Looking Back on This Creative Season
Creativity is the lifeblood of our business. Public recognition of our creativity can boost business success; however, the real value is not solely money in the bank, but in the encouragement to become even more creative.
What is “creativity”?
Sociologist Erich Fromm put it this way: "Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty."
Well…we had no choice but to let go of certainty when Covid-19 struck.
And so we followed the advice of African-American author Alice Walker: “Hard times require furious dancing. Each of us is proof.”
For FRED & FARID’s teams in Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai and Paris, this “dancing in uncertain times” meant becoming creative in execution and tuning in more than ever to our clients and customers: global lockdowns started just as we were about to start shooting the “très paris” film for Longchamp’s new global campaign.
“It was a Friday and we were together in one room with the client,” Chelsea Steiger, Creative Director of FRED & FARID Los Angeles, remembers of the lockdown announcement. “It was so disappointing.”
Fortunately, creativity doesn’t wait for the perfect moment.
“We had an amazing treatment from our Canada director Lope Serrano, and we locked in an August shoot -- three all-nighters for our fully remote team in LA” Steiger remembers.
Between March and August, the team created an entire campaign from existing assets. Pre-production was done remotely with the editor based in Spain and VFX/finishing in Paris.
The Longchamp campaign was an extremely ambitious production even before Covid, but it led to a film that is memorable and special, reclaiming Longchamp’s Parisian Heritage through a fusion of music, imagery, and storytelling.
“It was the right time for an iconic Parisian song to represent an iconic fashion brand,” says Jalila Levesque, Head of Global Communications and Partner at FRED & FARID. “Everyone who loves the romance of Paris can identify with ‘Il est cinq heures, Paris s'éveille’ (“It’s five o’clock, Paris is waking up”) and the story of Amber and Mathilde who go on an adventure as the city is awakening.”
A plot twist occurs when the girls’ matching handbags (from the Longchamp SS21 collection) are mistakenly swapped in a nightclub.
“The film is filled with symbolism and smartly crafted scenic references to the music track and the song’s original lyrics,” says Séverine Autret, Co-President and Partner at FRED & FARID Paris. “It’s a new form of story-telling, a hybrid of a music video + narrative short film.” The film leaves viewers wondering: Is it a short film or a new kind of music video? “It’s branded entertainment, a great opportunity for brands to make people spend time with them and get emotionally closer.” Séverine adds
The “très paris” campaign received the following awards and nominations: ANDY Awards Gold / Clio Awards Bronze + Shortlist / The Webby Awards 2X Nominee / Cannes Lions Shortlist / Shots Awards The Americas Bronze / ADC Awards Shortlist / The One Show Shortlist
Also in story-telling mode during the pandemic lockdown, our campaign for WEBTOON, a cultural and global phenomenon, pioneering the distribution and consumption of web-based comics featuring a broad and diverse catalogue with thousands of creator-owned series updating episodes daily. With more than 64+ million active users (+16.5 million daily), WEBTOON has a larger audience than most television series.
FRED & FARID Los Angeles, the production company Ways & Means, director / DP Kevin Phillips, and a team of video conferencing specialists executed the creative designed to increase the visibility of the series in the US. The campaign, “Stories to Obsess Over,” features celebrities in cinematic films, obsessing over WEBTOON.
“With the advent of the pandemic and quarantine – causing millions of people to remain at home, and attached to their screens – the campaign line and concept became even more relevant,” says Nathan Smith, Global Business Director at FRED & FARID Los Angeles.“To adapt to this new norm, our team pivoted in order to capture the actors alone, in their homes.”
Actress Alia Shawkat was tapped for the first episode, filmed remotely under pandemic protocols.
“Even family members pitched in, Nathan recalls. “Alia’s brother doubled as a production assistant, helping to move equipment from one setup to the next.”
The WEBTOON campaign received the following awards and nominations: The One Show Shortlist / The Webby Awards Nominee
In the mood: fusing moods and music
There’s a universal blend that transcends all cultures: cool music and smooth, heritage beverages. The combination figured in several campaigns for us in the past year, starting with the musical note created when you clink two Louis XIII cognac glasses together to make a toast.
“It’s a clear, extended G-sharp,” says Nicolas Berthier, Creative Director at FRED & FARID Los Angeles. “It’s a distinctive sound, and we built a whole campaign around it, called ‘One Note Prelude’, for Louis XIII cognac.”
FRED & FARID commissioned Paris-based Israeli pianist Yaron Herman to compose a one-note symphony using only G-sharp to explore the multi-faceted nature of this distinctive sound.
“There is an unmistakable parallel between the complexities of this note and the complexities of a single drop of this cognac,” says Peter Jacobs, Business Director at FRED & FARID Los Angeles. “Customers can appreciate this ‘moment’ and this transportive connection into a world of the senses.”
The One Note Prelude video has had 1.5 million views on YouTube.
The One Note Prelude campaign received the following awards and nominations: Clio Awards 2X Silver + Shortlist
Our campaigns for Remy Martin were based on a similar connection -- between American jazz and traditional cognac. And in creating the campaigns we unearthed an exceptional but unknown story.
“We traced the origins of the Black American community and their relationship to cognac from the 1920s to the present day,” says Amanda Hellman, Managing Director & Partner at FRED & FARID New York.
The relation between Cognac and Black Americans, narrated in the first campaign film, “Team Up,” by singer-songwriter Usher Raymond IV, started in the nightclubs of south-west France, where Black American soldiers were welcomed with open arms during the two World Wars. Some Black Americans elected to stay in France post-war, fostering a flourishing art scene, but others returned to the US, bringing their affinity for Cognac with them.
