Ride a dragon's regal wings on quests of high adventure ... or crunch numbers in a spreadsheet until boredom melts your soul. Which would you prefer?
In "The Tavern," an enjoyable live-action World of Warcraft trailer developed by Swedish agency INGO, a warrior and priest compare the game's Azeroth universe with the real world.
- Warrior: "I suffer from terrible visions. A mundane world filled with humans ... Instead of becoming shamans and death knights, they choose to become project managers and sales reps. They're ruled over by powerful bosses that reside atop glass towers, where no weapons are allowed."
- Priest: "Then, how are they supposed to kill the bosses?"
- Warrior: "They can't. They don't even make it past middle management."
Naturally, the spot positions WoW as an epic alternative, where cube-jockeys can escape drudgery and indulge their heroic fantasies.
Props to INGO copywriter writer Philip Frendberg and Bacon director Bart Timmer for creating an immersive, wholly satisfying 90 seconds that vividly encapsulate the WoW proposition through sharp conversation (with a dash of swordplay unsheathed at the end).
The satire hits home, no pricey effects required, with pleasantly understated performances by Ade Dimberline and Judita DaSilva as the warrior and priest.
Here's another salient exchange:
- Priest: "Do they fly on the backs of dragons? ... Scour the world for legendary items? ... Is there any wonder in this world?"
- Warrior: "The only items of wonder in this world are tiny dark portals they carry with them everywhere. They stare at them for house and ... scroll."
- Priest: "What a waste of time!"
Thankfully, Blizzard recently released a free-to-play mobile game, Arclight Rumble, so those portals won't seem quite so empty anymore.
"We tried to find humor by reflecting on our world through the eyes of computer game characters, so it was fun to make them a bit boomer-ish regarding phones," Frendberg says. "WoW is definitely more fun than scrolling. They'd probably have a blast with Arclight Rumble if someone taught them how to play."
Below, Frendberg explains how he approached the brief and discusses the attention to detail and abundant Easter eggs in "The Tavern."
Muse: The warrior and priest are generic WoW types, not playable personalities, yes?
Philip Frendberg: They are not specific characters since we wanted to create our own story. There's also something interesting in focusing on peripheral personalities who are just trying to live their lives in Azeroth.
You're targeting newbies, casual fans or the hardcore crowd?
We're talking to gamers who've heard of WoW but haven't played it yet. We were trying to find ways to tackle some of their barriers to entry. We tried different ways of comparing the game to real life, but it all sort of clicked when we turned it around and let the game reflect on our world instead.
Well, you do a great job of conveying WoW's atmosphere.
We worked with craftspeople to create props and wardrobe that were faithful to the game without necessarily being exact replicas. I've played a lot of World of Warcraft and love fantasy in general, so I had a sense of the tone from the start. But we also had an amazing collaboration with Blizzard, and we collaborated to get the details right. This is the real world to our characters, so even if the premise and dialogue are humorous, our characters are dead serious. I think that approach honors the game as well.
So many Easter eggs...
We thought we were being real subtle, but of course it took about three seconds for the internet to find them. We've got...
- Pepe the bird. He's a popular critter that sometimes rides on people's heads. You can catch him hanging on top of the stall in the opening shot. Blink and you'll miss him.
- The poster that one of the adventurer tears down is a reference to a quest where you kill an enemy and turn in his claw (which the adventurer is carrying). It's not very hard, which is why the people in the tavern aren't that impressed with the feat.
- And I spent a lot of time working with our graphic designer Kalle Garmark perfecting a portrait of Anduin Wrynn, the King of Stormwind, the city you see in the background in the opening. If you squint and turn up the brightness you can just barely see it hanging on the wall 13 seconds into the film.
Any special significance to the tavern itself?
There are many taverns in the game. And the music piece in the film is called "Taverns" and can be heard in-game as well. But the reason we chose a tavern for the film is because it's a natural way to feature many different characters and showcase the game.
How'd the shoot go down?
We filmed in Budapest on this amazing backlot that's built like a medieval town. Azeroth isn't really medieval, so we had to do some work to make it look right. The tavern was built inside one of the buildings there.
There was a heatwave, but whatever discomfort we were feeling was quickly forgotten when we saw the actors walking around in these heavy armors and garments all day. And on top of that, we were shooting in a tavern filled with candles and a roaring fireplace. But I never heard anyone complain.
To make sure we had the community represented, we had three cosplayers acting in the film: Osanguine, Cinderys and Dancing Fox. They brought their own costumes, which they make themselves, and we were all blown away by their craftsmanship. And pleasantly surprised by their acting!
Client: Activision Blizzard
Vice President EMEA Marketing: Daniel Green
Consumer Marketing Manager EMEA: Tom Read
VP Warcraft Franchise Management: Aleksander Olszowka
Warcraft Franchise Director: Rafael Zuana
Warcraft Marketing Manager: Michael Vousden
Chief Marketing Officer: Fernando Machado
Chief Creative Officer: Pelle Sjönell
Agency: INGO Stockholm
CCO: Björn Ståhl
Copywriter: Philip Frendberg
Project Manager: Rickard Allstrin
Production Manager: Klara Jonssons
Tech Director: Stefan Kindgren
Graphic Designer: Kalle Garmark
Production Company: Bacon
Director: Bart Timmer
Executive Producer: Sam Cantor
Producer: Henrik Berthelsen
Director Assistant: Máté Boegi
Dop: Sebastian Blenkov
Editor: Robin Siwe
Head of Communication: Lasse Cato
Post production: Colony Post
VFX Supervisor: Joel Bringmark
Sound design: Quint Starky
Agency Production: Colony
Agency Producer: Markus Ahlm