Tom Dunlap, Wieden + Kennedy/Amsterdam

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In October of 2005 we won Coke's global branding assignment for the classic Coke brand with the "Coke Side of Life" campaign. A major facet of that campaign was the notion of "Happiness in a Bottle," the central brief for many of the films we have produced. The "Happiness Factory" film originated as a part of the "Bottle Film" campaign, a viral-specific project utilizing short animated films. However, through the pitch, it became clear that Coke needed to launch the "Coke Side of Life" with a big idea and a big execution, and "Happiness Factory" seemed like the right idea to build upon.

At first we considered an approach that was live action centered on fictitious ingredients that go into making Coke "happiness in a bottle." However, Coke was looking for an idea that could be easily integrated whilst being visually understood by over 199 countries and nationalities. There were far too many issues and sensitivities with a live action approach, so we moved to animation and began to focus our story on the actual process of bottling happiness. Fortunately, we had already begun the "Bottle Film" campaign and had spent months working with animators from around the world, including Psyop, so we were able to quickly get some of the best companies treating on the campaign for us.

Prior to receiving Psyop's treatment, we were a bit nervous about their approach—during a follow-up up call, one of the directors, Todd Mueller had said, "We're thinking about this character that's half pig, half Chinook helicopter. We call it a Chinoink." Cut to me in the early hours before D-day with the client. I'm sitting in a hotel room in Paris with Al Moseley, W+K Amsterdam's ECD, looking over the competitive treatments. Psyop's treatment consisted of one page of writing, and three beautiful style frames in their unique illustration style, including the "Chinoink." We had our film. There was no other choice. I think the client actually applauded and started talking about how we should start planning the Happiness Factory theme park.

The biggest challenge was playing God. We had a few real world elements: a Coke vending machine, a coin and a Coke bottle. But the rest of the world had to be created from scratch, including its inhabitants. In order for each character to be successful in its occupation, certain assumptions had to be made about how that character came to be and then evolved into its job. Also, Coke had some rigid deadlines, in order to ensure the campaign was successfully integrated into Coke's global advertising plan. Because we had so many elements to figure out, and it was animation, it was really tough.

In the end, we produced a trailer as well as some shorter versions of the soon to be launched "Happiness Factory" and "Coke Side of Life" campaign. Psyop, besides being a great partner throughout the entire process, really shined the first time we saw the full render of the final celebration. When I saw the final animation against that amazingly beautiful sky, I had chills. It was at that time I knew we had accomplished something really great, and the best moment was when Coke said they wanted us to produce "Happiness Factory 2."

Fun facts:

Would you believe? I still haven't seen the film on TV or in the cinema.

Number of creature types conceived for the spot: Too many to count. We once had a whole room based on a '70s car wash. That room alone had about ten.

Number that made it into the final product: 13 characters in total, including Chinoinks, Workers, Love Puppies, Capper Guy, Penguins, Drummer Guys, Tuba Guys, Mortar Men, Majorette, Double Piccolo Guys, Popper Guys.

What kinds of production skills came most into play on this project? All of them. This one took curiosity, swiftness, political correctness, negotiation, creativity and bravery.

Sny creatures that were modeled after real people? Not that I'm aware of. We did script out a making-of video that had us animating all of our key clients at Coke. That promptly died when we started to think about what those clients would look like.

If you were one of the creatures, which one would you be? Probably a Penguin. They are so chill and always look like they're having so much fun. It would be a blast to grind up snowmen all day long.

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