Superhero movies are perhaps the pinnacle of modern entertainment, so how do you take the mood, tone, and intentions of the genre and apply it to a super glue commercial? Well, for Thailand’s Yell Advertising, it was clear what they had to do: Create a new hero, ‘Gecko Man.’
In this recent spot for Weber Glue, Yell introduce the product to the Thai market while being fully aware of the market competition - but instead of shying from the fact Elephant Glue has been a mainstay in Thailand for more than 36 years, the team lean right into it in this award winning spot.
The film recent won bronze at the Epica Awards for its Online & Viral films category, adding to Yell’s previous success in the digital space - the agency previously led a campaign for ONETOUCH that gained millions of organic views, as well as it’s tactical search engine campaign with CP Freshmart earlier this year.
Here, LBB sits down with heads of creative Peeradon Kongphakdee and Witsanuporn WattanaChang and Jinna Chirapathama, business coordinator to discover how Yell was able to create ‘The Big Idea That Stuck’ film in just one week, what Easter eggs audiences can discover within the film, and how the agency navigates virality, one of the industry’s most sought after accolades.
LBB>What brief were you given for this project? And how did you approach it?
Peeradon>The brief was to solve a classic problem: How to make Weber Super Glue - a new product from SAINT-GOBAIN - reach customers in Thailand and stand out from the competition; Elephant Glue, for example, has been in the Thai market for more than 36 years.
The most significant element was that there needed to be a ‘gecko' in the advertisement. We spent a lot of time brainstorming how we could differentiate our film from others by thinking about what people would be expecting.
So we chose a movie format that was easily accessible to audiences and crucially, entertaining: A superhero film!
We adapted the idea into the Thai context to help create a familiar memory for audiences by evoking images of scenes from famous films.
LBB>You’ve worked with Weber before, how was this project different from others?
Witsanuporn>In this case, we intentionally created a memory for this new product and it was a very challenging task. We were waiting patiently for the results. But we did it!
While the gecko did not have won over the elephant in this round, we were able to put the sense of humanity into the work and create a new perception of a gecko: the new hero in the house.
So it turns out audiences love it and enjoy the new Gecko Man Hero.
LBB>How did you land on the idea? The visuals are really distinctive
Witsanuporn>First, we really wanted to create a real hero film. To do this our team carried out plenty of research into the moods and tones of the genre.
We then chose the hero identity to play with the Thai context. Once it all came together, it really made us smile - it still does each time we watch it back. Both the design of the finger with the glue showing the product, and the CGI showing why the product is special, create a perfect combination to present our vision.
LBB>There are definite horror/suspense and comedy elements to the film - how did you achieve this?
Peeradon>First of all, we all know that horror and comedy movies have successfully won hearts in the Thai market. Since at Yell we are big fans of superhero movies, we combined our vision for the project with our love of the genre.
Creating a simple film ad isn’t too difficult. But, to resonate with people is hard. We really do appreciate the teamwork that went into this film.
LBB>At Yell, you’re known for your great online and digital work - what does it signify to win bronze at the Epica Awards for Online & Viral films?
Jinna>Well, winning this Epica Award has reminded us that we can make it, no matter what, as long as we are determined. It’s only just the beginning of our journey.
LBB>In your opinion, what makes a film ‘viral’?
Witsanuporn>What people want is constantly changing. To make something viral, you have to study the current insight and the zeitgeist - what would people spend their time watching? And then you have to add the touch of personal experience into it.
LBB>What was the inspiration behind the film? I know you’ve spoken previously about superhero films.
Peeradon>We love to make audiences laugh. It’s a one of a kind compliment. On top of the team’s love for superhero films, we also shared the same goal. From pulling in childhood interests into the storyboard, to eventually introducing the new hero Gecko Man - it has successfully won hearts.
LBB>How did you mesh together the ideas of super glue and superheroes?
Peeradon>It all started with the idea that the stickiness of glue could actually be a super power - one that could be used to fix broken things. But how do you make the product and the hero relate together? That’s when we decided to mock the hero’s finger with the product, just like how other superheroes have their powers at their fingertips.
LBB>How long did the entire project take, start to finish?
Witsanuporn>This project started and ended in just a week. It was a real challenge as everything happened so suddenly - we really thought it’d take longer! However, once we were sure about our direction and execution, we worked on it immediately and it turned out to be one of the most exciting projects we’ve ever worked on.
LBB>What was the highlight for you?
Witsanuporn>The opening scene! To us, this scene lays out a red carpet for our audience to walk on, leading them inside. We wanted to stimulate people with the horror mood and tone in the introduction before giving them a sense of the real story. As mentioned, a real competitor to Weber is Elephant Glue, which dominates the Thai market.
Instead of shying away from that, we leaned into the competition and had the hero fix an elephant doll with the glue - it’s a real Easter egg.
LBB>What were the most challenging moments of the production process? And the most rewarding?
Peeradon>The most challenging moment was to create the gecko and raise its identity as a brand representative. We worked very hard to make it remarkable, and not too scary, when people see it. We were also aware that with the short turn around, we couldn’t make it hyperreal - but got as close as.
Another challenge was including Thai cultural context within the story: how the mother showed off her child to neighbours, the elephant rescue, and the closing scene with Nick Future with the famous Thai red pop in the plastic bag on his head. These influences tie into Thai culture and childhood - it was important to convey them with a sense of humour for this film.
Lastly, a huge thanks to our actors as they killed it! The hero, the mother, and everyone else did so well in their roles - they really understood the messaging.
LBB>I’d love to hear more about the gecko - How did you approach including this kind of visual?
Witsanuporn>It took over 10 times re-make, plus the editing from CGI, to finally get this adorable yet scary character that felt like a real one. The final result was impressive; It’s one of the main shots in this film.
LBB>Alongside award recognition, what has the response been like from audiences?
Peeradon>The feedback was incredible. We’ve received so many responses and the work has also been reposted several times in many popular social media channels including the Culture Pub Page, one of our favourites; Isn’t it amazing how our idol has reposted our work after all those times we’ve admired theirs. Plus of course, the Epica award.
We look forward to a sequel!