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Behind the Work

Dreamers and Doers

Dreamers and Doers

Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

December 3, 2019

A new film from BETC sets Leroy Merlin up as “the brand of homes” and, more importantly, families, says Executive Creative Director and VP of BETC Paris, Olivier Apers.

"It was a really simple idea that required a lot of thought, care and probably bravery"

BETC Paris and Leroy Merlin offer their audience a view from the treetops in “A Life to Build,” a new heartfelt story of evolving family life. The short film, directed by Nicolai Fuglisig, tells the tale of a young family who moves into a dreary home on the forest ground, only to be elevated by a sturdy tree that grows and evolves alongside its dwellers. The campaign brings to life a universal childhood dream to live in an epic treehouse while portraying the highs and lows of family life. Executive Creative Director and VP of BETC Paris Olivier Apers says the film’s intent was to place Leroy Merlin as “the brand of homes.” Here, he talks about how BETC helped the brand start a new chapter and step away from traditional, “uninspiring” DIY storytelling.

 

This campaign comes two years after “Life’s Adventure,” a Leroy Merlin and BETC film that illustrates a young couple sailing through the choppy waters of life. How did the concept and success of 2017’s campaign influence “A Life to Build?”

We tried to set the bar high with the brand message and production of our campaign “Life’s Adventure”. It was the first time that we brought Leroy Merlin into a “magical realism” universe; an area that allowed us to play with big metaphors (instead of doing demo films as all the competitors do), while at the same time staying close to what is human and true.

With this new campaign “A Life to Build”, we didn’t just want to do a follow-up of the first film. “A Life to Build” is connected to the evolution of the brand strategy but it’s not just a second episode—it’s a new opus, a new chapter. We are no longer just talking about DIY, but about the home and becoming the brand of homes.

How did the idea of the treehouse come about, and why did it trump the other ideas on the table?

At BETC, we have a lot of brilliant creatives. There were a couple of great ideas on the table, so it was hard to choose, but this one was so pure and original the choice was obvious. Living in a tree—who has never dreamed about that?

What could be more symbolic than a tree to express life and the role of homes in our lives and in our children’s future?

The campaign is quite philosophical and metaphorical; why was it important to Leroy Merlin to stray away from the themes in traditional DIY ads?

Traditional DIY brand ads are fine to relay the practical parts of renovating a house, but we felt that they often fail to inspire. They usually only talk about doing or making something; they do not resonate with our real lives. For us, a house is more than just an object—it’s a home, full of potential, a playground, a platform to become more. 

Compared to the first film, where we clearly talk about DIY, this second film took a completely different angle. It shows the power of a home and the incredible impact you can have on it and vice versa. The more you take care of your home, the more it will take care of you.

"For us, a house is more than just an object—it’s a home, full of potential, a playground, a platform to become more"

The film was directed by Nicolai Fuglisig, why was he a good fit for this project?

Since the idea and the script were incredibly ambitious, we knew that we had to find a top director in order to bring it to life. Nicolai immediately understood our vision and brought his own interpretation to it. It became a huge collaboration and although the majority of the credit is due to Nicolai, nothing would have been possible without his extremely skilled crew. With production design by Christopher Glass (The Jungle Book, Apple’s “Welcome Home”) and cinematography by Phedon Papamichel (Nebraska, The Ides of March, Ford v Ferrari to name a few, Nicolai built an amazing team and made sure that we had the best people and conditions to achieve a great film.

What were some of the challenges you faced while working on this campaign? 

A production like this has a lot of moving parts. From the design of the house, physically building it, the huge amount of CGI required and taking a story more suitable in a long format and compressing it down to 90 seconds, to bringing on young-but-such talented creatives (Sebastian Regfeldt and Moritz Maus) and entrusting them with the project. It was a really simple idea that required a lot of thought, care and probably bravery.

“A Life to Build” does not imply that family life is perfect. In fact, it shows the turbulent times and the hard work that goes into growing and fulfilling new needs. Why was this an important point to make?

In reality, family life is, at times, anything but perfect. Showing a family’s struggles in an unconventional way kept the film one foot in reality while letting the metaphor drive the story forward. Creating a home does not come without its conflicts and we should not pretend it does. For us, it all plays a part in what a “home” is really all about.

This campaign was focused on storytelling—why do you think this connects with Leroy Merlin’s intended audience?

The intended target audience are dreamers and doers. Stories about progress and achievements resonate. Of course, it’s not about building a house high up in a tree, but rather about understanding that your home is actually something that lives and breathes. The more you put into it, the more it gives back to you. No matter where your starting point may be, no matter how big or small or the means you may have, it all begins with you.

Thanks for introducing me to “Bloodflow” by Grandbrothers. How did you come across the track and how hard was it to find a song that not only fits the piece, but elevates it?

Finding the right song was tricky and the search started early on. For us, the track would serve as the emotional vehicle for the film and therefore had to directly reflect the story. Just like the house and the tree, it had to constantly evolve. We wanted it to be contemporary yet emotional and on top of that end in a crescendo.

The young and talented creative team worked closely with our music director, Christophe Caurret, to explore possible options. Ironically enough, “Bloodflow” was already in our initial list of potential tracks, and after months of exploring, it was the only one we continuously came back to and that stood the test of time.

Once we agreed on it, we worked together with Grandbrothers to make a slightly altered version that kept the integrity of the track but, in our opinion, further elevated the story.

