Good Plants Are Gone to Seed in Hornbach's Spring Gardening Spot

It's TLC time for your neglected shrubbery

Spring is here! And Hornbach says hello with an ad as offbeat as we've come to expect from them.

Created by Heimat Berlin with production by Stink, "Unleashed" is a two-minute romp through suburbia as the local truants turn it upside-down. 

In this case, though, the bad seeds are literally plants. They've stolen their negligent owner's car and are joyriding—scaring the local fauna, knocking over trash cans, vomiting excess matter into alleyways, and picking up hitchhikers—as they make for the nearest Hornbach. 

Hornbach | Unleashed

The spot ends with the tagline, "Come to Hornbach. Before your garden does."

"Unleashed" is a playful nudge about springtime responsibilities for gardeners or plant people. Now is the time to replant if necessary, refresh beds, fertilize, prune with love, remove old plants before they drop seeds, and introduce new ones before you need them.

It's the frisky season! And if you can't be trusted to ensure your pollinating pals are at their finest, well … they'll just steal your car. Self-care's a real priority these days.

"Each new campaign is an obligation for us to add a new, remarkable chapter for customers to the book of the Hornbach brand," says Thomas Schnaitmann, Hornbach's head of brand international. "Always the project construction market at its core, always unexpected and fresh in its packaging."

In December, Hornbach's "From You" offered up the silent but relatable frustrations of DIYers who've finished a project, only to discover there's some minor, maddening thing wrong with it. That ad ended in a way that felt especially appropriate for the holiday season: It's the artistic quality of errors, or your imperfect fixes, that serve as your gift to the creation.

The difference in tone between that work and this one is striking, but only if you don't know the brand that well. Hornbach has a talent for sudden swings, like your really random friend. It's given us DIY contemporary art with Ai Weiwei, the tragicomedy of a shrunken man, and an incredibly zen public toilet, among other things (who will ever forget this classic? Or this one?).

But the red thread is its sense of heart. There's lots of reasons you may be engaging in DIY, fix-it or gardening work; certainly the pandemic has broadened interest for such projects. Whatever the reasons, you kind of want it all to matter when it's done, or even in the doing. So a lot of its previous ads have been about catharsis, or fantasy, or locating some inner wild version of yourself.

"Unleashed" is about the other side of that coin: responsibility. When you invest this much time, care and effort into your environment, you've got something more than a hobby; it's a relationship, a conversation. Unsurprisingly, the things you've begun interacting with start expecting things from you.

This is clearest in the lyrics of the ad's hair-metal-inspired song: "Fertilize us. Respect us!"

"Unleashed" will appear on TV in iterations of varied sizes, and in theaters. It's supported by a series of 15-second ads:

"Special Effects?!" is a fictionalized interview with the ad's director.
"Divas on Set" reveals the director's travails with feckless talent.

The last three ads swing away from "behind the scenes" and do some kind of corny, but acceptable, scary story thing instead. The pitch is, some looming thing scares a plant, but it actually turns out to be lovely.

"The Rake of the Night"
"Scissors or Horror"
"Fertilizer in the Dark"


Campaign: "Unleashed"
Spot name: "Come to HORNBACH. Before your garden does." 
Media (international): cinema, TV, OOH (18/1, CLP, DOOH, ambient), social media, POS, radio, website, banners

From March 18, the teaser phase of the campaign starts in the DACH region. 
The official campaign launch is then on March 26. 
Other regions will follow.

Agency: Heimat Berlin
Production: Stink Berlin
Director: Traktor
Music: Finger Music and Sound Design
Sound Design: David Arnold (LOFT)

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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