Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards

Your Shot: How BETC Paris Built ‘Emoticon City’

Advertising Agency
Paris, France
Creatives David Aronson, Juri Zaech and Samuel Moore on bringing emojis to life with We Are From LA

Since McDonald’s France and BETC penned the brand’s ‘Come As You Are’ strap line back in 2008, it’s inspired a series of spots that have had tongues wagging. Probably most notable was a spot released in 2010 to promote gay rights and featuring a gay teenager. It was a bold step in France at the time and amassed to be one of the most talked about ads of that year. Anyway, Come As Your Are is back, and in the form of a super fun city filled with people that have emojis for heads. The spot was directed by We Are From LA, the French directing duo behind Pharrell’s Happy video (as well as a heap of other generally awesome stuff, including BETC’s France is in the Air campaign). LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with BETC creative trio David Aronson, Juri Zaech and Samuel Moore (a.k.a. The Triplets) to find out how they built ‘Emoticon City’.

LBB> Obviously emojis are pretty big at the moment, but what inspired the idea for ‘Emoticon City’ and why was it a good fit for McDonald’s?

BETC> The tagline ‘Come As You Are’ has been expressed in numerous ways through the years. It has been shown through personal style: what you wear and how you look and by showing cultural diversity. They even did a spot with a gay teenager that was groundbreaking in France at the time. For us we wanted to find a new angle on this, and we thought it would be interesting to talk about how you feel. You don’t have to pretend when you go there, since it’s a very laid back atmosphere. McDonald’s is for everyone and that’s what we’re showing in a playful way that people hopefully can relate to. 

LBB> The ad is all about emotion – and it¹s funny because it seems like today that some people feel more comfortable expressing emotion via text/emoticons. Did that play a factor when developing the idea?

BETC> It felt like the right way to show that you can come to McDonald’s however you feel without being too preachy about it. It didn’t have anything to do with the fear of expressing feelings outside the screen. For us, emoticons are a form of expression and different people use different emoticons to express themselves. 

LBB> How did you go about deciding the emoticons that would feature in the spot and where they would fit in?

BETC> We wanted to have as many different feelings as we could in the spot. After that we tried to play with the surroundings and what the characters were doing to amplify the feeling they were expressing even more. It all had to start in a city and come together at the restaurant, so that was our starting point.

LBB> Why were We Are From LA the right fit to direct the spot?

BETC> WAFLA are great guys and we felt from the beginning that they were able to take it where we wanted to go. They have a good sense for detail.

LBB> Where did you shoot? How much was in-camera and how much was post?

BETC> We shot it around Nantes in France. We tried to shoot as much as we could in camera. We created a lot of yellow heads that were shot in camera. For example the sweat drop on the jogger was actually an object connected by a magnet so she could brush it off her head. But everything came alive in post and it was a massive job to make that happen. 


LBB> At the end of the day, the whole thing is really fun. How was the process of making it?

BETC> It took us more than a year from brief to release and it’s been a fun but challenging process to put all the pieces together. It was a big yellow headed puzzle. We tried to add a lot of details that you might miss the first time you watch it, so you would feel like watching it again.

LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?

BETC> Finding and deciding scenes/visuals was a big part of it and showing different emoticons without being too repetitive.

Work from BETC Paris
Paving the Way
First Conversations