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Take to the Sky

Take to the Sky

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

June 11, 2018

Fuel company Q8 is flying high in this new spot created by Havas Milan.

"There was the need to stand out more but still stay true to the brand."

The creative team at Havas Milan transformed the routine task of filling up your gas tank into several lighthearted moments—that involved lots and lots of hot-air balloons. Executive Creative Director Giovanni Porro, Creative Director of Copy Luigi Fattore, and Creative Director of Art Antonio Campolo share how the team managed to tap into the emotional moments behind such an everyday task.

 

What’s the storyline of this film?

In a city somewhere, strange things are happening. Instead of running on the streets, some cars are floating through the sky, hanging from hot-air balloons. They have different shapes according to the destinations of their journeys: the school bus balloon is shaped like a pile of books; a newlywed couple’s car is kept mid-air by a wedding cake-shaped one, etcetera.

Finally, we are at a Q8 gas station: We see a car ready to leave after refueling, but instead of proceeding down the street, it gently takes off, lifted by a balloon with the Q8 logo.

The narrator explains: state-of-the-art service stations, contactless payment, next-gen fuels. Whatever your destination may be, a stop at Q8 makes your journey lighter.

How’d the team come up with this idea?

Like they always do. At some point someone muttered, “What if we make hot-air balloons with cars hanging instead of baskets?” And everybody turned to him. Then, after the usual, never-ending two to three seconds of silence, came the “Could work,” and the “Why not?” Then the “Nice.”

It was, however, quite a long journey. The challenge was to replace the old Q8 icon, a sailboat sailing through roads, with a new visual that will modernize and represent the brand image—without getting too distant from Q8’s long-established way of communicating.

We compare our strategy to the car at the start of our journey; then came the creativity that blew up a balloon over our heads and lifted the campaign off the ground.

"We chose to swim against the tide."

Why’d Q8 decide that after 20 years the sailing boat icon needed to change?

It was no lighthearted decision for them. The sailboat had been a well-known symbol among Italians, but—as often happens—it had started to wear out too. There was the need to stand out more but still stay true to the brand.

The hot-air balloons are a great visual. What do they represent to viewers?

First, the hot-air balloon stands for a different way to travel: a pleasant, surprising journey. But, above all, it works as the simplest way to convey the lightheartedness that a stop at Q8 can give to your journey. The refueling stop is often seen as a burden, a hassle. We would like to change that common perception and send the message that in this crazy, fast-moving world, a stop at Q8 will lighten up your journey.

How long did it take to film this spot with all of these large balloons?

We had four days of shooting, three of which were in Buenos Aires and one in Italy for the gas station sequence, since in Argentina there are no Q8 stations. None of the balloons were filmed on set, it all came alive thanks to post-production. Two months of work-in-progress and comments traveling back and forth between Madrid (home to the post-production studio El Ranchito), Argentina (home of director Fernando Livschitz ), and Milan (the city of our Havas Village and the film studio BlowUpFilm).

A commercial with hot-air balloons that went around the world in about 80 days: French writer Jules Verne would be proud of us.

And fun bloopers?

Well, nothing too specific. The funniest part was telling the bystanders on set what kind of film we were shooting, as they only saw tow trucks lifting cars. We made up all sorts of stories: alien abductions, spots for weight-loss products, new episodes of British drama Black Mirror.

How does this spot enable Q8 to stand out from other oil companies?

It looks distinctly different. It’s a lighthearted, iconic film. It’s the celebration of a moment, i.e., the stop to refuel, while the competitors more often promote their single products. And they often use a hi-tech (tech), while we went looking for the beauty of the journey. We chose to swim against the tide.

"There was the need to stand out more but still stay true to the brand."

The creative team at Havas Milan transformed the routine task of filling up your gas tank into several lighthearted moments—that involved lots and lots of hot-air balloons. Executive Creative Director Giovanni Porro, Creative Director of Copy Luigi Fattore, and Creative Director of Art Antonio Campolo share how the team managed to tap into the emotional moments behind such an everyday task.

 

What’s the storyline of this film?

In a city somewhere, strange things are happening. Instead of running on the streets, some cars are floating through the sky, hanging from hot-air balloons. They have different shapes according to the destinations of their journeys: the school bus balloon is shaped like a pile of books; a newlywed couple’s car is kept mid-air by a wedding cake-shaped one, etcetera.

Finally, we are at a Q8 gas station: We see a car ready to leave after refueling, but instead of proceeding down the street, it gently takes off, lifted by a balloon with the Q8 logo.

The narrator explains: state-of-the-art service stations, contactless payment, next-gen fuels. Whatever your destination may be, a stop at Q8 makes your journey lighter.

How’d the team come up with this idea?

Like they always do. At some point someone muttered, “What if we make hot-air balloons with cars hanging instead of baskets?” And everybody turned to him. Then, after the usual, never-ending two to three seconds of silence, came the “Could work,” and the “Why not?” Then the “Nice.”

It was, however, quite a long journey. The challenge was to replace the old Q8 icon, a sailboat sailing through roads, with a new visual that will modernize and represent the brand image—without getting too distant from Q8’s long-established way of communicating.

We compare our strategy to the car at the start of our journey; then came the creativity that blew up a balloon over our heads and lifted the campaign off the ground.

"We chose to swim against the tide."

Why’d Q8 decide that after 20 years the sailing boat icon needed to change?

It was no lighthearted decision for them. The sailboat had been a well-known symbol among Italians, but—as often happens—it had started to wear out too. There was the need to stand out more but still stay true to the brand.

The hot-air balloons are a great visual. What do they represent to viewers?

First, the hot-air balloon stands for a different way to travel: a pleasant, surprising journey. But, above all, it works as the simplest way to convey the lightheartedness that a stop at Q8 can give to your journey. The refueling stop is often seen as a burden, a hassle. We would like to change that common perception and send the message that in this crazy, fast-moving world, a stop at Q8 will lighten up your journey.

How long did it take to film this spot with all of these large balloons?

We had four days of shooting, three of which were in Buenos Aires and one in Italy for the gas station sequence, since in Argentina there are no Q8 stations. None of the balloons were filmed on set, it all came alive thanks to post-production. Two months of work-in-progress and comments traveling back and forth between Madrid (home to the post-production studio El Ranchito), Argentina (home of director Fernando Livschitz ), and Milan (the city of our Havas Village and the film studio BlowUpFilm).

A commercial with hot-air balloons that went around the world in about 80 days: French writer Jules Verne would be proud of us.

And fun bloopers?

Well, nothing too specific. The funniest part was telling the bystanders on set what kind of film we were shooting, as they only saw tow trucks lifting cars. We made up all sorts of stories: alien abductions, spots for weight-loss products, new episodes of British drama Black Mirror.

How does this spot enable Q8 to stand out from other oil companies?

It looks distinctly different. It’s a lighthearted, iconic film. It’s the celebration of a moment, i.e., the stop to refuel, while the competitors more often promote their single products. And they often use a hi-tech (tech), while we went looking for the beauty of the journey. We chose to swim against the tide.

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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