Jessica & Randall Hughes
Viscul / Fork & Lens
The Viscul Team
Quote from Randall Hughes
“You have this incredibly balanced, perfect sauce that will make any meal better, then you come out and you realize real life still happens whether your sauce is delicious or not- and how can you bring that together? I love it and I think that the more simple you can go the better you can get your idea across.”
Jessica Hughes: 00:00 Thanks for joining us today. Today is one of the days where we get to peel back the curtain and give you some of the insider conversations that happen at VisCul, and today I have the full team with us, Megan, Jay, Tyler, and Carolina, as well as Randall, and we are going to be digging into a tasty topic. So let’s jump in.
Jay: 00:25 Welcome to the Fork and Lens podcast brought to you by VisCul. Ooh, smells delish.
Jessica Hughes: 00:35 Hi everyone. This is Jessica Hughes and I am back with the team today. We are going to do a creative critique today. I think we’re all excited, aren’t we?
Randall Hughes: 00:35 Yeah.
Tyler: 00:35 Yeah.
Megan: 00:35 Yeah.
Jessica Hughes: 00:51 All right. So recently, Apple released a series of 15-second slow motion selfies taken by iPhone users that often cut wide to reveal the Instagram versus reality spin off of the actual scene. If you want to check these out, we’ll have all the links down in the show notes for you. It’s worth your time. They’re really good and they also have some comedic relief in them as well. So let’s get this ball rolling. What stands out about these ads to all of you?
Carolina: 01:22 I think how home grown it is. It’s so relatable.
Jessica Hughes: 01:29 It is. For me, I find it completely humorous because it almost kind of has that Zach Galifianakis vibe to them of just that slow, comical humor that just keeps you laughing after you watch it.
Megan: 01:44 It has some human elements a lot of the time. There’s a person taking a selfie in a sprinkler very dramatically, wiggling his face in front of the camera and just being silly. I feel like we should describe some of these.
Jessica Hughes: 02:00 Yeah. There’s a guy standing in a sprinkler being sprayed by the water, and not an attractive man at that.
Megan: 02:13 You’re not attracted to him?
Jessica Hughes: 02:14 Sorry. No.
Randall Hughes: 02:18 Yeah. The freezer one, and the grocery store was hysterical.
Carolina: 02:20 Yeah, oh my gosh. It was beautiful.
Randall Hughes: 02:22 Three women striking a pose, and there’s fog coming around and it hits wide, and they’re standing in the freezer.
Jay: 02:32 It’s those comedic moments when you know you’re doing the classic Instagram, I think that’s the idea. It’s the slow motion to make this beautiful scene or whatever it is. And then you come out and you, and you realize reality is far funnier than the actual slow-mo selfie, which is… To me, that’s the funniest part of the whole thing, when you come out of it and just, Oh yeah, this is real life still. And yet you can make these incredible videos that you can put on your Gram, TikTok or wherever you want to put them.
Jessica Hughes: 03:05 The reveal is obviously the best part. But I think it touches on like, Oh, here’s this really beautiful thing. I feel silly doing it. And, Oh yeah, I look silly doing it too. And even from like a production standpoint, we’ve all been in weird situations or we’ve done silly things to make something look beautiful. Whatever rig that you got to set up to make it happen. You know, it’s fun.
Randall Hughes: 03:30 I was going to say, I’ve been on a ladder dumping snow off of my roof onto somebody before. So, you know, there’s that.
Tyler: 03:37 I got to say about the video team and the photography side of things. It’s just unreal how you guys can pick out some of these beautiful shots and just everyday stuff, which is kind of what Apple was doing. Randall, Jay and Carolina’s Instagrams are just ridiculous. Just the photos on there and just the everyday stuff. I barely take… I’m just so obsessed with design, I forget about pictures. I have four pictures of my phone. It’s just sea dolphins. But it’s cool. The beauty, you can find it in just everyday activity and how they really highlighted that? And just to show you have this camera every day with you in your pocket, I thought that was really neat.
Randall Hughes: 04:17 Yeah, you’re right. It is so genius because it hits on so many things and it’s happening within 15 seconds. It’s incredible. But to Megan’s point, it hits on some of the most basic human things that we’re trying to strive for, which is that beauty that we’re trying to make our lives look amazing. But then we’re also aware that we look ridiculous. So it’s sort of hitting on both of them and saying we’re all in on this joke.
But we accept both of them. And I think it’s sort of-
Jessica Hughes: 04:17 Right.
Randall Hughes: 04:54 It’s almost like… there’s 2.0, where we’re almost in on the joke now. We’ve all had social media so long that we know it’s all fake. So now it’s time to start to see how we can make the real part interesting now.
Jay: 05:05 Yeah.
Randall Hughes: 05:05 It’s almost becoming too hard to keep up this fakeness for too long.
Jessica Hughes: 05:10 So I guess my question is do people… Like, we’re in on the joke. We understand, but I don’t know that everyone understands how ridiculous they look trying to get some of these things. And I’ll give you a perfect example. There is this woman that lives in our neighborhood who walks her dog. And this is probably something completely related to COVID because I’ve never seen it happen before. Or maybe it’s because I’m always at the studio, but she walks her dog with headphones in and she is literally dancing and singing as she walks her dog.
And it is… I hope she’s not listening because it’s the most comical thing to watch. And one of my close girlfriends lives on the other side of development and I’m like, Hey, have you seen this? It’s like, I’m dying, laughing every single time. And she’s like, Oh no, have you seen the grand finale? Well, here, this woman goes out on her deck and like does a full stage production without any props or scenery of the grand finale of the song after she gets home from a walk.
And it is something that we look for now, every time she’s out, we’re like, Ooh, what song are we going to be singing today? But have people realized how ridiculous they actually look? Are they just like so sucked into curating that perfection that they don’t even realize how ridiculous it really is. And is this kind of making fun of that?
Randall Hughes: 06:29 Yeah, I think the beauty of it though is that some people may not realize it and they’re completely fine with it too. It’s almost like, it’s okay [crosstalk 00:06:40] just as loud. Any aspect of what you’re doing this for. If it’s just, you’re in your own world, fair enough. If you’re trying to create some beautiful image, fair enough. If you’re trying to fake something, it’s fair, you know what I mean?
Jessica Hughes: 06:29 Yeah.
Randall Hughes: 06:54 It’s sort of all inclusive.
Jessica Hughes: 06:58 Yeah, and either way it’s an inside joke.
Jay: 07:01 What’s funny about that woman, though is that if you filmed her a certain way, though, you could actually make it look like some completely different, beautiful shot.
Jessica Hughes: 07:01 You could.
Jay: 07:04 Music playing, and lighting, and all of a sudden you got some music video.
Jessica Hughes: 07:14 And she probably has like the voice of Mariah Carey. That’s been dubbed over her lip syncing. Yeah. No.
Jay: 07:19 Crazy.
Jessica Hughes: 07:19 100%.
Carolina: 07:20 There’s also an element of, some people just don’t care. I mean, they live their lives and they’re going to do what makes them happy. And however they look and whatever… However they’re perceived, they can be as insufferable of a person as you possibly can be. And they don’t care. And I think that there is an element of beauty in that too, because a lot of people live their lives being really restrictive or too afraid to kind of expose themselves to being vulnerable or whatever. And, I think that that’s great.
Randall Hughes: 07:53 Yeah. What I love about it, if you really think back, and this goes off of Megan’s point, if you think back to when phones or even computers started having the cameras in them and Apple used to have their little, I don’t know, they probably still do, the little photo booth thing and you can have funny little swirls and stuff that would distort your face. And I even think back to then, we used to see tons of photos like that when they first came out, that people would post their picture on Facebook, back in the day. That, to me, it’s just Apple giving people the opportunity and the tool to, to be free. If they want to put something like that out there, just go ahead and do it. And if you don’t, then you don’t have to.
But I love that they’re giving people the chance to say, Hey, here’s slow motion. And on the front facing camera, and you can be as crazy or as wild as you want to be. You can show off your sport. You can dance in the sprinkler, out in front of your house, whatever you want to do, just be free and be yourself. And sometimes that goes the opposite direction. Like with the woman with her kid blowing on her hair and stuff. I mean, clearly that’s set up and she’s trying to make something for her channel and to be this thing. But I love that, that Apple’s saying, we’re giving you the chance. Whatever you want to create, just create.
Carolina: 09:10 Yeah. Going off of that, it’s actually a very empowering tool. Your phone and your camera is the tool that you use to project yourself out into the world, how you choose to represent yourself.
Jay: 09:23 Yeah.
Jessica Hughes: 09:24 So do you think that’s the problem that they’re trying to solve or like the message that they’re trying to give MS is own you?
