Responses by Ben Hughes, director of brand creative, Squarespace
Background: We spent much of 2019 telling the stories of customers who have used Squarespace to achieve a dream, whether that means launching a business or unleashing a creative project into the world, but we wanted to close out the year by flipping that idea on its head. Who would be the most reluctant user of our products? Who would recoil at the idea of becoming successful? That led to casting Oscar the Grouch as our modern day Scrooge.
Reasoning: The interesting tension with Oscar is that his grouchiness actually masks a huge passion. He dislikes almost everything, but he loves trash. We wanted to see what would happen if everyone else loved it, too. As his fame grows, he gets more and more unhappy, until he finds a very particular silver lining in his situation. It’s basically a customer success story, except the customer is miserable.
Challenges: The process of working with puppets was fascinating. It takes two puppeteers to operate Oscar, and it’s physically demanding. We had to cut after every few takes so the puppeteers could rest and stretch.
Favorite details: The art we created for the campaign and the two-minute short film came out better than I could have ever imagined. In addition to the monumental pieces that our production designer built for the film shoot, we also partnered with the artist Justin Gignac—who is also a Squarespace customer—to create 25 smaller sculptures made from real Sesame Street trash. They sold out within twelve hours, and all of the proceeds went to Sesame Workshop.
Visual influences: The works of trash artists like John Chamberlain, Marcel Duchamp, Tim Noble and Sue Webster were important reference points for us as we zeroed in on Oscar’s aesthetic.
Anything new: The backstories of the Sesame Street characters are so rich and interesting. In an early version of the script, we wrote an exchange where one of the characters explains what a website is to Oscar. One of the notes we got back from the Sesame Street team was that Oscar has an online degree, so he’s well aware of the internet.