Ray-Ban Ad Follows The Red Thread

Last week, American film production company Never Hide Films released ‘Yarn’, a short film in which two buddies decide to let loose a giant ball of red yarn at the top of a hill in San Francisco.

The ball rolls downhill, through the city’s picturesque streets, until we realise that the exercise was actually a bizarre extreme sport requiring the wearing of Ray-Ban sunglasses. There’s also a cute Flickr gallery of the ball’s adventures through San Francisco.

Trouble is, this isn’t the first ad that features a giant ball of red yarn unfurling through a city that has trams. Indeed, we wonder if anyone from Never Hide Films has seen Publicis Mojo and Exit Films’ multi-award-winning ‘Lose Yourself In Melbourne’ campaign for Tourism Victoria, popularly known as the ‘Red Thread’.

‘Lose Yourself In Melbourne’ was created in 2006 deliberately to bait interstate hipsters into visiting Melbourne. “We’re marketing to a segment of the population that will lead to us attracting high yield visitors,” Tourism Victoria CEO Greg Hywood said when the campaign was launched. “There are roughly a million people in that segment and I’d divide them into two categories: socially aware and creative opinion leaders.”

But it has also proven irresistible bait to awards judges, winning a string (ahem) of industry gongs. It scooped the pool at the 2007 Melbourne Art Directors Club awards, winning in ten categories including the coveted “Best of Show”. It also won an Eckersleys Award for Typography (which went to Letterbox, the type studio that created its logo), a 2007 Caxton Award for Best Campaign, and was nominated for an award for best online/offline integration in the 2007 AIMIA Awards.

Is this just a coincidence, or a deliberate borrowing of an idea? The feel of the two ads is quite different, starting with the soundtracks. ‘Lose Yourself In Melbourne’ creates a whimsical mood with Joanna Newsom’s ‘Sprout And The Bean’, perhaps only because it contains the lyrics “it is a twisted string”. Meanwhile, ‘Yarn’ amps up the awesome with ‘Miss Alissa’ by Eagles of Death Metal.

‘Yarn’ is intended to slot neatly that genre of ‘viral’ advertising in which people do quirky and cool stunts in urban surroundings, subtly incorporating the hero product. The string doesn’t really serve a purpose in the film other than to be the quirky and cool McGuffin.

Meanwhile, ‘Lose Yourself In Melbourne’ plays on the labyrinthine qualities of Melbourne – the string is meant to guide visitors through the city’s constantly harped-upon laneways. However, it’s inescapably a pretentious ad, and was justifiably lampooned by The Chaser’s War On Everything.

At worst, Never Hide Films look unimaginative and not especially on the ball (sorry). At best… Publicis Mojo should take this as a compliment.

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  1. T J Honeysuckle says:

    The ball of string in the header pic is facing the wrong way.

  2. Andrew Tijs says:

    That is a very good point. Like a condom rolled inside out.

  3. Kurt Perschke, artist, visual poet (and not spin merchant).
    Redball, Sydney, 2005

    Red Ball, Sydney, 2005

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