Holiday Campaign Interview: The Path

"The biggest challenge though was to really touch people inside without getting cheesy'

Matthias Harbeck
Creative Managing Partner Germany Serviceplan Hamburg

In a few words, tell us about your role in the creation of "The Path"

 

As the responsible creative for Serviceplan Germany I accompanied the process from selecting the idea until the final production.
What was the original brief for this campaign?
Penny wanted to push the idea of reconciliation at Xmas, because of two reasons: Unfortunately, we live in a world of harsh conflicts and gaps between religions and cultures. And although we are used to celebrating Xmas cheerfully, in many families conflicts arise, especially at Xmas. So the idea of reconciliation is really relevant at this time of year.
What inspired you to approach the campaign this way?
We started with a question: What is the biggest obstacle to overcoming a disagreement with someone? It is not something outside yourself. It’s the inner obstacles you have to master and get out of your way. This long way, this fight against inner obstacles we wanted to turn into a metaphorical journey.
How difficult was it to sell the idea to Penny?
It was not really difficult. The human truth of the insight did the job almost by itself. Everybody could identify with it. Also the big pictures we chose together with the director Chiara Grabmayr were a consequence of that insight.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during the process?
We needed dramatic weather pictures – luckily we got them. The biggest challenge though was to really touch people inside without getting cheesy. Sometimes it takes more bravery to do that than to use humour and irony. Especially when the mother meets her daughter again, we paid a lot of attention to find the right tone. Chiara and the actresses did a great job here.
What did you learn from the experience?
Listen to your first impulse. The idea for “The Path” came up quite quickly. It was one idea of many and we all liked it immediately very much. Nonetheless we kept on searching for further ideas. In the end we had a bunch of spectacular concepts. But none of them was so true and pure like “The Path”. So we decided to stick to it.
What’s a “behind the scenes” story that only you know about?
From the start we wondered what could be the best way to get from the metaphorical journey “back to reality”. How could the transition be shown in a clear, but still magic way? We had a lot of ideas during the script development, and we tried a lot of things in the edit. Finally we found that beautiful transition from the majestic scene above the clouds to the step of the mother right into the fog in front of her. The picture clears, and suddenly she stands in front of her daughter’s house. In the final film it looks easy and planned from the beginning, but it wasn’t really.
What do you think the advertising industry's New Year’s resolution should be?
Go true or go home. And tell something new.
What is your favorite holiday campaign of all time?
Maybe not a very fancy choice, but it’s simply the mother of all great holiday campaigns in the last years, and it still touches me when I watch it: John Lewis’ “Monty The Penguin”.


Matthias Harbeck
Creative Managing Partner Germany Serviceplan Hamburg