Tue, 15 Feb 2022 17:42:00 GMT
Continuing very much in the same vein as their previous Super Bowl ads featuring Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa, this year, creative agency Lucky Generals posed us a slightly terrifying question: “What if Alexa could read minds?” The result - shown via domestic interactions between Black Widow actress Scarlett Johansson and comedian husband Colin Jost - is a world where this AI is too intelligent for its own good, with hilarious consequences.
Working alongside the veteran comedy writer of Saturday Night Live and his team, Lucky Generals created a spot that is bound to make you laugh out loud and equally glad that the Amazon Alexa can’t actually read your deepest, darkest thoughts - or, in Colin and Scarlett’s case, expose the white lies everyone tells their partner.
To discuss the collaborative writing process for the spot (which began all the way back in August), the “intense” production amidst a Covid-plagued New York winter and what it means to create an ad for the biggest commercial stage of the year, LBB’s Ben Conway spoke with Lucky Generals creative Gareth Morgan.
Gareth> As an agency, we’ve established a successful formula with our three previous Alexa Super Bowl ads, so it was just a case of trying to build on that. In previous years, the ads asked ‘what if’ questions: What if Alexa lost her voice? What if we put her in literally everything? What if she had the world’s sexiest human body?
So we asked lots of what-if questions and landed on: ‘What if she could read your mind?’.
Gareth> Amazon came to us in August with the brief. The Amazon client team were constantly driving for the work to be as good as it could be, throwing in their own ideas for gags and pushing us to make it funnier.
Gareth> There’s definitely added pressure but we’re not complaining. We all want to be mixing it with the big guns on advertising’s biggest stage.
Gareth> Wayne has done Lucky’s previous three super bowl spots and smashed them all out the park. He knows how to ‘win the night’ (as everybody in America seems to say). So we’d have been mad to have gone with anyone else.
Gareth> Luckily, Josty (we’ve all got nicknames for each other these days) and his team of writers were keen to get involved in the writing. It was fascinating seeing the different way in which they came at stuff. With the SNL guys being slightly alien to the advertising world. We ended up getting to places that maybe we wouldn’t have otherwise.
The writing process was a unique process in that the creative team (me, Martin Tighe and Joe Mallett) were writing and rewriting jokes up to and including the shoot day, with Scarlett and Colin constantly throwing ideas in and improvising. In fact, we were still writing gags after the shoot, as we could change Alexa’s responses in post-production.
Gareth> Coming up with gags for the head writer of SNL certainly focussed the mind but he seemed to like it and never said anything negative. To our faces anyway. Writing for Scarlett is obviously the dream. As a couple, they were extremely keen that the spot came across as authentic to their relationship, so having both of their feedback and suggestions on jokes that felt more appropriate to them really helped.
Gareth> Definitely. If you were made to choose between laughing and crying you’re going laughing every time. Unless you’re crying laughing of course.
Gareth> Given that it was a three-day shoot in New York in January, at the peak of the latest Covid wave, and the weather was -10, it’s safe to say it was intense. Learnings from the production were that Scarlett is a complete and utter boss. She would take direction and nail what was asked for - first time, every time.
Gareth> Scarlett’s eye patch.