Randall Hughes: 09:30 I think Apple’s always been about creativity. I think there’s been moments where they’ve lost that a little bit over the past few years. So I think they’re kind of coming back to that and just saying, everything that we’re doing… And a lot of their campaigns recently have been about creating again bringing back that notion of it. And I think that gives the opportunity for you to be creative in whatever that looks like. So to me, that’s the problem they’re trying to solve. I mean, obviously they’re also trying to solve the problem of selling new phones because they have this new feature on it, but.
Jay: 10:00 I was going to say, if you… You can almost envision this funny, stuffy, internal corporate environment when someone just gets the piece of paper that says, we have a new front-facing camera you can do slow motion on. You just need a commercial, you know? But then, this is what they came up with. That’s what’s so amazing. I think the real [inaudible 00:10:22] somehow convey that now you can do slow motion on the front camera. And I think that’s a really good feature and I think that’s cool. But if you really break it down to, that’s probably the most basic ask, and that’s what they came up with. It’s incredible, the distance between those two.
Jessica Hughes: 10:36 Okay, so let’s break that out a little bit. So the brief was as simple as, Hey, we have this front facing camera that you can shoot slow motion on. Great. So that goes to an agency or their internal department, whatever the circumstance is. What do you think the insight was that the light bulb went off of like, Oh, this is an amazing concept.
Randall Hughes: 10:57 Well, I think the front facing camera has always been about selfies and people showcasing their lives. So, so to me, the insight all along has been, how can we help people be a little more creative with their selfies, with their profile, so to speak? Putting out what life they want to showcase on their channels and so forth. So to me, that would be a big insight.
Jay: 11:21 Yeah. These are my favorite kind of ask, because you start acting it out in real time. You’re sitting around in a meeting holding your phone up and looking at it, waving your face around, wait, that is what people [inaudible 00:11:38] here. [crosstalk 00:11:38] So these are fun when simple asks turn into like, how do these happen in real life? And then you actually realize that that real life theme can actually become the actual idea.
Those are fun. This looks like a blast. This campaign looked like it was a lot of fun to do. And you can do it forever. You can make a hundred of them, you know what I mean?
Randall Hughes: 12:00 Yeah.
Jessica Hughes: 12:00 Oh yeah.
Randall Hughes: 12:02 That’s, that’s what I love about it actually is that it’s so simple. I mean, obviously we know from our background in shooting video and stuff, it’s not as simple as it looks as far as how it was shot. But it is such a simple thing. Somebody had to put on a storyboard, two shots, there’s a dude with his face here and there’s a person, the wide shot and that’s the storyboard. And I even love that at the end, how they kind of come out and they’re really showcasing the products well, because they come out and the phone that they’re holding stays centered on the screen and everything else kind of moves around it. I mean, it’s bringing it back. So clearly there’s a product to sell here, but they’re still taking it back to the creative side, but in such a simple way that it just works.
Jessica Hughes: 12:47 Okay. So that’s something that’s working. Is there anything else that’s working in this commercial beyond just the concept itself?
Carolina: 12:53 I think beyond the slow motion, front facing camera, because they obviously updated that. The other thing I noticed is that they keep always pushing their waterproof-ness in iPhone.
Jay: 12:53 I noticed that too.
Carolina: 13:03 And water as often as they could. So they have the guys snowboarding, and snow, freezing, rougher, icy weather. There’s a guy straight up in a sprinkler, just getting doused. And then those girls are in the freezer, which is kind of misty and water particles there, which speak to the durability. So through visuals, it’s showing you all the options of how you can use this, how this can be used in your lifestyle, I think is cool.
And something I noticed on the one with the girls in the freezer… I kept watching it because it kind of blew my mind a little because you don’t think about it when you first watch it. But the very first shot looks like it’s filmed with the iPhone, the slow motion part, they’re showcasing it, that cut out to show you the reality of them just doing their thing, taking a selfie. And then when they cut back, it’s obviously not an iPhone. It’s shot with this beautiful camera that looks even better than the iPhone, because it is.
Jessica Hughes: 14:07 Ah, I didn’t even notice that.
Carolina: 14:08 And it makes it look like that’s the selfie you’re going to get, because that’s the last image you see and it looks incredible.
Jay: 14:14 Yeah.
Randall Hughes: 14:17 The waterproof thing makes me laugh. Tyler should have seen this right before he accidentally drops their phone in the lake and then put it in rice for a few days. And I was like, well, it’s waterproof. Isn’t it? Tyler’s like, I don’t know.
Jessica Hughes: 14:34 Just trying to see how long Sarah could go without a phone.
