Upwork's Singing Corpse Declares the Old Way of Working Is Dead

Alto robs the grave for a gleeful, outlandish musical

Your blowhard boss kicks the bucket. For some, that's a dream come true. But what if his corpse rose from the grave—George Romero-style, with pasty, rotting fresh—and began singing about the enlightened future of the workplace?

That's just another day ay the office in Alto's cheesy-freaky-Halloween-y new campaign for freelance marketplace Upwork:

This Is How We Work Now - Director’s Cut | Upwork

"We'll scale up, and we'll scale down.
Before you're six feet underground.
Yes this is how, how we work now.
Let the old ways of working kick the bucket.
Take a leap and just say, fuuuuu … reeedom.
Bye bye! Adios! Auf wiedersehen! Ciao!
Yes this is how, how we work now!"

Not-so-cryptic words to live by! And you've gotta love the tomb. Er, tune.

"There's something nice about a song in advertising," Upwork executive creative director Patrick Holly tells Muse. "Not only can it be super entertaining and fun, but if done right, it has some pretty awesome staying power in people's minds. We know we have a pretty important message to spread here, and what better way to spread it than by making entertaining work that sticks with people through a catchy melody?"

As for the idea to cast a decomposing corpse, "who better to represent the dusty, old, antiquated ways of working than a dead CEO from a bygone era?" Holly says. "He also serves as a clever creative device, functioning as a cognitive shortcut to signal the death of the old way of working. We also thought it'd be pretty funny."

Indeed it is, with Smuggler director Ivan Zacharias ratcheting up the campy brand-building shenanigans to an absurd level.

This stuff's a world away from Upwork's last big push from Alto, fronted by this sweeping, cinematic spot without a singing stiff in sight.

So, why the dramatic—and by dramatic, we mean bizarro—change in style?

"'This Is How We Work Now' is meant to plant a flag in the ground for our brand and inspire innovators to shed the old, repressive rules of work," Holly says. "To do that, we needed to shed our former selves to an extent, too. While prior brand efforts have been earnest, work-centric and cerebral, we intend on shaking things up with an updated tone and personality for the brand: the irreverent, truth-telling optimist who understands the future."

Upwork's deadvertising dawns today with :60, :30, :15 and :06 iterations of the hero spot, plus more than a dozen other original commercials and edits. So, the campaign won't die out any time soon.


Brand: Upwork
CMO: Melissa Waters
VP, Marketing: Amanda Leach-Rouvi
Executive Creative Director: Patrick Holly
Creative Director: Nick Scarlett
Design Director: Stephanie Munoz
Executive Producer: Bernadette Spear
Senior Brand Marketing Manager: Chanel Jackson

Agency: Alto
CCO, Founder: Hannes Ciatti
Managing Partner: Ed Rogers
Head of Entertainment + Production, Partner: Matt Bonin
Head of Strategy, Partner: Tara Fray            
Executive Creative Director: Jason Bagley
Creative Director: Brock Kirby
Creative Director: Jeff Dryer
Design Director: J. Collins
Group Brand Lead: Shannon Coletti
Senior Brand Lead: Ashley Bouldin
Executive Producer: Kim Cross
Head of Digital Production: Amber Wimmer
Director of Art Production: Julia Menassa
Integrated Production Associate: Marvin Cassell
Comms Planning Director: Josh Chang
Comms Planning Director: Charles Lee

Production Company: SMUGGLER
Director: Ivan Zacharias
DP: Jan Velicky
Producer: Nick Landon    
Founding Partner: Patrick Milling-Smith    
Founding Partner: Brian Carmody
Executive Producer: Allison Kunzman
Editor: Filip Malasek
Editor: Jim Hutchins
Assistant Editor: Gino Renzulli    
EP, HutchCo Edit: Jane Hutchins
Colorist @UPP: Ondrej Stibingr    
VFX/Finishing: Parliament
Music: Walker Music
Mix/Sound: Barking Owl

Photo Production Company: 3Star Production
Photographer: Emily Shur            
Photo Producer: Natalie Campbell            
Wardrobe Styling: Anna Su
Prop Styling: Faeth Gruppe
Hair & Makeup Artist: Erika Parsons
Retouching: Wet Noodles

Digital Production: Wild
Managing Partner, Design Director: Matthias Mentasti
Managing Partner, Technical Director: Thomas Ragger
Executive Producer: Amanda Schultz

David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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