Do We Care What’s Real, as Long as We’re Content? This Eerie Ad Makes You Wonder

A dark peek into the world of video game We Happy Few.

Is this happiness? Is this joy? Is this a dog? Kickstand
Headshot of David Griner

The Matrix immortalized it as the red bill / blue pill moment—a choice between living blissfully ignorant or being soul-crushingly aware of the horrors around you. In the real world, it’s a decision we make each day when we choose whether and where to get news about what’s happening all around us, in the halls of power, in villages half a world away or in homes just down the block.

Now agency Kickstand meditates on that question of comfort versus malaise in an unnerving trailer for video game We Happy Few, set amid a drug-drenched alternate reality of Britain the 1960s.

The spot is a minimalist iteration of the often-used “ask your doctor” ad for a fake prescription drug, but it avoids the temptation of showing too much about the darkness of reality. Instead, we just get a fleeting and haunting look at how things truly are.

The agency behind the ad, Kickstand, was co-founded by Matt Bull, who first rose to national prominence in 2013 with his attention-grabbing outdoor work for a restaurant located “between some trailers and a condemned motel” and the fictional URL Since then, he cofounded Kickstand in Dallas with technologist Bo Bartlett.

If you’d like to see some of their work that’s a bit less dystopian but still enjoyably dark, be sure to watch their ad for Ted’s Pain Cream, featuring the product’s co-inventor, Greg, who didn’t get his name on the box.


Client: Gearbox Publishing/Compulsion Games
Agency: Kickstand
Creative Directors: Matt Bull/Bo Bartlett
Production: Lonely Standard
Director: Wheeler Sparks
Producers: Jeff Walker/Lisa Normand
Director of Photography: Bongani Mlambo
Editor: Wheeler Sparks

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@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."