A new campaign for Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) by creative agency, BSSP. To celebrate the Festival’s 41st year of showcasing the best in independent and world cinema, the team created a campaign that not only highlights its rich history, but also promotes the importance of preserving the element of surprise in great film with a faux product designed to detect film spoilers.
Universally, movie goers hate when someone spoils the film they’re watching. In this campaign, fictitious spokesperson Bill O’Brian, Chief Visionary at Ecosystem Industries, takes the stage at a tech conference to unveil his company’s latest creation – The Spoiler Alert. An image of the physical device appears onscreen behind him as he addresses an expectant crowd, claiming:
“The Spoiler Alert is a revolutionary voice recognition smart device that alerts you when someone around you is about to spoil a film. It’s got voice recognition technology, a built-in movie database, cinephile presence sensor, and an optional high pitched sound frequency cannon. Is this device eavesdropping all the time? You bet it is.”
Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.
BSSP is the Mill Valley Film Festival’s agency partner. Every year, we create and produce a campaign aimed at getting people excited about the Mill Valley Film Festival. We’re tasked with everything from ideation, writing, art direction, and design to production, shooting, editing, and finishing.
Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?
Mill Valley is a quaint little town in the wooded hills a few miles north of San Francisco. Think granola and puffer jackets. The last place you’d ever expect a film festival. With this campaign, we wanted to cement the Mill Valley Film Festival as an inherent part of this area. Just like redwoods and raccoons, film is a part of here.
For the poster, that meant using design elements that are connected to this area.
But for the trailer and social media pieces, we decided to take a more comedic approach. Mill Valley is close to Silicon Valley, so we imagined what would happen if Mill and Silicon Valley joined forces to solve one of the most significant problems in film today: the movie spoiler. The idea was to disguise our trailer as a product launch for a device called: The Spoiler Alert. A nifty little gadget that warns people when someone around them is about to spoil a movie.
We took a page out of HBO’s Silicon Valley and leaned into clichés that are all too common in the world of tech and ridiculous product inventions.
The main piece of this campaign was a product launch presentation, but we didn’t stop there. We also shot a teaser video to get people’s curiosity going, and we created spots that showed the Spoiler Alert preventing movie spoilers in real life.
Tell us about the creative brief, what did it ask?
The brief was straightforward: announce the Mill Valley Film Festival in an ownable way.
Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work?
The campaign was based on the insight that Mill Valley is close to Silicon Valley. But within this insight, we needed a problem Mill, and Silicon Valley could solve together. We imagined a horde of cinephiles gathering in a small town and talking film. We figured that when people talk film, they spoil film. The Spoiler Alert was born.
Can you share with us any alternative ideas (if any) for this campaign? Why was this idea chosen?
We shared three rough ideas with the client, this one floated to the top because it was ownable, fresh, and had stopping power.
How did the client initially react to this idea?
They loved it.
What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development?
Pulling off comedy is hard. We needed an actor that could get away with playing an overly confident Silicon Valley CEO, but we didn’t have the time or the budget for rounds of casting. Little did we know we had our own “Gavin Belson” (Mark Lewis) working in the planning department. Our producer noticed his raw talent and made him audition. Once we saw the casting video, we knew we could make this work.
What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience?
This entire campaign was made in-house. Ryan Graff, our Studio Manager, built the device. John Butler was our director. Our Technical Director, Jason, shot, edited, and finished all the footage featuring our actors, who are mostly BSSP employees. If there’s one thing we learned bringing this campaign to life, it’s that we have tons of talent within these walls.
Where do you see this campaign going in the future?
We’re hoping to score some VC funding for the Spoiler Alert so we can each buy an island.