Inside WeTransfer’s New Ad, and Its Intriguing Approach to Creativity

Plus, we finally figure out how it makes money

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Maker Mac Premo stars in file transfer site WeTransfer’s latest piece of work, “The Bunt Machine.” In it, we follow Premo as he creates a bunt machine for his baseball-loving daughter—a surprisingly short adventure—before deciding he wants to turn this process into a film production, complete with lots of collaborators.

It’s a tiny masterclass in how an idea is born, then elongated for broader consumption—a triumph of transformable IP! But more than that, it realistically illustrates the role WeTransfer plays in both facilitating global-village creativity while remaining unintrusive and invisible.

This isn’t terribly different from recent ads released by brands like Xerox and Squarespace, who also highlighted their value by demonstrating how real creatives use their tools. But Xerox works in document services, and Squarespace delivers websites—two products that are easy to understand and relate to the creative process.

In contrast, WeTransfer has always struck us as somewhat amorphous. From experience, we gauge that it’s the transfer service of choice for creative teams. It’s seamless, beautiful and hardly ever bugs. It’s also relatively inexpensive for what it is.

But as mentioned, it’s invisible—it basically facilitates the many creative deeds that happen before or after the sending and receiving of files. What makes it sexier than, say, Dropbox, Gdrive or Box, which feel more like admin tools than creative assets?

The answer lies both in WeTransfer’s simplicity—nicely explained by the tagline, “You make. We transfer”—and in its presentation.

WeTransfer pages are beautiful works of art. Every time we click on a WeTransfer link, we’re already curious about what we’ll see as the download spins itself onto our hard drives.

That, on its own, is a value-add that the brand has quietly worked to monetize. And it’s done a good job; its subscription service aside, 50 percent of its revenue comes from ads for brands like Google, Squarespace (ha!), Samsung, Netflix, HBO, Ikea, Levi’s, Nike, Chanel and G-Star.

So, it isn’t just your transfer service of choice; it’s a legit advertising platform, the first web service of its kind that offered brands full-screen takeover ads against more than 40 million active users per month. Those same ads offer 2.5 times more engagement than Facebook or Google, the brand claims, and hit visitors from 195 countries.

If WeTransfer is successful, it’s because it’s built a platform both on doing one thing really well (1 billion files transferred monthly!) while doubling down on its creative reputation. Some 30 percent of its takeover space is given to artists, with whom it often partners to develop still more projects: It worked with FKA Twigs on a documentary for her Baltimore Dance Project, and McSweeney’s on a 10-chapter story written between two authors over the course of a year, downloadable over five days.

But let’s return to Mac Premo. The video description for “The Bunt Machine” reads, “We wanted to tell a story about WeTransfer and creativity. Then we asked a creative do it for us. Here’s why.”

That “why” is answered not in words but in the form. Like WeTransfer, creativity is amorphous; it evolves even as we pursue it to what we believe is an endpoint. Rarely is a project ever truly completed, even when it is.

The result is that your transfer service of choice becomes a lifelong partner, facilitating the movement of your puzzle pieces from one place to the next. It’s a role the brand is not only happy to play; it revels in it. And unlike other brands, it never asks for more of you.

And it’s right—both to believe in the importance of its role and to never demand more room in your life. Sometimes your best partners are the ones that don’t insist.


Film Credits
Creative Agency: Doubleday & Cartwright
Executive Creative Director: Aaron Amaro
Creative Director: Nathaniel Friedman
Agency Producer: Adam Argersinger

Production Company: Supply & Demand
Director: Mac Premo
Founder/EP – Tim Case
EP/Managing Director – Jeff Scruton
Producer – Matt Zion-Basile
DP – Joseph Aguirre
Post Producer – Adrianna Dufay

End Card / Brand Credits:
Creative Agency: Stink Studios

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.