There are lots of reasons why this new Skype ad from Pereira & O'Dell shouldn't work. It's more than three minutes long. It's manipulative in the extreme. And its emotional high point has little to do with the service being advertised—in fact, it hints at everything Skype can't provide.
Yet, in the end, it's irresistible.
This is all because of the story, which is flat-out incredible and clearly real and heartfelt. The spot—the fourth in Skype's family-portrait series—tells the tale of Sarah from Nappanee, Ind., and Paige from Auckland, New Zealand. The girls share a unique bond—each was born without a full left arm. They initially corresponded thanks to their mothers. (Sarah's mom had gone looking for someone who was dealing with the same issue.) Eight years ago, Sarah and Paige began to Skype. They grew close—so close that they became best friends. But they had never met … until now.
After telling their story, the spot then shows them meeting for the first time. It's extremely touching—so much so that you almost forget that Skype's whole value proposition is based around not meeting up in person like this. You focus instead on the bond the girls did build, remotely, over time—for which Skype can take a lot of credit.
Also important to note: Sarah and Paige reached out to Skype as part of the video chat software's "Stay Together" initiative, which asked for customer stories about long-distance connections. That makes it feel more authentic and less exploitative, even though the advertising is clearly milking the story for maximum throat-lumps. (There's a full PR effort around Sarah and Paige. The spot first aired, last week, on Katie Couric's nationally syndicated daytime talk show, and Sarah and Paige were guests on the show. A 60-second version of the ad is airing, too.)
It goes to show: If you have a good enough story, you almost can't mess it up.
Client – Skype
Agency – Pereira & O'Dell
Chief Creative Officer – PJ Pereira
Executive Creative Director – Jaime Robinson
Creative Director – Jonathan Woytek
Senior Art Director – Tim Delger
Senior Copywriter – Katie Brinkworth
VP, Client Services – Gary Theut
Account Director – Ivy Truong
Account Supervisor – Ali Forgeron
Account Executive – Michael Reardon
VP, Strategy – Nick Chapman
VP, Media Strategy – Joshua Brandau
Strategy Director – Justin Cox
Associate Strategy Director – Jasmine Summerset
Media Strategist – Liz Wood
VP, Production – Jeff Ferro
Senior Integrated Producer – Victoria Whitlow
Senior Broadcast Producer – Elisa Moore
Senior Integrated Producer – Erin Davis
Print Producer – James Sablan
Prod. Co. – Station Film
Director – Peking
Managing Partner – Stephen Orent
Executive Producers – Michael Di Girolamo, Caroline Gibney
Line Producer – Sarah McMurray
DP – Marc Greenfield
Music – Future Perfect Music
Executive Producer – Maxwell Gosling