Randall Hughes: 14:38 It was not pretty. I wanted to get her a phone as soon as possible.
Megan: 14:45 I just wanted to touch on one of the other things that I think is really working very well. Is that the demographics that they show, I mean, they’re not models. They’re not these beautiful, stereotypical people. They are so relatable. I mean the guy in the yard doing the face, that’s my dad.
Jessica Hughes: 15:08 Yeah.
Megan: 15:08 And the girls in the freezer, those are my cousins. I can find somebody that I relate to in each one of these.
Randall Hughes: 15:18 Yeah. I actually really loved the one with the mom and the kid with the hairdryer, because that one actually showcases a moment even during her selfie where her lips kind of blow up from the hair. And then in the wide shot, she’s correcting the kid on how to blow the air right. But it’s showing that even in the moment of this beautiful thing, you might have this mess up where her lips are exploding.
Jessica Hughes: 15:44 Turn into a horse.
Jay: 15:45 Yeah, I agree. They did the smart thing. They didn’t do the thing where they just have the high school kids being the cliche selfie users.
Randall Hughes: 15:54 Yeah.
Jay: 15:54 I make the argument that wacky older adults might use their phones more than a teenager in a weird way, you know what I mean?
Randall Hughes: 16:03 Yeah.
Jessica Hughes: 16:05 I love it. Okay. So we talked about what’s working. What’s not working? Carolina pointed out the change in camera and the grocery store one. And I think that could be argued that it’s working or not working, but what else is not working in these?
Randall Hughes: 16:26 I think that one’s interesting because it is working, but it’s not showcasing their… It’s showcasing their product with a different visual. So it works really well for the commercial, but you kind of have to think about it a little bit.
Jay: 16:40 Yeah, it does hit on that thing that Macs… That’s sort of always a little bit of a struggle with Apple is that anytime they do a shot with an iPhone campaigns and stuff. It’s sort of hard to imagine that that was shot with an iPhone. But I think we’re all so used to that. We’re all used to being shown the perfect version. But it does beg the question. Can you really get that amazing a footage from the iPhone?
But I wouldn’t think too much of that, I think we’re sort of average-
Randall Hughes: 17:11 Well, I think we’ve all seen that in not just Apple, but a lot of them do that where they, if you ever see behind the scenes of this, you know, shot on iPhone or shot on Galaxy or whatever it is. And it’s like, yeah, technically the camera that shot it was that phone, but then they had $400,000 worth of lighting and equipment to make it so perfect.
I think one of the things that I noticed that I thought was interesting is the snowboarding ones feel a little bit off campaign for me because they don’t quite have the same humorous effects where you kind of come out of real life. You’re kind of in that moment the whole time. And I get where they’re going, why they did it. But it also feels like the snowboarding one could have been a guy in his backyard and he blew fake now and his kids were throwing it into his face so he could get that shot.
They could have done something to bring that back to real life. But I also understand that they’re trying to appeal then like, forget your GoPro, bring your iPhone with you. And it’s that vibe, but it just feels like maybe a separate campaign and they’re all falling under the same theme.
Jay: 18:12 And why the two so similar, with the snowboards?
Randall Hughes: 18:16 Yeah.
Jay: 18:16 I wonder if that was just like a targeted, some sort of campaign?
Randall Hughes: 18:19 Yeah, it almost feels like it was specifically… I mean it had to have been for a reason.
Jay: 18:19 Yeah.
Randall Hughes: 18:26 The GoPro thing makes sense that they’re trying to hit that. Or if it was targeting ads quickly during like the X games or something, you know what I mean? Something quick to put out.
It still sort of works though. It’s sort of hits on this… The guy’s pretty epic, but then snow does just hit him in the face, and it almost startles him for a second. You know, he does look sort of silly. I don’t know if they were going for that.
Jay: 18:56 Yeah.
Megan: 18:58 It hits that GoPro demographic for sure, but it does feel a little bit off.
Jessica Hughes: 19:05 Okay. So obviously there’s some unique things about this, but how are those unique things, since we’re talking about them, applicable to the food and beverage industry? If we were doing this for one of our clients, what would we take out of this and apply it to our thoughts as we concept it as something else?
Randall Hughes: 19:24 I could really see it with a certain kitchen utensil or even ingredients here. But if you’re showing a beautiful application of something up close, like finishing of a plating of something, or using a tool in a beautiful way, but then it cuts out and it’s showing this horribly disastrous kitchen. And it’s a little kid doing it the whole time, I think that’s a really simple… I think the technique they use of showing something beautiful up close and then hitting wide the disaster part of it works wonderful with food, because food is such a visual thing.
