Wieden + Kennedy’s First Ads for Instagram Were Made Almost Entirely Within the Stories App

Charming, low-fi films even got their own festival

Several dozen Instagram Stories films were screened at an Insta Stories Festival in Cologne, Germany, last week.

Creativity can be found anywhere. Nowhere was this better punctuated than at Cannes Lions this year, where a music video won Film Craft, a branded film won in Titanium, and an internal creative team took the Film Grand Prix.

To illustrate this point in the world we actually live in, Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam launched “Stories Are Everywhere,” a massive Instagram Stories campaign, and the agency’s first work for the platform.

The multi-channel effort launched in the U.S., Germany and Italy in April, and was inspired by how creative people can be with a few stickers, brushes and some live video at the ready.

“Instagram is one of the most loved brands in the world, and it’s their first global campaign,” says Thierry Albert, creative director at W+K Amsterdam. “In a world full of hyperstylized communications, it felt fresh to shoot the campaign on iPhones, using only the Stories features. No cheats. No tricks. Anyone can do what we did. All you need is the Instagram app.”

The work yielded 26 films, unveiled at an Insta Stories Festival in Cologne, Germany, on June 24. Here’s a compilation of a few of them:

The “stories” here range from the epic, like a gorgeous snowboarding jump, to the irreverent—a snowboarder sticker on vanilla ice cream.

These aren’t tales like the ones your parents read to you before bed. Instead, “Stories Are Everywhere” reflects how users have adapted a tactic advertisers have relied on for generations—creating semantic shortcuts to express a mood, a feeling or a moment, with the goal of grafting elicited emotions onto a product or brand.

The biggest brand today being, well, yourself.

“We intentionally mirrored the experience of Instagram Stories, so all the executions were short, fun and surprising,” says Instagram executive creative director Bekah Sirrine. “We didn’t take ourselves too seriously, because that’s what connecting with friends on Instagram is all about.”

Leading up to the festival, W+K used over 270 billboards and guerrilla out-of-home efforts, appearing on train stations in Philadelphia and Milan.

Images like that don’t do the work justice, though. Here are a few shots of the creative out in the wild, where it all but bursts with weirdness and color:

W+K also took over a whole cinema in Cologne, from the floor to the toilet signs. All this in just under three months, including video production.

The Insta Stories Fest itself must have been a sight to behold. In addition to a huge BOOM BOOM BANG BANG confetti cannon, a donut wall, an Oguturi boom forest and other Stories-inspired entertainment, German influencer Dagi Bee gave the local event some famous flavor.

And because this is Instagram, there was also an Insta-ready photo wall.

Judging from the pictures, the whole Fest was made to be Insta-Storied.

“When Instagram launched Stories, it caught the attention of the entire W+K Amsterdam team, so the challenge of bringing that same excitement to a diverse group of users was a dream assignment,” says Clare Pickens, group account director at W+K Amsterdam.

“Whether you love pineapples, dancing horses, inspirational quotes, ramen hair or Fashion Week, you can find it on Instagram, and you can find someone else who loves it, too. Unearthing these insights through the platform and delivering them in entertaining ways, coupled with the fast pace of work, challenged us to think about how we create content and embrace an exciting new journey with Instagram.”

The biggest challenge was keeping everything “low-fi and homemade,” Albert adds. “We always tend to overproduce things in advertising, and it would have been wrong here. So, we kept everything simple. From the print shoot to the film production, everything can be replicated by someone with a phone and the Instagram app. And we improvised a lot, like you’d do in real life with your mates. There’s a low-key homemade feel to it that’s so refreshing.”