Responses by Alexis Benbehe/Pierre Mathonat, creative directors, DDB Paris
Background: Hennessy asked us to create the follow up to the first Odyssey campaign, which launched three years ago. The work of Nicolas Winding Refn created the vocabulary of how we wanted to communicate the cognac. In the second campaign, we went bigger, and made the Hennessy X.O sensorial brand territory even more tangible and epic. We did not need a good storyteller; we needed the best storyteller and master of worlds. Who else but Ridley Scott?
Reasoning: Our thinking was: “let's build something that has never been seen before. Seven times.” It sounds simple and naïve, but as soon you put yourself in this challenge, everything becomes important. The scripts had to be fresh, powerful and poetic with an ambition that advertising rarely deals with. We were lucky to have a strong relationship with our client, who trusted us and had faith in our capacity to produce such a gigantic idea. And we needed a dedicated partner to make it real. We found this partner in Ridley, RSA and MPC.
Challenges: Would our images and our stories be able to describe the sensorial idea behind each flavor note of the cognac, and make people frustrated to not be able to see more of these worlds? And finally, would it encourage them to pursue the Odyssey with the product itself?
Visual influences: Since our first collaboration with Hennessy, we have been fuelled by the craziness of fantastic ’70s cinema. Movies that weren’t just all rational and functional, because what comes from our dreams and subconscious are also important too. The work of Alejandro Jodorowsky, Moebius, Michelangelo Antonioni and Ridley Scott himself. In that era, artists built all those strange places in our minds, and we never left them.
Time constraints: We had time to try, test, fail and do it again, which is in the end the true recipe of creating something new. Nothing in creation is a science. You need a vision, and then you need time to push it and torture it as far as you can until it becomes real.
Anything new: Imagination demands hard work. It’s not something that magically happens. It’s a puzzle where you have to build each piece carefully, so it will fit and enhance the whole picture. What would be the texture, the light, the scale, the timing and the sensation you want to create? Nothing is hazardous and only your dedication to the project can make it better each day. When you can show and do everything you want, the project becomes what you decide to make of it.