There's a great scene in Among the Thugs, Bill Buford's book about hooliganism, where the author seems to be morphing into a thug as well. Having been exposed to so much callous behavior, he starts to exhibit it himself—roughly pushing an elderly couple aside on an escalator after returning from a brutal trip with the hooligans who followed Manchester United in the '80s.
There's a bit of the same dynamic in Droga5 London's first ads for Amazon Prime Video. In four amusing 60-second spots, viewers don't just get sucked into the streaming service's addictive TV shows—they identify so deeply with the characters that they begin to inhabit them.
For better or worse. Usually worse.
For us, the best of the four spots is "Vikings," focusing on the show of the same name. (Vikings airs on History in the U.S., but Amazon has the rights to it in the U.K. and Germany, where the new spots are airing.)
Our heroine in the spot starts to get sucked into the show, episode by episode, and soon she becomes a kind of honorary Norse woman, privately rebelling against her own drab life in a sudden, often violent metamorphosis that catches her co-workers, in particular, by surprise.
The theme is "Great Shows Stay With You."
On the other end of the spectrum is "Outlander," based on the Starz show (which also airs on Amazon in the U.K. and Germany). Rather than becoming ultra violent, our protagonists here suddenly find themselves ultra amorous—much to the dismay of bystanders in public.
The insight here—that obsessive TV watching must have some kind of empathetic effect on the psyche—rings true. And when you overdose on a show, why shouldn't it warp into something uncontrollable?
"Would it surprise you to learn that [the idea] came from one of our young teams?" Droga5 London chief creative officer David Kolbusz tells Muse. "Binge watching and the pathological addiction to multi-series television has been a much-discussed but underrepresented phenomenon, at least on a brand level. We thought there was something interesting in reflecting how periods of intense viewership could change a person. When you watch an action hero kick ass, you come away feeling a bit badass yourself. When you watch a lot of battle scenes, you feel like you can take on the world. You watch people making out in the Scottish highlands, you're bound to feel a little rosy-cheeked."
Two more spots focus on Lucifer (a Fox show in the U.S.) and Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan (an Amazon original).
Kolbusz says the creative team had a lot of shows to choose from, and wrote a lot of scripts. In the end, they worked with the client to choose executions that felt "the most interesting and credible"—all within a framework that wasn't too outlandish. Steve Rogers, who also helmed Droga5's Crocodile Dundee work, was the director.
"For instance, at one point we had a Jack Ryan script where a desk cop became way better at his job after watching the show," Kolbusz says. "Instinctively it just felt clichéd. Weirdly the campaign began as WAY more hyperbolic but over time we collectively decided that a less addy, more cinematic approach would be better. We wanted to make the spots feel like shows about characters you'd want to watch in their own right. In the end, the final scripts were really underwritten. Not much happened in them. It was actually a scary shoot to go into. We had to rely on the casting, direction, cinematography and music to bring them to life."
It must have been nice to have four :60s to work with.
"It was amazing. And down to our glorious clients," says Kolbusz. "Originally the request was for :30s, but as we moved away from broad comedy they instinctively understood that these stories of gradual, obsessive immersion needed time to be told. Amazon is committed to producing quality entertainment, and it seemed weird to sell that message in super short time lengths."
Client: Amazon Prime Video
Agency: Droga5 London
Chief Creative Officer: David Kolbusz
Art Directors: Dave Wigglesworth, Frazer Price
Copywriters: Ed Redgrave, Teddy Souter
Group Account Director: Heather Cuss
Strategy Director: Tim Whirledge
Agency Producers: Peter Montgomery, Goldie Robbens
Production Company: Somesuch & Co
Director: Steve Rogers
Executive Producer: Seth Wilson
Producer: Jane Lloyd
Production Manager: Alex Yiaxis
DOP: Daniel Landin
Production Designer: Kave Quinn
Costume: Rosa Dias
Hair and Makeup: Lou Hinton
Edit: The Quarry
Editors: Jonnie Scarlett, Jack Ryan and Outlander
Scot Crane, Vikings and Lucifer
Producer: Jenn Sanders
Postproduction: Electric Theatre Collective
2-D Artists: Matt Jackson, Omar Akari, Ally Burnett, Alex Grey, Christian Blok, Ant Walsham and Judy Roberts
Producers: Jon Purton, Jess Easton
Colorists: Jean-Clement Soret, Matthieu Toullet
Color Producer: Ellora Chowdhury
Sound Design and Mix: Sam Ashwell, Sam Robson
Producer: Mary-Ann D’Cruz
Music Supervision Hywel Evans
Music Composition Woodwork Music – Jack Ryan & Lucifer
Composer: Philip Kay
Music Composition: Wake The Town – Outlander
Composers: Ben McAvoy, Will Featherby
Media planning/buying: Initiative