There would be such hilarious scenes of how you got to this beautiful, finished plate, but it’s actually quite a disaster. But it doesn’t matter because all you’re doing is, you need to get that last shot to put on Instagram, you know what I mean? Of your food, or… But in terms of how it could be used for branding, and that brand could just be that bottled spaghetti sauce, and just be front and center the whole time and this beautiful plating of spaghetti happens, but you go wide and it’s the dogs eating stuff off the floor. It’s really applicable to people cooking at home the real way. And if you’re a brand that wants to hit… We’re here for the mainstream, we’re not here for foodies, we’re here for just everyday people cooking the hustle of life.
Jessica Hughes: 20:48 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Randall Hughes: 20:49 I think it could work really well for a brand that’s trying to pop that way, in preparing food in the craziness of life.
Megan: 20:56 I think a broader approach to that, too, and how it could be applicable to food and beverage is just, simple ideas work. The more that we can keep things simple and relatable and real, is going to do better for someone’s brand. If you look at something that’s so unrelatable, then you’re not going to be able to connect with it. But with this,
Jay: 21:19 I think like a broader approach to that too, is just simple ideas work. And the more that we can keep things simple and relatable and real is going to do better for someone’s brand. Because if you look at something that’s so unrelatable, then you’re not going to be able to connect with it. But with this, it’s so easily able to be connected, connectable, relatable. It just, it works. And I think that that’s something to keep in mind, especially with food and beverage, we all eat, we all drink, we all need those things. So breaking it down into its simplest components can be really good.
Randall Hughes: 21:39 Yeah. I was actually going to say the exact same thing. Like the simplicity of them to me is what’s so genius about it. So many times you’re pressured to say, how many shots can we fit into 15 seconds? Okay. You know, we give two seconds per shot. We can make this work or… You know, what’s the voiceover and you get… Apple could have easily said… somebody on their team could have said, okay, this is great, but we need to tell them all the features through voiceover while we’re watching this. And it’s like, well, now that kind of would have killed it. So getting that across to clients, but also having clients that are on board with that and willing to take those risks and push it a little bit.
But yeah, the simplicity thing, even to Jay’s point, I mean, you just have, it could be two shots that are like this, you have this slow mo of somebody stirring the sauce, and then you go out to this crazy kitchen and you come back and they’re stirring in the background, the sauces there. I mean, it’s such a simple thing. And yet it can be so impactful. You have this incredibly balanced, perfect sauce that will make any meal better. And then you come out and you realize that real life still happens, whether your sauce is delicious or not. And how can you bring that together? So I love it. I think that the more simple you can go, the better you can get your idea across sometimes.
Jay: 22:50 I love that, and I’m definitely going to steal it.
Jessica Hughes: 22:51 Yeah, for me, I think one of the other things that I would take out of it is, and this goes back to one of Jay’s points earlier is, they came up with a concept where it was like, we’re all in on the joke. And there was something relatable about all of us have experienced this in one way or another. And we can relate just to the facts that to get the perfect picture or the perfect video on our phone is not the easiest task. And sometimes we look like idiots doing it.
Randall Hughes: 23:25 Yeah. I love… This actually goes back to a conversation we had before about, about darlings. And since we’ve all had ideas like this, like these super simple, perfect ideas and we’ve even pitched them before. And then when the client doesn’t go for it, you’re like, Oh, but it’s so perfect. You know, it could work, but anyway.
Jay: 23:42 When you watch this you feel like, this is the perfect campaign. It’d be fascinating to talk to whoever made this. For all we know, this is the dumbed down version, or they’re mad at it. It’d be fascinating to know what they’re thinking. It looks like it all just came together perfectly.
Randall Hughes: 23:59 Right. Yeah.
Jessica Hughes: 24:01 I hope you guys all got something out of that and we’ll keep bringing some of these little behind the scenes thought processes around other people’s campaigns to you throughout the seasons. We hope you all have a great day. Take care.
Thank you for joining our team today. As we chatted through this creative critique, if you’d like to check out the videos that we were discussing, please feel free to check out the show notes below. Otherwise, as always, every drink is better shared in good company. We know that as a team, feel free to share Fork and Lens with your team colleagues and friends. If you enjoyed today’s message, please hit subscribe and become part of our extended community every week. We’ll bring you access to new recipes for creative and marketing success. Until next time.