W+K’s Delightful Animated Film Captures the Magic of Oregon in Spring

Its claims are 'Only Slightly Exaggerated'

Travel Oregon

If you book a trip to Oregon this spring, you might get to ride giant rabbits through rainbow fields, or see shooting stars splash down in lakes, sparking dazzling showers of light.

Or perhaps you’ll marvel as cottony cloud-codgers dispatch magical raindrops that coax vibrant foliage to bloom in mere moments across the rolling hills. Or gasp in delight as whales swim gracefully through sun-speckled skies.

These are just some of the fantastical sights on display in Wieden + Kennedy Portland’s new 90-second animated film for Travel Oregon. And such claims, we’re assured, are “Only Slightly Exaggerated.”

Asked to lure visitors for spring adventures in the Oregon outdoors, W+K creatives soon realized “every travel campaign had one thing in common—they all looked the same, and even the most beautiful nature photography and sexy rugged outdoorsy people start to fall flat in ad after ad,” agency copywriter Ansel Wallenfang tells AdFreak.

They hit on the counterintuitive notion of not showing actual locations, but presenting a stylized animated travelogue designed “to capture the feelings of being here,” Wallenfang says. “We were excited to try and hone a style that felt right for Oregon. It couldn’t be too childish, or too anime. We wanted to create the sweet spot of sophistication and whimsy.”

Psyop directors Kylie Matulick and Todd Mueller, working with animation house Sun Creature, delivered a delightfully daft but compelling film that combines elements of anime (Miyazaki), Disney, Dr. Seuss (that cloud-dude!) and storybook illustrations. Their complex, fanciful style, packed with fast-moving imagery, feels familiar yet fresh. It’s made especially appealing by a lush, cinematic score from Emmy-winning composer Jim Dooley, performed by the Oregon Symphony.

“When we were building the brief, we talked about experiences we’d had trying to capture Oregon’s beauty—snapping a picture of Mt. Hood on a hike, only to look at our phones and think, ‘No, but it’s better than that, I swear! You have to believe me, social media!'” recalls Travel Oregon vp of marketing Kevin Wright. “Even with the most advanced cameras and editing software, it’s almost impossible to capture what you’re really seeing, feeling and experiencing. That’s because Oregon is magic, and you really have to be here to get it. Oregon feels like it was plucked out of the greatest tales of fantasy and adventure—and we wanted to give it the treatment it deserves.”

Oregon tourism has boomed in recent years, though there’s been concern about the possible impact of last summer’s wildfires on the state’s travel business.

“Only Slightly Exaggerated” isn’t a response to that, per se, but a broader effort to show off “the diversity of experiences, environments and states of being our state has to offer,” Wright says.

Moreover, “we want to provide a welcome response to the pressure and anxiety people are feeling in everyday life,” he says. “Animation taps into a freedom and innocence many of us can remember from times spent outdoors, with dirt under our fingernails. It’s also important to us that animation speaks to a broad audience and feels welcoming to all.”

So far, plenty of folks have felt welcomed by the spot on Travel Oregon’s social channels, with BILLIONS of viewers since it dropped two days ago.

That’s only slightly exaggerated. Still, the numbers are impressive—nearly 400,000 YouTube views (it ranked among the site’s trending videos yesterday), and more than 1 million Facebook looks in 48 hours.

Client: Travel Oregon
Campaign: Only Slightly Exaggerated
Synopsis: Some things can’t be captured in photos or on film. Like the magic of Oregon’s forests and waterfalls. Or the feeling of climbing Mt. Hood, or of being humbled by the Wallowas. So here’s a little film about those big feelings you might find when you’re here. We swear we’re only slightly exaggerating. Just a little.

