Rosemary Griggs, a Bay Area flight attendant who lost her father to Covid-19, refuses to give up on herself or lose hope for the future.
Along with other front-line workers, she appears in Erich & Kallman's first campaign for Oxigen, a bottled water infused with oxygen and electrolytes to speed recovery.
"Everything that's happening to you, for good or bad, is changing you,” Griggs says in the 60-second spot below. “I think it's important to focus on changing for the better. In a way, it's a really beautiful time."
Themed "Recover+Rise," the work breaks the mold for the category, offering quiet, documentary-style stories of struggle and transcendence—with the startup's bottles making appearances that some might find a tad distracting. Even so, the understated direction of Caruso Company's Doug Walker lets the human element shine through.
"Launching during this unique moment in history, it was only right that the brand honor all the essential workers overcoming difficulties and rising to the occasion for all of us right now," E&K creative chief and co-founder Eric Kallman tells Muse.
Along with Rosemary, we meet a nurse, bus driver, teacher and journalist, each struggling to make sense of the new normal and bolster their communities:
Classy move, by the way, including Han the reporter, especially in an age where the news media so frequently comes under fire.
An anthem spot presents snippets of the individual stories and works toward a new definition of "essential":
"We realize now that nothing is essential," the narrator says, "because something can't be. Rather, it's someone, a person, people—a workforce." Ultimately, we're told, "To be essential is to show up for the kids, the job, the world, and yourself. To be essential is to recover from it all and to rise again tomorrow."
Straightforward and affecting, the work feels unforced and on brand. In the age of coronavirus, the ability to "Recover+Rise" to face fresh challenges every day seems more urgent than ever. Plus, the approach makes sense on a primal level, as water is essential to the human condition, making up 60 percent of our bodies.
Of course, many campaigns have celebrated essential workers amid the pandemic. The Ad Council and Alicia Keys sang their praises, while e-commerce company Mercado Libre staged ultra-intimate concerts to thank folks for their service. In Finland, S-Group profiled some of its grocery-store employees in a heartfelt, frequently harrowing film.
"I think people are tuning out the endless montage videos and thank-you pieces, but these firsthand stories stand out," says Kallman.
"Hearing these essential workers' stories straight from their own mouths was a powerful experience," he says. "They put themselves in harm's way while focusing only on helping others. Their resilience is inspiring and made all of us non-essential workers realize how easy we've got it in comparison."
"Frontline workers are the real heroes who are risking their lives by stepping up for others and their communities every day," basketball star Steph Curry, an Oxigen investor, says in a statement. "It's now up to us to acknowledge and appreciate their service."
The media buy includes TV, social media, out-of-home placements and websites such as the Washington Post, Refinery29, Vice and Bleacher Report. For some campaign elements, the subjects posed atop different work-related objects to illustrate the "rising" theme.
"Our flight attendant Rosemary bravely stood for her portrait on a pile of airline luggage and didn't tell us she suffers from vertigo until she was done," Kallman recalls.
Client: Joen Choe, VP of Marketing
Edith Yeh, Brand Manager
Sam Liu, Marketing Coordinator
Creative Agency: Erich & Kallman
Chief Creative Office: Eric Kallman
Managing Director: Steve Erich
Copywriter: Allie Carr
Art Director: Stacie Larsen
Head of Production: Olivia Baker
Account Director: Laura Miley
Producer: Sofia Aguilar
PR: Konnect Agency
Media: Grain Group
Production Co: Caruso Company
Director: Doug Walker
DP: Norman Bonney
EP: Robert Caruso
Motion Design: Tom Yaniv
Color & Finish: 1606 Studio
Mix: Mark Pitchford - M Squared
Asche & Spencer