Late last month, Instagram unveiled a new brand platform, themed "Yours to Make," anchored by a 95-second film from Johannes Leonardo. While the debate intensifies around the social network's troubling effect on teenagers' self-esteem, the "Yours to Make" campaign emphasizes the positive effects Instagram may have on identity.
" 'Yours to Make' showcases how you can explore who you are with Instagram," the brand says in a blog post. "For young people, identity isn't defined, it's something that's constantly explored—whether that means connecting more deeply with the people that matter to you, discovering and experimenting with new interests, or sharing your perspective, however work-in-progress it may be."
JL's film offers a theatrical, stylized vision of such exploration—with young people seen against black backgrounds, experimenting, through the app, with themselves and their communities.
To learn more about the campaign, Muse spoke with JL group creative directors Jeph Burton and Hunter Hampton about the creation of the film and the agency's partnership with Instagram and the CreativeX team.
Muse: What's it been like to work with Instagram?
Jeph: Instagram and the CreativeX teams are some of the smartest, most imaginative marketers out there. As ubiquitous a product and brand as Instagram is, narrowing in on its unique benefit of helping its consumers discover who they are and can be was a Herculean effort.
Hunter: We couldn't have asked for better partners.
Tell us a bit more about the insight behind "Yours To Make."
Jeph: The world is going through a collective reappraisal of who we are, who we can be, who we want to be. Perhaps the hardest-hit by this cause for self-reflection, this urge to figure out what this weird world is and where you want to craft your place in it, is the generation that is coming into their own now.
So when you pause and think about the enormous role Instagram plays in our lives—from connecting us to art, music, styles, causes and all the people behind them—you really begin to see its importance. How it informs your interests, niches, your points of view.
And then it hits you—that we're all just figuring it out as we go along. No matter whether you're in college or reaching retirement, who you are, who you can be, is really and truly "Yours to make."
How did you come up with the idea for the execution (production, etc.)?
Hunter: We wanted to bring to life a ritual we all do: raise our phones and shed light on what we come across that's interesting or inspiring to us. These videos and images captured with our phone's camera—whether a performer at a concert, a close friend, a weird interest, ourselves—shows and shapes the world into who we can be.
Jeph: "Instead of running the usual manifesto or song with repurposed lyrics, we tried an experiment: We turned our soundscape into a sonic portrait of what our audience is thinking about, what's keeping them up at night, or inspiring them.
We conducted over 40 interviews, asking our cast to not only respond as truthfully as they could, but to also ask what was on their collective minds, and made an auditory collage that became an exchange of curiosities and ideas. The result turned out so much more emotional, real, and charming than we thought it would be.
It felt like a project realized with super ambitious, maybe slightly naïve friends—not a commercial. Maybe that's because ultimately, that's what it is.
Directors Jason Sondock and Simon Davis of rubberband brought a sincerity to the camera that was so special to us. You feel the bumps, the permission to go left-of-center (literally), the imperfections. Perfect is boring. And we wanted you to see that if you had enough time, enough ingenuity, you could maybe make this, too.
Hunter: One thing we're extremely excited about is this idea of the "phone-out"—an idea born from Iwan Zwarts and the team at Blacksmith, who were initially going to do a film-out, but as the film came together, realized a new idea of embracing what it feels like to view something on digital surfaces and leaned into that.
If you look carefully, you'll see not only the pixelation of a phone, but also the fingerprints, the smudges here and there, that catch the light. It was instantly something new. Another layer of honesty. Another surprise.
What's your favorite part of the film?
Jeph: The soundscape is my favorite part of the film. We genuinely got to know this talented, creative group of people—not just put them in front of a camera, but put them at the center of the story we were telling. It's so much more authentic than anything we could've written. So much fresher than just a track to do our heavy lifting. We've always said that the best creative work isn't just communication, it's contribution—and that's what this feels like.
Hunter: It's the range of ways the camera is treated for me. Sometimes treated as roughly as our phones are, getting swiped by hands or dropped, then going to beautiful smooth moves. The play there, and jarring perspective shifts, really boosted the exploratory energy.
Can you share any anecdotes from the set?
Hunter: There was so much was happening between multiple photo and video shoots. At one point the monitors were divided across four feeds of things happening in different corners of the lot. It was such beautifully organized chaos, and honestly the more run-and-gun energy really lended itself to variance among the final assets that gives this campaign more of the breadth you experience on the platform.
Can you tease what's to come on Instagram?
Hunter: We're all feeling a lot of energy behind the campaign and what we can do next, but how the world views, uses, and experiences Instagram changes daily. Whatever we do next will be an effort to inspire with even more of what we think makes the platform worth 1 billion-or-so people's time every day.
Jeph: Without giving too much away, this is the first step in outlining the brand ambition. In the coming months and years, "Yours to Make" will continue to expand on how we figure out who we are, and who we can be, in the most surprising, honest ways possible.