"It was a really simple idea that required a lot of thought, care and probably bravery"

BETC Paris and Leroy Merlin offer their audience a view from the treetops in “A Life to Build,” a new heartfelt story of evolving family life. The short film, directed by Nicolai Fuglisig, tells the tale of a young family who moves into a dreary home on the forest ground, only to be elevated by a sturdy tree that grows and evolves alongside its dwellers. The campaign brings to life a universal childhood dream to live in an epic treehouse while portraying the highs and lows of family life. Executive Creative Director and VP of BETC Paris Olivier Apers says the film’s intent was to place Leroy Merlin as “the brand of homes.” Here, he talks about how BETC helped the brand start a new chapter and step away from traditional, “uninspiring” DIY storytelling.

 

This campaign comes two years after “Life’s Adventure,” a Leroy Merlin and BETC film that illustrates a young couple sailing through the choppy waters of life. How did the concept and success of 2017’s campaign influence “A Life to Build?”

We tried to set the bar high with the brand message and production of our campaign “Life’s Adventure”. It was the first time that we brought Leroy Merlin into a “magical realism” universe; an area that allowed us to play with big metaphors (instead of doing demo films as all the competitors do), while at the same time staying close to what is human and true.

With this new campaign “A Life to Build”, we didn’t just want to do a follow-up of the first film. “A Life to Build” is connected to the evolution of the brand strategy but it’s not just a second episode—it’s a new opus, a new chapter. We are no longer just talking about DIY, but about the home and becoming the brand of homes.

How did the idea of the treehouse come about, and why did it trump the other ideas on the table?

At BETC, we have a lot of brilliant creatives. There were a couple of great ideas on the table, so it was hard to choose, but this one was so pure and original the choice was obvious. Living in a tree—who has never dreamed about that?

What could be more symbolic than a tree to express life and the role of homes in our lives and in our children’s future?

The campaign is quite philosophical and metaphorical; why was it important to Leroy Merlin to stray away from the themes in traditional DIY ads?

Traditional DIY brand ads are fine to relay the practical parts of renovating a house, but we felt that they often fail to inspire. They usually only talk about doing or making something; they do not resonate with our real lives. For us, a house is more than just an object—it’s a home, full of potential, a playground, a platform to become more. 

Compared to the first film, where we clearly talk about DIY, this second film took a completely different angle. It shows the power of a home and the incredible impact you can have on it and vice versa. The more you take care of your home, the more it will take care of you.

"For us, a house is more than just an object—it’s a home, full of potential, a playground, a platform to become more"

The film was directed by Nicolai Fuglisig, why was he a good fit for this project?

Since the idea and the script were incredibly ambitious, we knew that we had to find a top director in order to bring it to life. Nicolai immediately understood our vision and brought his own interpretation to it. It became a huge collaboration and although the majority of the credit is due to Nicolai, nothing would have been possible without his extremely skilled crew. With production design by Christopher Glass (The Jungle Book, Apple’s “Welcome Home”) and cinematography by Phedon Papamichel (Nebraska, The Ides of March, Ford v Ferrari to name a few, Nicolai built an amazing team and made sure that we had the best people and conditions to achieve a great film.

What were some of the challenges you faced while working on this campaign? 

A production like this has a lot of moving parts. From the design of the house, physically building it, the huge amount of CGI required and taking a story more suitable in a long format and compressing it down to 90 seconds, to bringing on young-but-such talented creatives (Sebastian Regfeldt and Moritz Maus) and entrusting them with the project. It was a really simple idea that required a lot of thought, care and probably bravery.

“A Life to Build” does not imply that family life is perfect. In fact, it shows the turbulent times and the hard work that goes into growing and fulfilling new needs. Why was this an important point to make?

In reality, family life is, at times, anything but perfect. Showing a family’s struggles in an unconventional way kept the film one foot in reality while letting the metaphor drive the story forward. Creating a home does not come without its conflicts and we should not pretend it does. For us, it all plays a part in what a “home” is really all about.

This campaign was focused on storytelling—why do you think this connects with Leroy Merlin’s intended audience?

The intended target audience are dreamers and doers. Stories about progress and achievements resonate. Of course, it’s not about building a house high up in a tree, but rather about understanding that your home is actually something that lives and breathes. The more you put into it, the more it gives back to you. No matter where your starting point may be, no matter how big or small or the means you may have, it all begins with you.

Thanks for introducing me to “Bloodflow” by Grandbrothers. How did you come across the track and how hard was it to find a song that not only fits the piece, but elevates it?

Finding the right song was tricky and the search started early on. For us, the track would serve as the emotional vehicle for the film and therefore had to directly reflect the story. Just like the house and the tree, it had to constantly evolve. We wanted it to be contemporary yet emotional and on top of that end in a crescendo.

The young and talented creative team worked closely with our music director, Christophe Caurret, to explore possible options. Ironically enough, “Bloodflow” was already in our initial list of potential tracks, and after months of exploring, it was the only one we continuously came back to and that stood the test of time.

Once we agreed on it, we worked together with Grandbrothers to make a slightly altered version that kept the integrity of the track but, in our opinion, further elevated the story.

Patricia Murphy joined Havas Group in October 2019 as a Senior Editor and Writer. She has a background in digital journalism and content creation.

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