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Creative Directors: Jason Kreher
Writer: Ansel Wallenfang
Art Director: Nick Stokes
Producer: Nicole Kaptur
Account Team: Kimmy Cunningham + Lindsay Varquez
Creative Manager: Leola Ristau
Executive Creative Directors: Jason Bagley + Eric Baldwin

Production Company: Psyop
Director: Kylie Matulick, Todd Mueller
Managing Director: Neysa Horsburgh
Executive Producer: Lucy Clark
Head of Production: Drew Bourneuf
Producer: Nick Read
Associate Producer: Lara Arikan
Designers: Joe Ball, Devon Manney, Andrew Park, Robin Thompson
2D Supervisor: Ryan Raith
Storyboard Artist: Max Forward
Compositor: Ryan Raith, Joe Ball, Sarah Blank, Tommy Wooh
Flame Artist: Kim Stevenson
Editor: Brett Nicoletti, Lance Pereira
Assistant Editor:: Rob Cavedo

2-D Animation: Sun Creature
Executive Producers: Guillaume Dousse, Charlotte de la Gournerie
Producer: Guillaume Dousse
Associate Producer: Simon Lee Bresling
Line Producer:: Charlotte Sanchez
Production Manager:: Fie Ørnsø
Art Directors: Simon Lee Bresling, Guillaume Dousse
Animation Supervisors:: Liane-Cho Han, Kenneth Ladekjær
Background Supervisor: Patrice Suau
Storyboard Artist:: Liane-Cho Han
Colorscript Artist: : Daniel Cacouault
Concept Artists: Patrice Suau, Daniel Cacouault, Thomas Reteuna, Ben Marsaud, Mourad Elias Seddiki, Simon Masse, Leïla Courtillon, Linnea Sterte, Luca Vitale, Lucas Durkheim, Samuel Klughertz
Character Designers: : Kenneth Ladekjær, Luca Vitale
Layout Background Artists:: Simon Masse, Jean-Michel Boesch, Linnea Sterte, Thomas Reteuna, Jade Khoo
Layout Posing Artists:: Kenneth Ladekjær, Pierre Rütz, Mourad Elias Seddiki
Layout Compositing Artists:: Birk Von Brockdorff, Anthony Lejeune
Background Painters:: Patrice Suau, Simon Masse, Thomas Reteuna, Matthew Vince, Grace Liu, Sylvain Fabre, Théo Boubounelle, Alexis Liddell
Character Animators: Pierre Rütz, Christoffer Elsborg Kramme, Mourad Elias Seddiki, Thibaud Petitpas, Kenneth Ladekjær, Cyrille Chauvin
FX Animators: Thibaud Petitpas, Olivier Malric, Rachid Guendouze, Ines Scheiber, Stéphane Chung, Kenneth Ladekjær, Touraj Khosravi
Clean-up Artists: Christoffer Elsborg Kramme, Kay Sales, Laura Büchert Schjødt, Nawell Sdiri, Marick Queven, Sandrine Han Jin Kuang, Mette Ilene Holmriis
Color Detail Animators:: Christoffer Elsborg Kramme, Kay Sales, Laura Büchert Schjødt, Nawell Sdiri, Sandrine Han Jin Kuang, Mette Ilene Holmriis, Pierre Rütz, Mikkel Mainz Elkjær
Animation Color Artists:: Christoffer Elsborg Kramme, Kay Sales, Laura Büchert Schjødt, Nicoline de Selsted Lind, Mette Ilene Holmriis, Mikkel Mainz Elkjær
Senior Compositing Artists: Birk Von Brockdorff, Paul Ó Muiris

Music House : Walker
Music Supervisor: Sara Matarazzo
Executive Producer: Sara Matarazzo
Composer: James Dooley
Orchestrator: Tim Davies
Mixer: Steve Kaplan
Music Performance : Live recording by the Oregon Symphony
Performed and Recorded at Arlene Schnitzer Hall
Vice President + General Manager of Oregon Symphony: Steve Wenig
Director of Operations + Production Manager Oregon Symphony: Jacob Blaser
Stage Manager Oregon Symphony: Brent Bowden,
Audio Engineer Oregon Symphony: Tim Boot

Mix + Sound Design
Mix Company: Lime
Mixer: Matt Miller
Assistant Mixer: Lisa Mermelstein
Producer: Susie Boyajan, Kayla Phungglan

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@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.