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These Vests Let People Hug from Thousands of Miles Away

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COX Communications teams up with FCB Chicago and Picture North to show how technology can provide new ways of connecting

These Vests Let People Hug from Thousands of Miles Away

What does a hug mean? During the Covid-19 pandemic, the way people think about hugs has drastically changed. As lockdowns have come and gone, there has been a collective strain on relationships, forcing citizens across the globe to limit their connections with loved ones. Immigrants in the U.S. have been particularly affected by this separation. Even beyond travel restrictions, obstacles like financial burdens, work engagements, political instability, and racism all play key roles in preventing them from returning home.

While video calls certainly help, a new three-part documentary-style campaign from COX Communications shows us that physical touch is irreplaceable. COX Communications sent Wi-Fi enabled hug vests to three U.S. immigrants from three different countries so that they could share a hug with their loved ones back home. The campaign has a clear message: that technology can mend the pain caused by distance.

“10 years ago, I did not know what a hug could really mean. But today, it means everything,” Rashvinda, who emigrated from Malaysia, expresses in one of the videos.

U.S. production company Picture North teamed up with three other production service companies, Nicaragua’s Goodgate Productions, Malaysia’s Passion Pictures, and Russia’s Bazelevs, to capture each story.  It’s rare that four international production companies unite to produce a single campaign—another example of how technology can bring us closer together.

The campaign is intimate and personal, creating an emotional connection with the viewer immediately. To accomplish this, the production teams had to maintain a cohesive look while operating thousands of miles apart. To preserve the authenticity of the reactions, the hugs had to be captured live with two production units coordinating via multiple remote video streams across several time zones.

“There was a moment before the shoot where we gathered all the producers on a single zoom call to tech-check the vests. It was 5 AM in Los Angeles, 7 AM in Nicaragua, 4 PM in St. Petersburg, and 9 PM in Kuala Lumpur. We filmed for three days, but it felt like six because of how long the days became. After juggling all those details in so many different languages, it was so rewarding to see these guys wearing the vests and reconnecting in this unusual way. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to share their stories, especially as an immigrant myself,” said Martin Rodahl, director and executive producer.

Despite the tough logistics, it was well worth it.

Executive producer Neha Schultz comments: “With our experience producing across the globe, Picture North was thrilled to partner with FCB on this campaign. Martin hand-selected the right international creative partners and delivered cohesive and beautiful visuals with production units spanning 4 countries. He’s also a master of capturing authentic moments with real people and found a way for emotions and human connection to transcend technology and time zones. The result is a campaign that feels both elevated and full of heart.”

The shoot took place over the course of three days in Los Angeles and New Orleans domestically and Malaysia, Nicaragua, and Russia internationally. To find out more about Picture North, visit their website or connect with them on Instagram or LinkedIn.

The Hug Project: Eleazar // COX Communications
The Hug Project: Rashvinda // COX Communications
The Hug Project: Azamat // COX Communications
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Client: COX


Agency: FCB Chicago

Agency EP: Ximena Aguirre

Agency VP: Josejuan Toledo

Agency Copywriter: Andrew Wernette

Production company

Prod. Co.: Picture North

Director/EP: Martin Rodahl

EP: Neha Schultz

Head of production: Matt Bobbitt

Producer: John Gomez

Prod. Supervisor: Elisabeth Compton

Asst. Director: Joe Lewis

DOP: Simeon Pratt

1st AC: Gabriel Velasco

2nd AC: Calvin Blue

DIT: Philip Piediscalzo

Sound Mixer: Eric Ledet

VTR/Streaming: Dominic Rivera

Script Supervisor: Sandy Parker

Gaffer: Iain Brook

Swing: Tim Jones

Key Grip: Lucas Porterfield

Props Master: Sherri Korhonen

Location Manager: Tara Martin


Malaysia Prod. Co.: Passion Pictures

Line Producer: Jaan Kit

Passion Pictures Producer: Kwek Weng

Passion Pictures DP: Wong Chun Leong

Goodgate Productions

Nicaragua Prod. Co: Goodgate Productions

EP: Philip Bolus

Producer: Cristina Campos

DP: Alvaro Rodriguez

Bazelevs Company

Russia Prod. Co: Bazelevs Company

Producer: Valeria Baburina

Producer Asst.: Alesya Stratonova

DP: Yan Yasinsky

AD: Maria Bachinskaya

Genres: Documentary, People, Storytelling, Drama

Categories: Utilities, Internet

Picture North, Fri, 11 Feb 2022 08:02:00 GMT