(left Baptiste Clinet, right Andrea Stillacci)
After a period of relative calm in public and expansion behind the scenes, French agency Herezie is attracting attention with two stunning new public interest campaigns.
Founded six years ago with zero clients, Herezie has grown from a small “unorthodox agency” into an independent group offering what its president Andrea Stillacci describes as “the complete spectrum of communications, from traditional advertising to digital, social, e-commerce and in-store marketing”.
It helped that Herezie acquired two other entities along the way: shopper marketing and events agency Vaudoo in 2015 and digital shop 5ème Gauche (literally translated 5th on the left) last year, boosting its staff to around 135.
While the agency is run out of a single Paris office – albeit an impressive one in the classy 16th arrondissement – Andrea Stillacci points out that it works for a number of multinational clients, including Coca-Cola, Unilever and Henkel. “We can travel either physically or virtually. We also have access to a global network of planners. In today’s world you don’t need offices in every market.”
One example of its international spirit is the jaw-dropping – or perhaps one should say ear-popping – spot for the David Lynch Foundation. Comparing everyday sounds to the cacophony of war, it enables viewers to empathize with war veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What for the rest of is merely a slamming door can trigger agonizing memories for a veteran.
“We were determined not to cheat,” says executive creative director Baptiste Clinet. “Thanks to our research we came up with a list of sounds that could be potential triggers, then we matched images to them. We were surprised, for example, to learn that the closest sound to distant machinegun fire is popcorn popping.”
To achieve the desired effect, Herezie worked with legendary Canadian and U.S. sound studio Apollo, as well as its sister production company Mile Inn. The director was Yan Dal Santo, co-founder of both Apollo and Mile Inn.
The result was so effective that many commentators thought Lynch himself had directed the spot. “No, it wasn’t him,” Baptiste reiterates, smiling. “But he did see it – and like it.”
The desire for authenticity is also present in Herezie’s second stand-out spot, this time for the Observatoire d’Inégalities (a human rights organization). In the film, a group of children aged 7 to 11, from a variety of different backgrounds, are invited to play an alternative version of Monopoly. They quickly realise that the rules of this implacable new game benefit some more than others.
Once again, says Baptiste, there was no cheating. “We cast real kids and the reactions you see are absolutely genuine. We also cast a schoolteacher who would know how to relate to the children.” Monopoly owner Hasbro gave the agency permission to adapt the game. “They were behind us right away.”
After the shoot, the challenge was to edit 12 hours of film – or six hours from two different cameras – down to an emotional spot of two minutes. Baptiste says: “As you can see on screen, although the kids were often frustrated, they also understood when the situation was unfair for the others.”
Most astonishingly of all, even though the odds were stacked against them, they never gave up hope. “They still thought they could win.” There was a debriefing session afterwards to cushion them from this new and unpleasant facet of life.
Both the David Lynch and “Monopoly” spots generated a flurry of comments and shares – not to mention awards buzz in the run-up to Cannes. The “unorthodox agency” is back in the news.
By Mark Tungate, editorial director