IDEA: Bugs are nasty, and Orkin is deeply invested in destroying them. But that doesn't mean they can't teach us deep life lessons. That's the somewhat schizophrenic yet oddly endearing takeaway from "Bug Wisdom," a comical new online campaign for the pest control company from The Richards Group.
Eight videos show bugs doing bug-like things—munching on leaves, crawling on twigs, sucking your blood—with amusingly exaggerated sounds. At the end of each, a pleasing aphorism appears on screen, ascribing meaning to what we've seen. (Example: A dung beetle whistles happily as it rolls a ball of dung around. Bug Wisdom: "When life hands you dung, just roll with it.")
The point? Orkin studies pests so obsessively, it even appreciates their unassuming artistry.
"They asked us to create something unexpected and fun—something that would engage viewers, be shareable and reinforce the line, 'Pest control down to a science,'" said art director Brian Thibodeau. "We realized there's an order and a system to everything bugs do. Bugs have an innate and amazing intelligence. Which led us to the idea: Bugs have wisdom."
COPYWRITING: There were no formal scripts. "It was very much trial and error. As each video came together, it revealed a small nugget of truth, which led to each Bug Wisdom," said Thibodeau.
One of the first videos Richards did shows a spider spinning a web, to the sound of a flamenco guitar. "What he was doing was beautiful," Thibodeau said of the spider. "It was art. Work, yes. But still art. What if we applied that wisdom to our everyday lives? That led to 'Make your work art.' The other ones happened in a similar fashion."
The featured bugs include a silkworm ("The way he moved his head back and forth reminded us of a typewriter"), ants and bees ("The movement of the bees on the hive made us think of xylophone notes"), a caterpillar, green worm and mosquito.
The spots end with the on-screen tagline, "We never stop learning from bugs," which Thibodeau said "shows Orkin's respect for insects and the role bugs play in this world."
ART DIRECTION: The agency used stock footage instead of hiring a director to shoot new film. The spots open and close with hand-drawn animations of ornate patterns, with the lines slowly creeping across the screen.
"I wanted them to feel natural and evoke a sense of timeless wisdom," said Thibodeau. "I created the illustrations to loosely represent buglike antennae, legs and crawly things. I wanted the drawings to accentuate the natural beauty of bugs."
SOUND: Sound is key—it's where much of the humor comes from. "We Foleyed most of the sound," said Thibodeau.
Russell Smith, an audio engineer, was the whistler on "Dung Beetle." A professional flamenco guitarist, Miguel Antonio, did the soundtrack for "Spider." "For 'Green Worm,' we ate 15 of the crunchiest foods we could find. The winner: a celery-apple combo," said Thibodeau. "For 'Mosquito,' we slurped yogurt through a straw."
MEDIA: The ads are running as pre-roll on YouTube as well as on Facebook.
Two more video series are coming soon. "Top 6" will feature lists of the top bugs in fun, unusual categories like "Top 6 Tastiest Bugs" or "Top 6 Most Venomous Bugs." Why six? "Insects have six legs. That's as high as they can count," said Thibodeau.
The other forthcoming series is "Fact or Fake," in which the Orkin Man, an Orkin entomologist and an unpaid intern will conduct experiments in a lab (filmed by Tim K. from Gifted Youth) to determine whether certain myths about bugs are fact or fake.
Agency: The Richards Group, Dallas
Copywriter: Jack Westerholt
Art Director/Illustrator: Brian Thibodeau
Creative Directors: David Morring, Tim Tone
Producer: Lynn Louria
Editorial: Charlie Uniform Tango
Audio Engineer: Russell Smith
Assistant Audio Engineer: Nick Patronella
Motion Graphics Designer: Tony Wann
Clients: Kevin Smith, Cam Glover, Theresa Childs
Brand Management: Pete Lempert, Jessica Walker, Whitney Medlin