Campaign Title: Yours To Make | Brand Film & Photography
Spot Title: Yours To Make
VP of Marketing: Melissa Waters
Head of Creative, CX: Sue Anderson
Creative Director: Erica Fahr Campbell
Integrated Marketing Lead: Jennifer Garcia
Integrated Marketing Manager: Chloe Bower
Integrated Marketing Manager EMEA: Jason Miller
Integrated Marketing Manager: Chandni Shah
Designer: Tony Loftus
Program Manager: Rosie Breen
Program Manager: Priya Singh
Brand Strategy & Management: Catherine Heath
Brand Strategy: Jeremy Schumann
Marketing Insights: Aaron Anderson
Production Strategist: Betsy Beale
CX Producer: Whitney Ferris
Production Strategist: Julian Katz
AGENCY: JOHANNES LEONARDO
Chief Creative Officer / Founder: Jan Jacobs
Chief Creative Officer / Founder: Leo Premutico
President: Bryan Yasko
Managing Director: Emily Wilcox
Group Creative Director: Jeph Burton
Group Creative Director: Hunter Hampton
Copywriter: Joshua Lampley
Art Director: Austin Haas
Head of Production: Maria Perez
Executive Producer: Tina Diep
Senior Producer: Siobhan Spence-Edwards
Senior Art Buyer: Emily Heller
Senior Producer: Rose Mahan
Senior Print Producer: Christie Dwyer
Associate Producer: Melissa Espinosa
Associate Producer: Andrea Jacob
Design Director: Joseph Dasaro
Senior Designer: Shaung Wan
Senior Designer: Riley Hooker
Junior Designer: Lewi Yonas
Group Account Director: Dom Dalton
Group Account Director: Haley Mazza
Account Supervisor: Stephanie Loucas
Account Supervisor: Audrey Thorn
Account Supervisor: Tiff Liu
Account Manager: Shanice Greene
Director of Business Affairs: Alesa Blanchard-Nelson
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Susan Spight
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Denise Klapp
Business Affairs Manager: Emilly Tan
Group Strategy Director: Emily Elias
Head of Communications Strategy: Megan Piro
Strategy Director: V. Murali
Communications Strategy Director: Annie Yuan
Associate Strategy Director: Eileen Zhao
Senior Communications Strategist: Abel Rodriguez
Junior Strategist: Kofi Aidoo
Project Manager: Shauna Blaize
Director of Communications: Elizabeth Hess
PRODUCTION COMPANY: SMUGGLER
DP: Oliver Millar
Executive Producer: Patrick John Milling-Smith
Executive Producer: Brian Carmody
Executive Producer: Sue Yeon Ahn
Line Producer: Carmen Bosley
Production Designer: Miranda Lorenz
Stylist: Eric McNeal
Hair Stylist: Jayson Medina
Makeup Artist: Jenn Hanching
CASTING: SHAY NIELSEN CASTING
Casting Director: Shay Nielsen
Casting Agent: Erika Angel
EDITORIAL COMPANY: CABIN
Editor: Robert Lopuski
Assistant Editor: Katie Pehowski
Senior Producer: Joanna Hall
Executive Producer: Adam Becht
VISUAL EFFECTS & COLOR: BLACKSMITH
VFX Supervisor: Iwan Zwarts
Lead Compositor(s): Iwan Zwarts, Marco Barrato
Compositor: Ben Kwok
Compositor: Hannah Wilk
Compositor: Jacob Slutsky
Compositor: Molly Intersimone
Compositor: Thomas Panayiotou
Compositor: Yebin Ahn
CG Generalist: Olivier Varteressian
CG Generalist: Tuna Unalan
R&D: Romulo Pinheiro
Colorist: Mikey Pehanich
Color Assistant: Sam Howells
Executive Producer: Charlotte Arnold
Producer: Ashley Goodwin
Producer: Sophie Mitchell
MUSIC COMPOSTION: WALKER
Senior Executive Producer: Sara Matarazzo
Composer: Asher Kurtz
Music Supervisor: Sarah Tembeckjian
Chief Engineer: Chris Nungary
Chief Engineer: Chris Keyes
Assistant Engineer & Audio Dialogue Collage: Garrett Chabot
Senior Producer: Dottie Scharr
Associate Producer: Jendayi Bonds
SOUND DESIGN & MIX: SONIC UNION
Mix Engineer/Sound Designer: Steve Rosen
Mix Engineer/Sound Designer: Kelly Oostman
Dolby Atmos Mix Engineer: Joe O'Connell
Audio Post Producer: Patrick Sullivan
Photographer: Sophie Hur
PRODUCTION COMPANY: CONNECT THE DOTS
Executive Producer: Wes Olsen
Producer: Hannah Murphy
Lighting Designer: Ashley Markle
Photo Assistant: Jonnie Chambers
Photo Assistant: Carolin Schild
Digital Technician: James Goethals
Wardrobe Assistant: Sage M. McKee
H/MU Assistant: Jesica Southard
Production Assistant: Brandon Fried
Executive Producer: Colleen Cavanaugh
Production Manager: Chelsea Van Arsdol
Production Coordinator: Randall Collett
Head of Production: Carly Lagoda
Project Producer: Alexis Everhart
Project Researcher: Mike Kho
Project Researcher: Chelsea Zerbe
Project Researcher: Nathalie Dortonne
Project Researcher: Itzel Sarabia
Project Researcher: Jeffrey Harland
Project Researcher: Craig Phillips
RETOUCHER: PICTURE HOUSE
Retouching Producer: Christina Martinez
Retoucher: Conan Thai
GRAPHICS STUDIO D/OOH: SALT STUDIO
Director of Operations: Joe Savattieri
Sr. Project Manager: Tony Cardinale
Sr. Project Manager: Jackie Marco
Studio System Manager: Tom Stachula
CGI Manager: Matt Lager
Sr. CGI Artist: Bryan Martinez
Sr. Retouching Artist: John Chan
PRINTER: SANDY ALEXANDERR
Vice President Sales: Victor Klien
Senior Account Manager: Kelley Lipton
Director of color management: Frank Garcia
Production Designer: Anamaria Setti
DIGITAL DISPLAY DEVELOPER: WE ARRE VOLUME
Chief Production Officer: Benny Martin
Project Manager: Holland Flinn
Senior Developer: Sergio LoDolce
QA: Tmar Bowen