This campaign might blow your mind.
Startup energy-drink brand Bird Brain lets fly with the funny in a cartoon series designed to position the product as a tonic for the times when you just can't … um … er … ah … pull your thoughts together in a meaningful way.
In other words, the stuff is a balm for "brain farts"—those embarrassing slips in concentration and cognition we all suffer from time to time.
Such mind emissions escape from characters' skulls with gleeful abandon—sounding like a certain wind from the nether regions—in this cheeky :60 developed by creative shop HellHorse and animation studio GifyTube:
Yeah, sometimes you're in the operating theater and you draw a … um … what's that word … a blank! There's an energy drink that's supposed to help. These :15s will remind us of the name.
That's right! It's Bird Brain, which hit the market this spring. Those dudes really like to toot their own horn! (Plus, it's a totally new idea because fart humor has never ever been used in advertising before!)
The stuff contains nootropics, supplements that may boost memory, learning and brain function. Hence the tagline: "Make your brain suck less." ("Blow" also would have worked in context, but that doesn't roll quite as smoothly off the tongue.)
In February, Bird Brain owner and founder Joe Fornari reached out to Boston-based HellHorse, led by creative directors Lawson Clarke (better known in some circles as Male Copywriter) and Jude Senese, for campaign ideas.
"It was actually a dream situation for a small shop," the pair tell Muse. "Joe told us he was looking to make some funny work, take some chances and even be a little controversial. We didn't have to waste any time or energy on a multi-round pitch. We were able to just dig in and get to work."
Below, Clarke and Senese sound off about other aspects of the campaign's creation:
The farty truth in advertising.
"Ironically, the idea was the result of us both brain farting simultaneously. We had been kicking around concepts for a couple of days and hit a wall. After one of those long, uncomfortable silences where the two of us were just staring off into space, someone blurted out, 'Is there anything with brain farts?' We laughed, then immediately wrote it off as something that would never see the light of day. But it was one of those things we just kept coming back to. We were like, 'Well, it's definitely a thing. People talk about brain farts. And if it's part of the vernacular, then it's fair game.' "
Farts make total sense.
"The more we thought about it, the more it made total sense. In the end, we included it as one of three campaigns we presented. The next morning, we got a massive email from Joe. Right out of the gate he told us, 'I've been up all night, thinking about this from every angle. We HAVE to produce Brain Farts.' It was just one of those ideas you had to sit with to realize it's not so stupid."
Cartoons blow out live-action.
"When we first presented the idea, it was meant to be a live-action shoot, but of course Covid shut down sets and forced us to reassess everything. At first it was pretty frustrating because we thought we had a fantastic script. We naturally fell into the trap of wanting to throw our hands in the air and say, 'Thanks a lot, 2020!' But we realized pivoting to animation was a godsend because we weren't going to be limited to just the gags we could pull off on a one-day, single-location shoot. Suddenly the whole world opened up and the idea felt bigger. So as unfortunate as the Covid shutdown was, it forced us to get under the hood and make the script even funnier."
Farting at young professionals.
"Originally we wanted to target young professionals in environments like the movie Office Space. Basically men and women 25-35 who are just trying to grind it out in white-collar jobs. But since brain farts are so universal, it allowed us to widen the target a little bit, so now we're talking to anyone looking to give their brain and body a little boost. That includes professionals spending eight hours a day on Zoom calls."
How'd they create those farty sounds, hmm?
"This probably won't come as much of a surprise, but there are a lot of professional recordings of farts in the world. We're pretty sure we listened to all of them. Now here's the thing with farts—they're like snowflakes, no two are alike. They all have their subtle differences, and it's not as simple as just throwing any old fart against picture. You really need to match the mood and action of what's going on. What I'm trying to say is that there's an art to it, and Matt Vescovo at GifyTube is the Andy Warhol of farts!
"As for a look, we were fortunate enough to be dealing with a client that was already using illustration in their branding. We took some aesthetic cues from the Bird Brain logo to set the tone, but we gave ourselves the freedom to create our own weird little universe. The goal was to have characters who were engaging enough to stand out, but at the end of the day the brain farts needed to be the heroes."
Blowholes in our heads?
"Our favorite parts of this project were the awkward moments where we'd find ourselves having incredibly serious, impassioned conversations about the most ridiculous topics. For instance, with the brain farts themselves there was a lot of conversation around the mechanics of what's going on. Should a brain fart blow a ponytail strait up or to the side? Can they fog up glass? Where are they actually coming from? We never really answered that last question. We all just sort of agreed everyone has a tiny blowhole in their head like dolphins."
The media buy will focus on Facebook and Instagram, with a secondary presence on YouTube in the form of :15 and :06 pre-rolls.
Client: Bird Brain Energy
Creative Directors: Lawson Clarke, Jude Senese
Art Director: Jude Senese
Writers: Lawson Clarke, Jude Senese, Matt Vescovo
Production Company: GifyTube
Director: Matt Vescovo
Animators: Matt Vescovo, Nancy Vescovo
Sound Design: Matt Vescovo
Mixer: Mike Letourneau