This beautiful, Ghibli-esque ad invites Australians to donate their data to kids who need online access

An Australian-Danish creative collaboration for Optus takes visual cues from the iconic Japanese animation studio in a heartwarming advert for an important cause.

Date
14 April 2020
Reading Time
3 minutes

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With its charming characters that toe the line between cute and otherworldly, this animated advert for Australian telecoms firm Optus takes inspiration – like many before it – from Studio Ghibli, in just the right dosage. The ad promotes an initiative that has been going since December 2018 but has become even more important during the Covid-19 shutdown of schools, in which anyone with the My Optus app can donate some of their unused data to kids across Australia who might need it. It therefore allows young people to stay connected to the internet at a time when education and community exists primarily online. For the spot, Australian creative studio and production company Bear Meets Eagle on Fire (BMEF) collaborated with Danish animation house Sun Creature to make a short film about a boy struggling to keep up with his gang of jet packing friends when his power runs out.

“It’s such a simple story,” explains Micah Walker, who co-founded BMEF after stints at Wieden+Kennedy Portland and 72and Sunny in Sydney. “We just wanted a finished piece that was as visually interesting as it was emotional. It would’ve been easy to just make it cute. You can also try too hard and end up the other way, so we were conscious of balancing it out – interesting and crafted, but still emotive. So that imaginative world was important to us, even if the storyline was about the connection of the characters.” Having been fans of the Danish studio for a while, Walker and his team reached out and began working with Sun Creature’s team on developing the world they envisioned, and the characters who would inhabit it.

“It’s pretty obvious Ghibli and Miyazaki’s style was something we all loved, but it’s not like we just said ‘let’s do it like this’. We didn’t want to just rip it off poorly (neither did [Sun Creature]) and so a lot of our early chats were around finding a world that paid tribute, but was still our own.” For this careful balance, Walker relied on directors Louis Clichy and Guillaume Dousse who Walker says had “a lot more knowledge and references around finer details that we wouldn’t have really seen in the same way they did”.

In the story, the protagonist is saved by an anonymous stranger – who in real life are the data donators, but in this world is a family of creatures who spot him forlornly attempting to take off after his mates and send him a boost to jumpstart his jet pack. These creatures are key to the ad avoiding a verge into ‘cute’ territory. “We knew what we didn’t want,” Walker says. “We didn’t want it to feel cliche Australian, so no kangaroos or wombats. Same with the landscape.” There’s a subtle moment of humour when the boy looks over to the creatures, who quickly pretend to be mere grazing animals – and it is in these small details the advert succeeds in paying homage to Ghibli and all its joys.

GalleryBear Meets Eagle on Fire and Sun Creature: Jumpstart

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Bear Meets Eagle on Fire and Sun Creature: Jumpstart

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny joined the editorial team as It’s Nice That’s first news editor in April 2016. Having studied 3D Design, she has spent the last ten years working in design journalism. Contact her with news stories relating to the creative industries on news@itsnicethat.com.

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