“Cognac became a fixture in Black American culture, particularly in music and its evolution through the decades: first with Jazz, then with Rock, and all the way to Hip-Hop and pop culture today,” explains Amanda.
The film pays tribute to multi-cultural connections, celebrated styles and rhythms from Blues to Hip-Hop, Swing Dancing to Breakdancing.
“There is a shared philosophy of the importance of reaching for the stars,” says Laurent Leccia, Executive Creative Director and Partner at FRED & FARID New York.”
The Remy Martin campaign with Usher received the following awards and nominations: Cannes Lions Bronze + 5X Shortlist
Our second campaign created a partnership between Rémy Martin and the Harlem Writers Guild. Record-producer Jermaine Dupri teamed up with musicians to produce music tracks inspired by poems from the Harlem Renaissance (the period between the two World Wars which significantly shaped American culture and influenced music globally) combined with footage of modern-day poets with Harlem roots.
“This campaign for Remy Martin was a celebration of cultures of excellence, a necessary reminder of what we can do together, rather than succumb to forces pulling us apart,” Laurent adds. “We wanted to give a voice back to this beautiful art form and moment in time in a way that felt relevant to today.”
The Voices from Harlem campaign received the following awards and nominations: D&AD awards Wood Pencil + Shortlist
The Customer as Creator
New technology allows us to bring the customer/client into the creative act. And for French online retailer La Redoute, social media was the perfect way to reinvent itself and connect with a sought-after younger audience.
The first campaign for the 180-year-old retailer centered around the retailer’s search for models for a forthcoming fashion campaign.
“We teamed up with influencers and made a game of it,” recalls Séverine Autret, Co-President & Partner at FRED & FARID Paris. “We created the #LaRedouteChallenge on TikTok.”
Teenagers from 13-to-18 years of age were invited to send short videos of themselves to be considered in the selection process. More than 40,000 unique creators participated in the contest, producing nearly 100,000 videos.
“After just two weeks on-air, the campaign had an astonishing 122-milion views – twice the norm, and surmounting TikTok’s highest reach in France. After a few months we ended the challenge with more than 280 million views” Séverine adds.
The #La RedouteChallenge campaign received the following awards and nominations: Grand Prix du Brand Content Gold + Silver
A second campaign for La Redoute created an all-too-familiar yet heart-warming story: a 14-year-old girl’s difficult relationship with her divorced father’s new live-in girlfriend.
Frictions arise between Lou and her father as she rejects the change in their living situation. But on the La Redoute website – which features a wide range of goods and services to meet the needs of all family members -- Lou is able to find an appropriate gift for the girlfriend, which becomes a kind of peace offering that opens the door to more positive conversation and better family relations.
“The tagline, ‘Learning to live together has never been so important,’ echoes so much in these troubled times,” says Olivier Lefebvre, Co-President & Partner at FRED & FARID Paris. “The film reflects with emotion the daily life of many new families today.”
The Redoute ‘Lou’ campaign received the following awards and nominations: Clio Awards Bronze / New York Festivals Shortlist / Gerety Awards Shortlist.
Creativity and the Social Agenda
Creativity can address social issues and bring about results through story-telling rather than lecturing.
“Albert Einstein famously said that the secret of success is knowing where to find the information and how to use it,” says Nathan Smith, Global Business Director at FRED & FARID Los Angeles, and we put that to good use this year on such burning issues as the Covid pandemic and climate change.”
The Covid health crisis brought fear, uncertainty, tragedy, division, and isolation. JCDecaux – the world’s biggest advertising out-of-home company – wanted to lift people’s spirits by doing more than posting more ads. Instead, the company donated its available inventory to launch positive, supportive messages across America under the line: We Keep Going.
More than 150 posters and +500 billboards in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and New York celebrated citizens’ resilience, encouraged hope and spread goodwill with heart-warming messages created to unite citizens and enhance the feeling of being part of a community.
“The initiative was created with the understanding that COVID-19 will have long-lasting effects” adds Nathan.“There were no hashtags, or calls-to-action; just the simple, honest and true sentiment: We Keep Going. Because that’s all we can do.”
The We Keep Going campaign received the following awards and nominations: Clio Awards Bronze /ADC Awards Shortlist / The One Show 2X Shortlist
Re-awakening Climate Change Concern
Climate change had a different challenge: finding a fresh angle to fire up new concern for global warming and other environmental concerns for a desensitized public? Environmental activist Greta Thunberg, founder of Fridays For Future, provided the inspiration with her speech at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos when she said : “I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”
FRED & FARID approached the organization to offer their services, and the campaign got underway.
“We created a haunting film portraying a family in their morning routine acting as if everything were normal, despite fires burning all around their house,” recalls Jules Chaffiotte, New Business Director at FRED & FARID Los Angeles.
At the end of the film the two parents kiss their children goodbye for school as they return into the burning home.
“The message is clear,” Jules. “We cannot continue to ignore climate change.”
(For the curious: The actors were filmed in a real house, while smoke and fire elements were captured on a ‘blacked-out' stage.)
The House on Fire campaign received the following awards and nominations: D&AD Awards Yellow Pencil / Cannes lions Shortlist / Shots Awards The Americas Gold + Silver + 2X Bronze / Clio Awards Bronze + Shortlist / ADC Awards Shortlist
As we all decamp and unplug for the holidays, we invite you to consider some insights on creativity from Henri Matisse: “Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent, with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.”
So have a spirited, playful summer, and see you in September.