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Why Serendipity Was the Magic Ingredient for WhatsApp’s Wonderful ‘View Once’ Ad


BBDO San Francisco’s Jose Higuera and Tres Colacion speak to LBB’s Addison Capper about collaborating with BBDO’s Berlin office and how a tune from SMUGGLER director Fenn O’Meally’s personal playlist went on to soundtrack the spot

Why Serendipity Was the Magic Ingredient for WhatsApp’s Wonderful ‘View Once’ Ad

WhatsApp recently launched 'View Once', an image sending option that disappears after the first view, similar to options on Snapchat and fellow Meta app Instagram. To coincide with the launch, a new campaign from BBDO San Francisco and BBDO Berlin sees over 35 people across the world get to grips with the tool. 

BBDO brought on board SMUGGLER director Fenn O'Meally to helm the spot to great effect. The spot is all 'real people doing real things' but without ever feeling contrived, forced or annoying. It's a real joy. What's more, Eric B & Rakim’s ‘Don't Sweat The Technique’ is the perfect musical accompaniment, apparently a pick from Fenn's personal playlist.

To find out more about the campaign, LBB's Addison Capper chatted with Jose Higuera, global strategy lead at BBDO San Francisco, and his colleague Tres Colacion, global creative lead.


LBB> What kind of brief did you get from WhatsApp about the View Once feature? What were your initial thoughts when you saw it?

Jose> WhatsApp wanted to reaffirm their commitment to private messaging after their terms of service update rattled people’s confidence that their messages would be kept under lock and key, so they wanted us to help them introduce View Once because guaranteeing someone could only see your messages once would be the ultimate demonstration of privacy.

This was an exciting step forward for the brand, but the challenge was engaging with Gen Z, a demographic that already used Snapchat and ‘Vanishing Mode’ on Instagram for the same reasons.


LBB> What kind of strategic insight and research drove this campaign? Were there any surprising discoveries during that process? 

Jose> We sat down with users all around the world, and what we found was that even in other ephemeral messaging options available to them, there was still a performative element to the type of content people shared with one another - typically filtered and tampered with for creative expression. But it was always intended to be polished. 

The difference for WhatsApp was that its privacy was designed to enable authentic interactions, the ones you don’t engage with just anyone. So, the role View Once played was allowing people to let their guards down and for once allow themselves to be at their most real and unpolished without having to worry that whatever they shared might stick around forever.

LBB> What was the creative process like from then? What inspired the idea to focus on real people in real situations? 

Tres Colacion> We’re always looking to tell authentic stories. WhatsApp means so much to so many people, and that constantly pushes us to find new ways to tell their stories. Fenn is a huge proponent of preserving each person’s authentic self and it all came together beautifully.


LBB> 'Real people in real situations' could be anything - tell us a bit more about the film, the people in it, their activities and the narrative. What kind of story did you want to tell? 

Tres> Everyone has a story - one that’s unique to them, but one that we can also all relate to. They literally came from all walks of life; each frame contains an entire story, but we only saw a ‘view once’ glimpse into their world. We wanted to tell a story of commonality through our individual experiences.


LBB> Why was Fenn the right director to bring this to life? 

Tres> Fenn has an uncanny ability to capture the essence of her subjects. Her background in journalism, paired with the aesthetic she’s honed across music videos and fashion, made her the perfect partner for this.


LBB> The film has a very particular style with regards to the edit and the way that it's pieced together. Is this something you worked with Fenn and the rest of the production team on? Is it a vision you had prior to production or something that Fenn brought on?

Tres> From Fenn and Stuart [Winecoff, DP] to Toby [Heard, editor] to I Love Dust and our design team, everyone worked together to craft a unique environment for our cast to live in. From the beginning we set out to find something that was true to the brand and its users, but still carried an air of the unexpected. 


LBB> What was the production process like? 

Tres> It was a lot of fun! Fenn, Smuggler and our entire crew were really on the same level. We had a great energy onset and that made for an open, collaborative space. We captured what we planned too and all those beautiful ‘accidents’ that happen when you’re open to them.


LBB> The casting process sounds really intriguing to - tell us about that.

Tres> We didn’t set out to find people with a certain ‘look’ or character, but for people with a real connection to the moments that came to life in the film. Fenn and Toby did a phenomenal job in bringing together a collection of people that command your empathy. 


LBB> Eric B & Rakim’s ‘Don't Sweat The Technique’ is an excellent addition too. Where did the idea to use that come from?

Tres> Fenn’s Spotify playlist. She’s got the jams, you got to give it a listen. 


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

Tres> To remain as raw and authentic as possible we needed to stay dynamic and open when it came to what we captured. Not everything goes as planned or imagined and we needed to be ready for serendipity when it knocked. And we were. Everyone was committed to our shared vision and that really helped us make something special.


LBB> Any parting thoughts? 

Tres> It takes a village, and this was really a phenomenal team effort. Along with Fenn/Smuggler we had the help of multiple BBDO offices (San Francisco and Berlin) and the support of our wonderful WhatsApp clients. 


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Categories: Social Media Platforms, Media and Entertainment

BBDO San Francisco, Wed, 10 Nov 2021 16:37:41 GMT