Saatchi & Saatchi creatives, Ben Robinson and Mike Whiteside, and Prettybird EP Juliette Larthe, on some righteously rank comedy
Airbnb has revolutionised the hospitality industry. But let’s be honest, not everyone wants to run the risk of staying with a bona fide oddball, enduring toenail clippings and pubey bars of soap. (Watch the ad, you’ll get what we’re talking about.) And it’s with that in mind that Saatchi & Saatchi London has approached their latest campaign for HomeAway, a company that offers luxury holiday rentals around the world.
Saatchi brought on board comedic icons Tim & Eric as directors, who are repped by Prettybird. Parks and Recreations’ Nick Offerman provides a voiceover, and the result is a grotesquely humorous piece of film. LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with Saatchi & Saatchi London art director Ben Robinson and copywriter Mike Whiteside, and Prettybird EP Juliette Larthe to find out how they pulled it off.
LBB> What kind of brief were you initially presented with and what were your first thoughts when you saw it?
S&S> The brief was to build on HomeAway’s positioning of ‘whole’ holidays, and help people understand that holiday can be more enjoyable when you rent a whole house. We landed on the thought that a shared holiday is the natural enemy of a whole holiday, and things just sort of clicked into place from there. Sharing’s good to a point, but don’t we go away to spend time with people we actually like?
LBB> How did you approach the campaign, strategically? Where did you look for insights and what were the key findings that informed the brief for the creatives?
S&S> We needed to get noticed by people who don’t know HomeAway and help them understand the benefit of using them for holiday rentals. And the thing that makes them different to their competition is that you don’t have to share your space. It just felt relevant because sharing is absolutely everywhere. We all felt pretty good about the area, the planners could probably have written a book about it. As it happened, we only managed a 60” ad.
LBB> Did any personal horror stories inform the creative?
S&S> No, although there are some really funny vacation rental horror stories about HomeAway’s totally inferior, in our opinion (but famous), competitor. They’re worth a little Google.
LBB> Why were Tim & Eric perfect to helm the spot?
S&S> We’re huge Tim & Eric fans and we knew they’d bring the funny to it. That’s kind of what we needed. We’re not very funny, you see.
LBB> Juliette, why did this spot stick out as something Tim & Eric wanted to get involved in?
JL> It was such a perfect script for Tim and Eric to launch in the UK with their first campaign here. Saatchi & Saatchi were great. In the past when creatives and agencies really want to work with Tim & Eric – if the initial script has got through and Tim & Eric want to engage – they often haven’t thought it through when it comes to getting the clients to buy in. In this instance there was a gameplay and strategy and the client was over the moon to hear they were pitching. That was obviously helped by the fact that Tim & Eric last spot garnered 3.4 billion media imprints.
LBB> How did you and the guys approach the treatment?
JL> We did a call with Mike Whiteside and Ben Robinson (Saatchi creatives) and it was a total love fest. Eric had just been through a horrific Airbnb experience so could identify immensely.
LBB> There are some brilliantly gross scenes in the spot (those pubes, guys). Were there any particularly rough ideas you had that were scuppered during development?
S&S> There was a scene in our first draft with a guy sharing a terrible bum rash. But we were wincing as we presented it internally (agency internal, not bum internal). We didn’t share that with the guys at HomeAway because it grossed us out too much, but there’s always next year.
JL> A couple of shots didn’t make it in, such as the one of a guy standing over the bed saying he used to pee in that very bed when he was little. That was particularly hilarious to shoot.
LBB> Why did you choose Nick Offerman for the voiceover? And why not a British voice?
S&S> For us, getting the right tone was more important than the accent. Nick has the authority of a man who doesn’t pander to anyone, and he brings the perfect amount of cynicism and disdain to the proceedings. You can almost hear his tremendous moustache bristling at some of the ‘shared’ scenes. We could listen to him insult our way of life all day.
LBB> Did Tim & Eric get to work with Nick Offerman at all during the production?
JL> Tim & Eric directed Nick in a sound studio in LA to get the tone right for the spot. The Saatchi crew hotlined in from Wave London for the session.
LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?
S&S> Honestly, this has been almost embarrassingly straightforward. HomeAway always had the ambition to do something spiky and fun, so we were on the same page from day one. Since then it’s just been a case of seeing how far we’re all comfortable with pushing it and getting the right people to bring it to life. It doesn’t get any right-er than Tim and Eric and Nick Offerman.
JL> Tim & Eric were actually on a comedy tour in Australia and New Zealand at the same time of shooting, so we thought it may not actually be able to happen. But where there’s a will there’s a way. We all worked together and Tim & Eric, with their team, gave us the time to get the film shot in an already pretty slammed sell out show schedule. Yet on the shoot you’d never have known they had anything else to do. We had them 100 per cent throughout.
LBB> What was the most memorable moment from the shoot?
S&S> Mike’s favourite bit was when he was the only one who went on the shoot. Ben’s favourite bit was when Mike shut up about it.
JL> For me it was our producer Nell’s birthday. Tim & Eric performed on stage, it was such a brilliantly mad thing. Also, at the wrap we crowned Tim and Eric with their Lordship titles, which we had promised them years ago upon completion of their first UK campaign. So Eric is now Lord Eric Wareheim of Greetland and Lord Tim Heidecker of Whinneymoor. Just brilliant.