo
MOTION GRAPHICS: Derek Lian
MUSIC & SOUND
FILM MUSIC HOUSE: RICALL
MUSIC COMPOSER: Napier Bonnet
AUDIO HOUSE (LONDON): FACTORY
SOUND DESIGN: Mark Hills & Jon Clarke
SOUND PRODUCERS: Lucy Spong & Lou Allen
AUDIO HOUSE (SHANGHAI): BIG KNOWS
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Arthur Monnet
ART DIRECTOR: Charles Monnet
SOUND SUPERVISOR: Charles Monnet
SOUND ENGINEER: Aho
SOUND DESIGN: Charles Monnet
AUDIO HOUSE (SHANGHAI): HUSH
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Lily Shen
SOUND ENGINEER: Eason
VO TALENT: Ruby Li
KV ILLUSTRATION ARTISTS: Ondrej Zunka, Therese Detje, Filip Hodas
DIGITAL EXPERIENCE PRODUCTION HOUSE: NORTH KINGDOM
MANAGING DIRECTOR: Nina Amjadi
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Derek Richmond
SENIOR PRODUCERS: Aneisa Hagen, Ginny Galloway
COORDINATOR: Kory Kovachevich
ART DIRECTORS: Aaron McGuire, Eric Margusity
3D MODELERS: Patrick Letourneau, Aleksey Schludchenko, Clara Bacou
3D ANIMATORS: Nick Scarcella, Todd Hersey
TECH DIRECTOR: Chris Coniglio
CREATIVE DEVELOPERS: Nick White, Chris Magee
BACKEND DEVELOPER: Dariusz Macina
DIGITAL EXPERIENCE SOUND DESIGN: AURELIA SOUNDWORKS
PROPS DESIGN & PRODUCTION: FLIX FX
VIDEO & NETWORK PRODUCTION: BUZZ BUZZ
PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS: Jingtian Zong, Leo Chen
Category: Consumer Electronics , Gaming Consoles