Creatives from BBH Singapore share the ideas that sparked the campaign for Filipino food chain Jollibee and how they brought their vision to life
Much has been said about preserving memories of the pandemic to tell the next generation who were unable to experience the sheer indescribable moments that 2020 brought us – and that 2021 is still doing. It was this that propelled BBH Singapore to create a campaign for Filipino fast-food restaurant Jollibee set in New York in the year 2060.
The three-minute film hails itself as ‘a message from the future’ through the eyes of a Filipino migrant and his family. What follows is unlike the usual campaigns created for Jollibee and touches upon a more emotional and nostalgic note as we are taken through the family’s highs and lows during the pandemic. The message the film conveys is a universal one about coming together during hard times, but the small touches from the black-and-white transition to colour and the excitement over an at-home haircut are sure to bring emotion aplenty.
To hear more about creating this global campaign for Jollibee LBB’s Natasha Patel caught up with BBH Singapore’s chief strategic officer Jacob Wright, creative director Gaston Soto, senior strategist Zoe Chen and account director Victoria Fernandez.
LBB> The campaign is all about celebrating our family, but what was the initial brief and how did you get to this end idea?
Jacob> In the Philippines, Jollibee is THE iconic family restaurant and a place where many happy nostalgic memories are made. So our initial brief from the client was to do something about the joy of family during the pandemic. We felt that it was very important to represent the experiences of ordinary people who might not have been able to work from home via laptop, as this hasn’t been dealt with by most brands. So we wanted to find a way to deal with the pain and challenges these families have experienced but still deliver a positive and hopeful story.
The key moment was in a creative review when Sascha (our CCO) showed the reference of Peter Jackson’s film of the First World War that had been colourised and talked about doing that in reverse - making people see the present day as ancient history. We realised that this was the key insight - when people look back on hard times they experienced long ago, they tend to draw out the positives. So we decided to make a film, set in the future, where the protagonist looks back on his hard times during the pandemic and draws a positive conclusion about family from them.
LBB> How did you get director Law Chen involved in this?
Gaston> Finding the right partner was half of the job. We tried to Zag from the beginning, we were looking for directors closer to the documentary/cinema world rather than from advertising. Wendi, our executive producer (and project MVP) suggested Stink and Law. It clicked from the very first meeting. Law not only brought us the opportunity to portray a story of an immigrant family in NYC, also his artistic eye to narrate the story was something we all felt engaged with from day one.
LBB> Jollibee campaigns often tell a story, but what made this campaign so different to any they've done before?
Zoe> Jollibee is best known for their Kwentong Jollibee films - real stories told in a light-hearted way. However with the current global state of affairs, we decided to do a film that stirred personal reflection - something that felt true to the contemporary moment rather than an ideal - accompanied by a cinematic treatment that would capture one’s journey from despair to joy. This film is also part of Jollibee’s first-ever Family Thanksgiving Month, a month-long celebration of gratitude and thanksgiving that will become an annual tradition for the brand moving forward.
LBB> Was the client on board with a different style of messaging?
Victoria> When we first presented the script to the clients, there was a moment of silence. We were slightly nervous at first, because this was quite different from Jollibee’s usual campaigns. But it turned out that the clients were so moved by the script that they were rendered speechless, and emotional - it had hit home, especially with the situation in the Philippines recently. The clients love that this was a bold story that doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable reality we are living in, yet offers a message of hope and positivity in even the toughest of times, which is very much in line with the brand.
LBB> What were the biggest challenges with creating this campaign?
Gaston> Remote shoots are not ideal, especially with New York - Singapore time zones in mind. We had almost daily check-ins with Law to plan every step; there were long hours but it was totally worth it. The casting: although the Filipino population in NY is huge, finding the right talent during the pandemic was not an easy task. Another challenge was doing the “film out” process, which is transferring digital to film (not a common practice in advertising). It's basically like developing film in the old days, the outcome is unpredictable. But that is what we wanted, and it turned out to be incredible. The finished product is real and there are things that computers can't replicate. The nostalgia that film as a medium gives the first part of A Message from the Future is outstanding.
LBB> There are so many messages of hope, thankfulness and family unity throughout this but, what for you is the main takeaway for viewers?
Victoria> A change in perspective. From pining for things that now seem far away, to cherishing our families who have become closer. From taking what we had for granted, to appreciating what we have. From an outlook that is bleak and depressing, to one full of hope against the odds.
LBB> What is your favourite part of the campaign?
Zoe> The reactions to the film. We have received so many positive comments on how it has brought about a message of hope and a fresh perspective on the pandemic. That is exactly what we had set out to achieve and what we know will get all of us through these dark times.
LBB> Is this new direction one the brand is planning to go in?
Zoe> Yes. There was an important realisation during a client discussion that there is no official holiday or celebration of families in the Philippines. As a brand that is centred around joy and family, Jollibee wants to take the lead in reminding everyone of the joy of family and showing gratitude to our loved ones. That was the birth of Jollibee’s Family Thanksgiving month, an initiative that Jollibee will turn into the brand’s annual tradition that we are proud to be a part of.
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
Victoria> We’ve gone quite bold with Jollibee’s first global brand campaign, and the result is something that both Jollibee and BBH are proud of. We hope that our film will send a message of hope to viewers and help them see the past year in a new light. We can’t wait to do more work that brings joy to audiences globally for Jollibee - and we thank the client team for their bravery and trust to deliver this.
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