Responses by Tim Gordon, chief creative officer and partner, Zulu Alpha Kilo.
Background: The brief from online travel company Booking.com was twofold: drive brand awareness in the United States (hence the Super Bowl as the campaign launch moment) and demonstrate the wide variety of accommodation types available with an increased focus on families.
Design thinking: We wanted to have a lot of fun with it. We don’t see enough bigness and silliness in advertising these days. Also, we wanted to craft it within an inch of its life. Our solution with the Booking.com team was to create a film of musical proportions that let us showcase a huge amount of accommodations. We hit home the message that the best way to book a stay in the United States is with Booking.com.
Challenges: The same thing we love the most: the song. It is really hard to write a song, let alone in the amount of time we had to make the spot and make it something that people would want to listen to. We got to work with incredible partners to craft something that not only worked with for the brand, but also the comedic talent of actor Melissa McCarthy.
Favorite details: The overall craft of the spot. Everything from the wigs, the costumes, the set dressing, the locations, the lyrics to the instrumentations—every last detail was sweated over. Two highlights were that we recorded the song with a live 40-piece orchestra, and Melissa had no notes on the full two-minute version: she loved it from the very first cut.
New lessons: It obviously goes without saying, but it really is amazing to watch composers and musicians work. We learned about how music and songs are composed and how important it is to focus on a song’s every detail. This project provided a window into a different creative world, and it was immensely enjoyable to sneak a peek. I also learned how satisfying key changes are and what a timpani is.
Visual influences: We specifically wanted to work with filmmaker and photographer Alex Prager, who would help us make something visually stunning from the first frame to the last. We also wanted the spot to be vibrant without being cheesy, and Alex did that so effortlessly. While we didn’t specifically reference any other photographers, we did collectively talk about the golden ages of travel and how we wanted to seduce people into taking a trip even if they just saw the visuals. It was also really important that each scene have an exaggerated dreamlike quality, as each one represents Melissa fantasizing about all the places she’d like to go.