IDEA: Pinterest's new Guided Search function offers more structure to your Pinterest searches but retains an element of serendipity. It's programmed loosely enough that exploring certain topics can lead you in unexpected directions, like a tour guide who knows what you might want to see often before you do.
To promote it, the site turned to Molecule, a new creative production company in San Francisco, for a series of online videos (including a two-minute launch spot) whose storytelling style is likewise less than rigid. They're like mini documentaries in which people rely more on curiosity and chance, rather than a well-defined plan, to find what they're looking for.
Guided Search is "all about exploration and discovery, allowing the user to start with an initial curiosity or inspiration and end up finding something they might not have expected," said Molecule co-founder Malcolm Pullinger. "We wanted to capture this feeling through stories and characters that show how this process of inspiration and discovery could play out."
COPYWRITING: The launch spot weaves together six stories. A dad and his daughters look for the perfect pancakes to make. A woman on a bus sees someone holding a book about the California redwoods and begins researching hiking spots. A guy needs help fixing an old Vespa. A woman at a laundromat spies a jogger outside and begins hunting for running clothes. A man tries to decide on the perfect style of beard.
The vignettes overlap; there's very little dialogue. "The variety of stories was intended to show the broad appeal of Pinterest—that it's not just about wedding mood boards and recipes—and also to demonstrate how Guided Search is a tool for exploring and discovering," said Pullinger.
"It was important for us that the video be intimate and have a documentary-like feel," added Molecule co-founder Mohammad Gorjestani. "We decided that a visually driven storytelling approach would be strongest, with dialogue working more like texture."
The spot ends with on-screen text, "Introducing Guided Search. It's full of possibilities," followed by the Pinterest logo.
ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Pullinger and Gorjestani filmed the spot in three days throughout the Bay Area on a Red Epic camera with Zeiss Super Speed lenses. Visually, it's meant to have "an authentic and true-to-life feel," said Pullinger. "This guided our choice of locations, wardrobe, props, etc.—we wanted every detail to look natural. We also used real mobile devices, scratches and all, and used the actors themselves rather than hand models for the product shots, to keep the natural feel."
The cinematographer, Mike Gioulakis, brought "fantastic vérité and handheld instincts," Gorjestani added. "We wanted to have splashes of imperfection, similar to capturing things in real time."
The app was blended in as seamlessly as possible. "We made sure the product moments were justified by the story—that it would be believable for the character to pull out his or her phone and open the Pinterest app in that moment—and that we didn't show more of the app than was necessary to demonstrate the feature and tell the story," said Pullinger.
TALENT: Most of the talent were non-actors—friends, or friends of friends—including a real dad and his girls and an actual Pinterest employee who has a passion for repairing Vespas.
"They are often like a blank canvas and have a lot of enthusiasm," Pullinger said of non-actors. Gorjestani called this kind of scripted documentary style "guided improvisation."
SOUND: A quiet acoustic score, by Keith and Colin Kenniff, builds to a subtle crescendo. "We love how it conveys the feeling of discovery and possibility that are at the heart of the video," said Pullinger.
MEDIA: The characters from the launch spot will appear in their own 30- to 45-second spots over the next couple of weeks.
Production Company: Molecule, San Francisco
Writers/Directors: Mo Gorjestani and Malcolm Pullinger
Producer: Thorsten Hoppenworth
Cinematography: Mike Gioulakis
Art Director and Wardrobe: Kacee Pyles
Editors: Ashley Rodholm and Matt Notaro
Colorist: Ayumi Ashley
Original Music: Keith Kenniff
Sound Design: Joel Raabe