WeTransfer Celebrates the Creative Power of Doubt and Uncertainty in Global Campaign

Preacher paves a path to enlightenment

In a global campaign breaking today, WeTransfer invites the creative community to harness uncertainty as a means of striving for better results and perfecting their work—with the company's products and services there to help, of course.

Preacher developed the initiative, "Doubt. Create. Repeat," anchored by this kicky film from Biscuit Filmworks director Daniel Warwick:

Doubt. Create. Repeat.

That's British actress Adwoa Akoto bursting through Van Gogh's "Starry Night," hobnobbing with astronauts and soaring through concert halls on visible wires with less than the greatest of ease.

"Should we question everything? Damn right we should!" she says at one point. "Unless of course you're perfectly happy with the way things are right now. Otherwise, keep those doubt coming and maybe go one step further. Why not climb down from the cheap seats and get up on stage?"

Akoto's performance really sells the concept amid the fun, cheeky visuals. And the theme feels in tune with WeTransfer's audience, especially during these rough pandemic times, as creative folks at all levels frequently grapple with self-doubt, harsh criticism and other challenges. Here, the company positions itself as an ally, keeping the pitch aspirational and light while dropping a brief mention of its collaboration and file-transfer suite of products—Paste, Paper and Collect—at the very end.

"In essence, each scene calls into question a human achievement—whether that's a wonder of the world, a universally recognized priceless work of art, or the endless stream of opinions clogging up our Twitter feeds," Preacher creative director Zach Watkins tells Muse. "The idea here is that all of these ideas can be improved upon—that human progress starts with a person looking at something and saying, 'Nope, not impressed. This isn't good enough.' As a company that makes creative tools, we felt WeTransfer was in a unique position to start this conversation."

That approach stems in part from a recent company survey in which 55 percent of 30,000 creatives polled reported feeling more uncertain than ever about their futures, with almost a third saying they experienced deep feelings of doubt.

"But then, quite remarkably, nearly half of the respondents also told us that they had more ideas than ever," says WeTransfer senior director of marketing Julia Shapiro. "This really got us thinking about the interesting tension that exists between doubt and the creative process. What if all of this collective doubt we were feeling as a society is actually acting as a catalyst for new ways of thinking?"

Such insights helped spur campaign development, though the brand has explored the relationship between doubt and creativity before, most notably in this 2017 book on the subject.

"WeTransfer has always had a close connection to creatives, and because of this, our work has typically been quite tailored to that community," Shapiro says. "The current unrest isn't limited to one community. These conversations are happening at societal level now, with a much broader audience."

This marks another instance of the company taking a somewhat counterintuitive route in its marketing, celebrating the concept of doubt a year after its "Please Leave" campaign urged folks to take a break from the internet, at least temporarily, so they could return refreshed and with new ideas. WeTransfer has also earned praise for its varied collaborations with artists such as FKA twigs, Björk and Grimes.

For "Doubt. Create. Repeat," it worked with media shop Noble People to "focus on safe online spaces. Places where people are seeking solitude from the current nastiness of the internet, and are still looking to be inspired," Shapiro says. Thus, along with WeTransfer's own channels, the work will run on Hulu, YouTube, SoundCloud and Song Exploder. Plus, the brand will sponsor a Vice News series telling stories of creators who develop activist content.

"This campaign is a rallying cry for creatives to put all of that questioning to work, but it's not really meant to stop there," Shapiro says. "Our message is for anyone feeling confused or helpless. It's a reminder that from doubts come great ideas for improvement. We're hopeful that this kind of optimism will be welcomed in the sea of doom-and-gloom we're seeing in the media."

Also today, WeTransfer spruces up its own brand identity with icons by Mackey Saturday, whose work includes logos for Instagram, Oculus and Luxe, along with a custom font by Grilli Type, a new color palette, and a design system intended to represent "the movement of ideas."

CREDITS

Client: WeTransfer
Chief Creative Officer: Damian Bradfield
Executive Creative Director: Nessim Higson
Senior Director of Marketing: Julia Shapiro
Director of Digital Marketing: Faye Ehrich
Brand Marketing Manager: Megan Falcon & Patrick Moore

Creative Agency: Preacher
Chief Creative Officer: Rob Baird
Chief Executive Officer: Krystle Loyland
Chief Strategy Officer: Seth Gaffney
Creative Directors: Marcus Brown & Zach Watkins
Brand Director: Stephanie Smith
Junior Brand Manager: Madison Goldston
Senior Copywriter: Chris Vandersall
Senior Art Directors: Elliot Eliash & J.J. Kraft
Designer: Thomas Sullivan
Strategy Director Marika Wiggan
Senior Strategist: Paola Ortega & Stephen Maroda
Executive Producer: Stacey Higgins
Senior Producer: Rachel Kichler
Business Affairs: Abbi Press & Miiko Martin

Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Partner/Managing Director: Shawn Lacy
Executive Producer: Andrew Travelstead
Director: Daniel Warwick
Line Producer: Jakob Rühle
DP: Ottar Gudnason
Production Designer: Florentina Schmid
Casting: DEEBEEPHUNKY

Edit House: Cartel
Executive Producer: Lauren Bleiweiss
Producer: Amanda Ornelas
Editor: Andy McGraw
Assistant Editor: Roy Herbert

Finish & Animation: The Mill
Executive Producer: Peter Hullinger
Producer: Rachel Burke
Creative Director: Ergin Kuke
Designers: Tetsuro Mise, Wendy Eduarte Briceno
2D Lead: Sal Wilson
2D Artists: Heidi Anderson, Alex Koester, Matthew Dobrez
Colorist: James Bamford
Color Assists: Megan Lee, Rory Leighton, Cassie Benedict

Music Supervisor: Good Ear Music Supervision

Mix: TBD Post
Sound Mixer: Dusty Albertz
Producer: Francess Tom-Sahr

Media Agency: Noble People

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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