The Body Shop’s all-new North American campaign “Spread Love,” created by certified WBENC women-owned agency Odysseus Arms, builds on the brand’s Self Love platform and celebrates the relaunch of a fully rejuvenated Body Butter – the brand’s best-selling and most iconic product. “Spread Love” was born from Odysseus Arms’ strategic process called Third3ye™, which builds campaigns around participation and feedback from real people. We spoke with Odysseus Arms’ Co-founder, CEO & Head of Art, Libby Brockhoff, to learn more about how “Spread Love” was brought to life.
Can you give us an overview of the campaign, and your role in the creation?
I’m the Creative Director.
People seemed to be crying out for a different kind of advertising. Given the difficult political discourse in the media, pivotal events in civil rights and a nasty, lingering virus, we decided to present an artful explosion of inclusivity, diversity and dance. At a store called The Body Shop, all bodies are welcome. To launch the biggest product of their retail year, we partnered with music video genius Alan Ferguson to present “Spread Love,” which ended up being a kind of high-voltage, precision-choreographed, whimsical film to promote the all-new Body Butters.
Long, long before someone came up with the B Corp certification, there were companies like The Body Shop. They’ve been an agent of sustainability, fair trade and a defender of self-respect and humanity since day one.
What was the inspiration behind the “Spread Love” campaign?
People. All body types and skin colors. At the center of anything good in the world is someone taking care of themselves. We needed to show bodies in their best light, so we went toward dance. Jemel McWilliams, of Alicia Keys choreography fame, arranged a large group of professional dancers around some of TikTok’s most famous dancers. He used the TikTok dance and helped us teach it to a large group of non-dancers.
When creating a story out of a product, unforeseen issues and difficulties can crop up, requiring a creative pivot. Were there any moments during the creation of the campaign that required pivoting?
We slammed into an injustice while we were concepting the campaign and decided to help address it. The pivot involved rapid reformulation of the casting, sourcing talent and working with Alan Ferguson to pull it off. On TikTok, African American dance artists were having their work routinely imitated without credit by some of the biggest, best-paid (generally white) influencers. Their dances went viral, and people got paid, but not them. We decided to center the casting around a group of these unsung dance heroes. So, we tracked down, which was tricky negotiating via DM, and hired a bunch of these creative folks and centered the entire “Spread Love” campaign around their art. The TikTokers created the dance.
What did you enjoy most about working on this campaign? Did you learn anything new from the experience?
When the shoot wrapped, the cast had grown so close, nobody wanted to go home. People described the set as the first “safe place” they’d experienced in film production where they could be themselves, shine and be beautiful. Some had been bullied frequently, so this wasn’t lost on anyone. Alan opened the shoot with a rousing speech tasking everyone to bring as much love, energy and good vibrations to the set as they could. What happened next was something you rarely get to experience and a lot of it made it to the final cut. Alan ordered up a layered, spiritually uplifting love fest with his large cast. He doesn’t shoot—it’s more like he paints with film. It’s a special thing when a shoot doesn’t feel like a shoot; it felt like you were part of this exclusive, one-off event to which you were lucky to be invited. Alan doesn’t make commercials so much as host amazing experiences that happen to be recorded on film.
Alan polished off the moment by inviting the entire cast to contact him if they ever needed a friend, some support or to express their love for life. Um… who does that?
Can you tell us about some of the most memorable moments from the shoot? Any behind the scenes stores you’d like to share?
The wrap speech. When the filming ended, Alan delivered what felt like a sort of benediction, harnessing all the energy and good vibes from the previous two days and sending the cast out into the world to spread love, kindness and more funky moves.
Alan is a superb filmmaker, but his superpower is his magnetic personality infused with the super chill found only by preachers, gardeners and people satisfied with their tax refund.