Bringing BrightDrop’s brand story to life in an inspiring animated film
The team at Moving Brands love nothing more than trying something new and seeing how it flies. Such an opportunity arose when we were asked by BrightDrop, a tech startup from General Motors, to tell their brand story.
BrightDrop produces an entire portfolio of all-electric delivery solutions including electric delivery vans, eCarts and software and wanted to highlight their mission to decarbonise how packages and goods get to their destination in a new brand film.
Here, we catch up with Jemma Campbell, Head of US Creative at Moving Brands, and Lee Brotherhood, our Global Narrative Director, about what turned into an exciting, fun and fairly unique project.
Q: How did this project come about?
J: As BrightDrop’s creative agency of record, we’d already started making significant updates to the overall brand expression when they asked us to help them tell this story.
So of course we fully understood every aspect of their product ecosystem — electric delivery vans, connected containers and pioneering software platform that is a seamless blend of hardware and software — but we knew this film needed to be so much more than just another product showcase.
Q: There’s something very different about this film, where did the inspiration come from?
L: BrightDrop had produced a previous film which presented a more literal view of the world of their customers and the logistical landscape. It featured a cute turtle called Ed, which they were very fond of, and we could sense their attachment to this emotional aspect of their story.
This triggered something of a lightbulb moment for us, with the simple idea that we flip that the other way around — how might we embed their product in a story that was all heart?
From there, we were off to the races, and set about figuring out how to get to the real meaning of BrightDrop’s genuine affection for the world, and how we might bring that world to life.
Q: So how did you go about making that happen?
J: Our approach was to find the core truth that BrightDrop wanted the world to hear and what would set them apart from the competition. Unlike their industry, which is in the spotlight a lot, BrightDrop’s truth isn’t just about the future. Yes, they’re future-facing… and, in many regards a pioneering, tech start-up, redefining the way our world works… but they’re doing it today. They’re out there in the world, outside our windows right now.
So we focused on how we could tell that story, and make BrightDrop a part of today’s world — connecting people, and playing a key role in how the world moves. A story that would convey BrightDrop’s sense of optimism and affection for the world.
Q: Tell us a bit more about the process to get to that stage.
L: We came up with three potential concepts, all based on the word delivery. One involved telling the story from the perspective of a package being delivered, the second was built around the anecdotal, lived human story of the delivery driver who loves his job.
The third was much more conceptual and it was about the many meanings of the word ‘delivery’ in our language, from delivering a baby to delivering a speech, and so on. And how delivery is ever present in our lives and so richly evocative of connection, well-being, security and progress. That was the one BrightDrop chose.
To bring it to life, we partnered with renowned stop-frame animation house WIZZ to create an inspiring single-shot tapestry of life, rich with affection and detail, across time and place. We titled the film Life is a Journey.
Q: Why did you opt for stop-frame animation?
L: It made it real. We’re literally filming a model — we’re telling this whole story with real things in a real space, rather than using CGI for example. Anyone watching it is going to see an actual physical space being brought to life, literally frame by frame.
J: Beyond that, the meticulous process of stop-frame echoed the meticulous attention to detail of BrightDrop themselves — the film was made with the same obsessiveness and exactitude with which they have developed their product ecosystem.
Q: Were there any major challenges?
J: We worked with the BrightDrop team to overcome their initial concerns about the format. When we presented the mood boards and sketches, there was some hesitation. After all, this was something very unique within their competitive space and challenged the status quo.
But we reminded them that their original brief to us was to do something they had never seen before, something badass, and something that aligned with their mission and brand. And I think because we had a really good brief and we had judgement criteria, everyone aligned on that.
But we reminded them that their original brief to us was to do something they had never seen before, something badass. And I think because we had a really good brief and we had judgement criteria, everyone aligned on that.
Q: Who else did you work with on this film?
L: Well, WIZZ did the actual filming and I’d like to highlight here the tremendous creative input of the director, Victor Haegelin. We invited him to challenge and he came up with a load of interesting new ideas that opened up new narrative avenues. The whole WIZZ team were brilliant to work with.
J: We also had wonderful input from Antfood, our partner creative audio studio. We worked with them to develop the sound design as an integral part of the world we created — not just a soundtrack — another nod to BrightDrop’s attention to detail and ecosystem thinking.
Q: What do you love most about Life is a Journey?
J: It’s full of narrative Easter eggs that reward repeat viewings. For example, the baby born in the opening scene is the older child receiving a gift sent by a grandparent later on, and is also the grown man delivering his first astronomy lecture at the end.
And the film is a perfect loop — the end is the beginning is the end — enabling the film to be looped endlessly, telling the BrightDrop story of continuous, seamless flow.
Q: Any other key considerations?
J: The film was made with a genuine focus on sustainability and minimising environmental impact. We didn’t close roads, we didn’t put trucks on the street, and we didn’t fly people in with heavy equipment.
It was all shot in Paris in one location, eliminating vehicle emissions that otherwise might have been generated by transporting cast, crew and kit to multiple locations. Most of the set was recycled from previous jobs that the WIZZ team had worked on.
From the start, we talked about sustainable materials and making sure that we weren’t using too many plastics and things like that. That was very front of mind for all of us when we were thinking about the making of the film.
Q: So what happened to Ed the turtle?
J: Well he’s not the star of the show, but he’s certainly not forgotten. BrightDrop were keen for him to make an appearance. If you look closely, you can see we named the bowling alley Ed’s. So when we say absolutely every aspect of the film was carefully considered, it really was.
Q: And how do you feel when you see the film out in the wild as it is now?
J: We could not be prouder — the film was a joy to produce and is like nothing else in its category. We’re delighted with how it tells the story of a revolutionary brand that is making a genuine difference by reimagining the delivery industry.
Most importantly, the team at BrightDrop love it too, they’re as happy as we are. They were part of the process from the very beginning, so they feel really proud of the work.
L: We love nothing more than finding new ways to tell compelling stories, and this certainly fits that category. I’m often asked what ‘narrative’ means — usually when I meet people for the first time and tell them my job title — and how narrative is distinct from words and copy, and this project is the perfect illustration of the answer to that question. Narrative is the actual DNA of everything: the design, the motion, the music and sound design and, yes, the words too — every tiniest element has an important piece to play in that narrative orchestra — and it all came together perfectly in this film.
It can sometimes be a hard argument to make with clients that certain narrative elements should be given just as much thought narratively as the rest. Sound design leaps to mind as something that’s too often overlooked. But on this particular project, the client totally got the importance of sound design to the story and encouraged us to go for it — and you can really tell in the finished project… and that’s true across every element of the whole piece.
From beginning to end, the project was a joyful experience creatively, and I think that joy is all up there on the screen — I couldn’t be more proud of everything the team achieved.
You can watch the final BrightDrop brand film here, or watch the behind-the-scenes video below: