WeTransfer Urges Everyone on the Internet to 'Please Leave'

Roxane Gay narrates global appeal to disconnect

Hey, you! Get away from that screen! Step outside for a spell and experience a wonderful world of possibility.

Wait, not yet!

First, read this story about WeTransfer's new global brand campaign. Created with Stink Studios and themed "Please Leave," the work urges users to disengage from their devices and casts the file-sharing service as a trusted partner that values your time and effort. 

Take, for example, the frazzled and frustrated young woman chained to her screen in the minute-long clip below. 

"Have you ever thought about the other you?" asks best-selling author Roxane Gay in an affecting voiceover. "A you that you felt truer to? What would you say if you saw your life wasting away—stuck online, inhaling content, exhaling time?"

Welcome to WeTransfer. Please leave.

Once the ad's subject unplugs, she visits beaches, mountains and lush green countryside, discovering the depth and richness of life—or, as the copy states, "everything you've read about, tweeted, liked, posted out." She returns to her workspace rejuvenated—and fires up WeTransfer, natch—and then she's off again, in search of new IRL adventures. 

"Since the beginning of WeTransfer, our team has built technology as a tool to help humans move ideas and facilitate creativity—and nothing more," senior marketing director Julia Shapiro tells Muse. "This campaign is a celebration of that purpose. This sets us apart from many of the tech companies who exist today, whose main goal is to distract us from what's important and keep the dopamine hits coming so we stay in their systems. It's a reality that we need technology and screens today, but we need to recognize that technology works for us, not the reverse." 

The work stems from the company's global "Ideas Report" that polled 10,000 creative pros and found—to no one's surprise—that online distractions steal precious time they could use to refine their craft and develop new ideas.

"Overwhelmingly, creatives said they were more likely to get ideas from real-life experiences like talking with friends, travel, nature, books, magazines and going to galleries," Shapiro says. "This is in stark contrast to the hustle culture we all experience today. We've become a society that is navigating more technology than ever, but many people feel like it's getting in the way of their creativity. It feels like it's time to have an honest conversation about our relationship with technology." 

Of course, notions of stepping away have become de rigueur in recent years. Brands ranging from Georgia-Pacific's Dixie to luggage provider Delsey have tried digital-detox campaigns, while agency network Havas recently invited prospective interns to reach out via postcards instead of emails or texts. (Physical postcards! With stamps, yet!) 

WeTransfer's spin feels pretty genuine. After all, most of us can't disengage for long. It's not about escape, but finding balance and generating fresh creative energy. If WeTransfer can help in that regard—even just by reminding users to "Please Leave" every now and then—it's all to the good. 

Shapiro says Roxane Gay was "a natural fit" as the campaign's voice. "She's such a clear example of someone who pulls the richness and rawness of her real-life experience into her craft. Her work is some of the most powerful writing out there right now for this reason." (Her work stresses inclusiveness in a style that promotes thoughtful discussion, and that vibe really resonates in her narration.) 

That said, the lines she reads aren't from her own work. 

"It was important for us to highlight the beauty of the everyday, so we worked with Stink to create a sensory-rich experience, meant to highlight the delight of all of the places we may find inspiration, when we take a moment to step away," Shapiro says. 

As for the campaign's target, "our audience is made up of creative thinkers—people with ideas that may need some help sharing them," she says. "This isn't necessarily contained to the creative class, though we see a lot of artists on the platform. We see people in many other industries describe themselves as creative. We want to be a resource for those people as well." 

She adds: "One thing we know is that many people are shifting away from a traditional workplace, working remotely, as contract workers, etc. To support this shift they are looking for tools that provide them with more flexibility, take up less of their time, and add much more value to their busy lives." 

Such tools include apps like Paper, Paste and Collect, which allow WeTransfer to offer a suite that touches on many aspects of commercial and professional creativity. 

"Please Leave" follows last year's stylish film series that focused on creative collaboration and process with artists including Bjork and Asian rappers 88 Rising. This new initiative, billed as WeTransfer's first major broad brand campaign, lives on its own landing page, and will run on Hulu, Reddit and other channels. 

"People who see the ad should be inspired to go outside, get coffee with a friend, put their phone down for a few minutes," Shapiro says. "We want people to take a moment to pause and reconnect with what inspired them to be creative in the first place."

All right, then. We're finished. You can leave. Please. (But ya'll come back now, ya hear?)

CREDITS

Client: WeTransfer 
Agency: Stink Studios 
Managing Director: Marlina Fletcher
Executive Producer: Iliana Hekimian
Executive Creative Director: Yego Moravia 
Senior Art Director: Steven Olimpio
Art Director: Sara Haas
Producer: Paul Muhlbach 
Editor: Matthew Hollis 
Production Company: Imposter 
Director: Thomas Ralph
Line Producer: Malcolm Wax
DOP: Nick Bupp
Media Agency: Noble People

David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.