The latest film from Adobe Creative Cloud opens to a young influencer—Lucille, played by Florence Pugh—in a grand mansion, grudgingly being coaxed out of the bed she’s sharing with one of her handsome kitchen hands by her nagging assistant, Alicia Silverstone of Clueless fame, who reminds her that the only way she can afford this grandiose lifestyle is by “posting.”
Lucille is not happy as she prepares to do a photo shoot for a hair product that makes her head itch, and she begins seriously questioning her vain existence. If only all influencers could see the light.
But Lucille is not your average Gen Zer. She was actually born way before the turn of the 21st century when “posting” was not as easy as taking a quick selfie on your iPhone and uploading it to Instagram in seconds.
“In the Time It Takes to Get There” is a short film written and directed by Zach Braff under RSA Films and in partnership with creative agency Pereira O’Dell for Adobe Creative Cloud. It offers a sardonic take on what it takes to be a social media star in the 19th century. The ad features a star-studded cast alongside Pugh and Silverstone, including Leslie David Baker, who was known for playing Stanley Hudson in The Office, and even a cameo appearance by Andy King, the Fyre Festival event producer who achieved viral fame after revealing in the Netflix documentary that he considered performing oral sex on a Bahamian Customs agent so he would release water for attendees.
While it may not seem obvious how this is an ad for Adobe Creative Cloud at first, it all makes sense in the end.
The film is the result of an earlier contest that Adobe launched with Pereira O’Dell, #MoviePosterMovie, which asked college students to create a poster for a not-yet-created film that would then become its new ad. Sam West, a senior at Boston University, was the winner and inspired “In the Time It Takes to Get There.”
“I had recently watched the Fyre Festival documentary and thought that the industry of social media influencers was ripe for satire,” Braff said in a statement to Adweek. “I think the candle in the poster led me to the late 19th century. I thought, ‘What would the morning of an Instagram star be like in 1865?'”
The images in the poster are integrated throughout the film, with the pencil, notepad and scissors serving as the means to create Lucille’s promotional post.
“I was so floored that this story had, in some way, been inspired by my poster,” West said, adding that as a 21-year-old college student, she certainly is “familiar” with “the culture of social media influencers. … I think the way that Zach [reimagined] that world is so compelling.”
Before reading the script, West said she imagined the film could be about anything “from paper-machete detectives to apple-eating telemarketers.”
“However, I wanted the poster to be open to interpretation because I’m interested in the stories we project onto things that don’t necessarily have innate narratives and what those stories say about us,” she said.
The recognition has led West to accept an internship with Pereira O’Dell in New York. She will join the office following her graduation in May.
Rob Lambrechts, Pereira O’Dell chief creative officer, told Adweek that it took “amazing partners” to bring this project to life.
“First, there was Sam West, the poster’s creator. Without her imagination, there is no film,” Lambrechts said. “And then, of course, RSA and Zach Braff, who embraced the project with such a passion it was inspiring. On top of all this, there was an extremely brave Adobe client who brought a bunch of creative people together and then trusted them to make something great.”
Lambrechts said he anticipates that cinematic brand films will be key to the future of marketing, noting that they are “surprisingly cost-effective” to engaging audiences.
“As the media landscape becomes ever more fractured, forward-thinking brands will devote more energy to building an audience instead of buying one,” he said. “Branded entertainment isn’t a silver bullet, but in this age of content, it will be an increasingly important asset for brands looking to connect with consumers in an authentic way.”