Maersk is one of those brands that most of us will never have really thought about. But you’ve probably seen the brand’s logo painted on the side of a shipping container conveying goods along the supply chains that underpin our patterns of consumption.
Since its founding in 1904, the Danish company has become one of the world’s largest shipping giants. But, in recent years, Maersk has expanded its role beyond the seas - becoming a modern logistics company that can transport goods from source to destination.
In 2018, Danish creative agency &Co./NoA created the ‘All the Way’ platform to reflect this transformation, approaching a B2B advertising brief with a people-first mentality. The latest campaign on that platform is ‘Discover New Paths’, which takes inspiration from Indiana Jones and Lara Croft to tell the story of logistics professional Diana and her journey to deliver a piece of cargo as she overcomes the challenges and tediousness of traditional, complex logistics experiences.
Working with director Tore Frandsen and using virtual production and LED volumes, the team were able to tell an adventure story that feels far from the dry B2B advertising we might expect.
LBB’s Alex Reeves spoke to creative directors Peter Dinesen and Claus Collstrup – who have been part of the creative transformation of Maersk since the beginning in 2018 – plus senior art director Mads Alexander Nielsen, and senior copywriter Daniel Norit, who joined Peter and Claus to create this latest Maersk campaign.
LBB> Let's talk about laying the groundwork for this campaign. When the creative transformation for Maersk began in 2018, what were the key things that needed addressing?
Claus> Maersk decided to break with their 100-year legacy of being a shipping company to become a modern logistics company that could transport goods from start to finish, and not just across the sea. We started in 2018 by creating the ‘All the Way’ platform, which fuelled the transformation internally within Maersk and their 100,000 employees, who also needed to understand the new role of the company. This was made possible through a creative transformation that moved Maersk far away from the classical business-to-business advertising.
Peter> We chose to talk to the various target groups as people, and not as business profiles. This enabled us to do emotional creative storytelling and turn it into something really powerful. The very first campaign
was about the mindset you need to be able to change - about the way our mind tries to stop us, and how to overcome that.
LBB> And what have been the shifts you've been able to bring about for the brand since then?
Peter> We’re not done working on the positioning, because Maersk has been identified as a shipping company for more than a hundred years. It’s a big freighter to turn, but we can see from the numbers that we’ve come a long way already.
Claus> Regarding the creative choices we made, we’ve proven that creativity works in an industry that’s usually very conservative when it comes to creative output. Perhaps it actually works even better because people aren’t expecting it in a B2B environment. At least, we have two WARC Grands Prix that say so.
LBB> For this specific brief, what was the starting point?
Mads Alexander> We needed to build on the previous years’ campaigns with a cinematic film at its core. This time, the message was to show the feeling of integrated logistics. At first glance, ‘integrated logistics’ didn’t spark a lot of emotions.
Daniel> But in its most basic form, it means that when you partner with Maersk, they will help you get anything from A to B and support you in overcoming every unexpected obstacle along the way, which sometimes means re-routing or turning obstacles into opportunities. That held a lot of drama, and was a great starting point for a story.
LBB> It's a very abstract, poetic way of telling a story about logistics. How did you end up on that idea?
Daniel> Our ambition was to make a film that would resonate with as many as possible - not just people in logistics. So, we started talking about different genres and stories from film and literature that centre around a quest. They have a clear premise, but it’s what they have to overcome, the journey, that is the interesting part.
Mads Alexander> And when we thought about it, people working in logistics have a lot in common with Indiana Jones or Lara Croft. - they both have to deal with a lot of unexpected things on their journey towards delivering something important. The genre had a lot of room to work in hidden logistics details that would not only enrich the story, but would serve as Easter eggs for logistics pros.
LBB> And how did that develop into what we see on screen? Was it meticulously storyboarded early on or did you improvise as it came together?
Mads Alexander> We spent months writing different versions of the script in the classic film script style to get it to a good place in terms of pace, length, and story. We killed a lot of darlings along the way, because they became too complex to fit into the story. Everything from swinging axes and falling floors to crushing ceilings and mind-boggling riddles.
Daniel> Dialogue was another big thing. We had to hint at logistics phrases, but we didn’t want to strangle everyone with lingo. The storyboard wasn’t created until the first PPM, and more as a tool to see if shots and budget would match.
LBB> When you got Tore Frandsen on board, what did he bring to the film?
Claus> When we brought Tore on board, we had a finished script and a big wish to use the volume technology as some of the first in our industry. Tore quickly pointed out that our script was not particularly suited for shooting on the volume screens, so together, we rewrote the script to make better use of the new technology. This can be seen, for example, through the addition of the flashbacks in the beginning of the film, which we couldn’t have done without the volume.
Peter> Tore also has a natural love for the adventure genre, and we went all in on designing the different elements in the film such as the stone wheel and the blue artefact in the spirit of other great adventure films. It was a meticulous and time-consuming process to convert Maersk’s offerings into old stone and crystal, but we think it shows. We also knew from Tore’s previous work that he could create a refreshing take on the archetype hero. A bit more human. A lot more relatable.
LBB> Can you talk about how the LED volumes shaped the film? What was it like to work with that technology?
Claus> When we first started out on the campaign, we had the idea of using the volume for the film. Because Maersk is on the forefront of digital, we thought it would be cool to take that into the actual production as well. But very few people knew how to use it, and neither did we, so it was a steep learning curve in the beginning, with lots of people involved.
Peter> It was basically lots of trial and error before we got it all right. The actual content that we put on the screens had to be created, and we chose to use the Unreal Engine which is basically a computer game graphics engine where you can create 3D worlds and walk around inside of them in real-time. We needed a jungle, a South American town, a big cityscape and a modern office, and those were created from existing Unreal models which were then altered and manipulated into what we needed for this specific project. The great thing about the volume screen is that it gave us the freedom to place a scene anywhere we liked without having to move anywhere. We didn’t need to think about cost, time, or gravity.
Claus> Another advantage of using the volume instead of the traditional green screen method was that the DoP could see everything in camera and make much better framings and cinematography than if it had been our characters acting against a green screen. And our actors didn’t have to imagine the different places – they were in them. The volume technology also removed a lot of post-production work. But be aware that for something like this, pre-production is much longer, since everything that goes on the screens has to be created before shooting.
LBB> Are there any particular parts of the campaign that you're particularly satisfied with?
Mads Alexander> The big wheel was a lot of fun to develop. This symbolises all the parts that go together to enable integrated logistics. Even though it’s only on for a couple of seconds, we spent a lot of time on this. Maersk liked it so much that they decided to get a physical version made for their headquarters.
Claus> We’re also really satisfied with the fact that we went into the project with zero knowledge about the volume, and ended up with something that at least one person on LinkedIn described as ‘one hell of an ad’. Thanks, Mom!
Daniel> This was only possible because there was a mutual agreement between agency, client and production that we would need to be in this together and cut each other some slack because we all needed to learn. And that promise was kept.
Peter> We also need to mention the collaboration with the good people from Maersk, who have shown great courage and trust throughout this campaign which is the fourth campaign we do together.