How do you create a campaign that centres around male dandruff to an audience that is often too embarrassed to talk about the subject? Well, Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore had a few ideas and together with Wizz’s CRCR created The Chase, a stunning story set across the world following Ando the spy for Head & Shoulders in Japan. The film celebrates the Japanese art of anime and is such a creative triumph that the creative team say they’ve heard fans asking for the character to be given his own Netflix series. The 2.5D animation style used to create the film gives it an extra layer of humour and realism that is so typical of CRCR. However, and perhaps most importantly, it’s ignited a conversation that is often considered a taboo by men suffering dandruff.
Now that the campaign has been out there for a while, the creative team made up of Shum Qihao, Ian Guerra, account director Tammy Cheok, planner Julia Blomquiest, engagement planner Sanna Britsman and executive producer Ali Loveday-Herzinger tell LBB’s Natasha Patel all about creating the project.
LBB> Where did the idea for The Chase come from?
Julia> On our research trip to Japan, we discovered that dandruff was labelled as a “people's disease” in the country. It was often associated with the feeling of shame and being unhygienic, so it was a sensitive topic for Japanese men to talk about. Advice was not easily found, and shampoo was never thought to be a solution to dandruff. Head & Shoulders themselves were not seen as an anti-dandruff brand, and had low brand awareness in the overall hair care category. So together with the folks at Head & Shoulders, we decided to tackle dandruff with a more lighthearted, entertaining approach, breaking the category conventions and also the silence around the issue.
Shum> We came out with a ton of scripts based on humour. Some a little poetic, some a little more over the top, but we eventually landed on “The Chase”, where we felt it had all the ingredients to be a compelling piece of content for everyone: a relatable but suave character who suffers from dandruff like the audience, a clumsy nemesis, great action, and a surprising reveal at the end that brings it all together and perfectly lifts up the product.
LBB> Dandruff isn't a topic often touched upon - especially by men in Japan - so how did you craft something that would appeal to many while also not being embarrassing to view?
Tammy> We wanted to avoid going down the category convention of reminding consumers of the problem (highlighting agony, shame, judgement).
Shum> The fact is that dandruff is more common than you think, and we created an aspirational character, Ando, to show that if such a cool dude suffers from dandruff, there’s no reason to be ashamed of it. Even a suave spy can get dandruff. And through the story, we crafted every scene to dramatise the annoying consequence of dandruff, and how Ando eventually finds the perfect solution to break free. We preferred to focus on the positive outcome - that no matter how bad the situation was, there is a solution in Head & Shoulders.
LBB> Why was animation right for a project like this?
Ivan> First and foremost, because our biggest intent was to ensure we’d break the clutter in the category with a piece of content that was entertaining as hell to truly stand out. In a category laden with tropes - whipping hair, scalp close ups, overly photoshopped celebrities, etc - animation was a surefire way to differentiate our brand and launch a character everyone could relate to.
Tammy> Besides that, animation allowed us to take some creative liberties with scenarios that would otherwise be really tough to execute - there’s so much more you can do with the budget and explore locations we typically couldn’t shoot in such as the Big Ben, Giza Pyramids, etc. It gave us more creative freedom to tell Ando’s story!
LBB> How was it working with Wizz and CRCR on the project?
Ali> Amazing! The vibes were great and our vision was pretty much aligned right from the start. The process was smooth and we’re really happy with what was produced. Everyone at Wizz and the CRCR crew were incredibly collaborative and responsive. And they kept bringing their A game until the very end. We couldn’t be happier to have partnered with them.
LBB> How did you get Psyop involved?
Ali> We briefed Psyop/Blacklist on this project. Wizz are their representatives in Europe. Due to the short production timeline and the time zones (Psyop/Blacklist being in LA/NY, Agency and Clients in Singapore and CRCR based in Paris), Wizz managed the day to day production on this.
LBB> I love how Ando is such an international character, why was it important to include many different landmarks in this film?
Shum> We felt escaping to different parts of the world and still getting caught each time perfectly dramatised the annoyance of carrying dandruff wherever you go. The huge distance between some of these locations just heightens that drama while elevating the humour and wow-effect with stunning landscapes around the world. In a way, it also pays homage to the spy genre and its passion for farfetched settings and destination-hopping heroes.
LBB> What were the main inspirations for the film?
Ivan> The film obviously takes a few pages from the spy genre bible, as well as a lot of references from great anime from all over the world: Mission Impossible, 007, Archer, Spider-Verse, and even One Punch Man. And of course, the character of Ando is supposed to relate to the audience while retaining some aspirational hints of blockbusting spies. Mix in CRCR’s talent and skills and this is the result you get.
LBB> What was the most challenging aspect of this film?
Ivan> Bringing Ando to life - as in, ensuring he would look, talk and behave in a way that felt natural yet unique, a character with real personality. We went through a few rounds to define his persona, background story, looks, and what’s his role in shorter video formats, static, etc. In The Chase we only see the tip of that iceberg. But given this is a long-term approach for the brand, we wanted to ensure we had that foundation covered and that this first launch piece would sufficiently bring out the Ando we envisioned. On that note, finding the right partner was crucial, of course, and we love how CRCR’s approach to 2.5D animation has helped build the Ando universe into such a unique and stunning one.
Besides Ando and his world, the tight timeline was another challenge. We’d review first thing every morning, share our thoughts, regroup with the clients and CRCR in the afternoon. But the whole team was amazing and cleared diaries to get this done.
LBB> How has the audience reacted to it?
Sanna> The initial response has been phenomenal. Twitter users in Japan are saying they love the film, that they want it to be made into a Netflix series, and importantly that it makes them want to buy Head & Shoulders. We’ve also seen a lot of interest from the global anime community, praising the high-quality animation and its entertainment value. We’ve also seen engagement rates with the content on social media and view-through rates way beyond platform benchmarks.