It goes without saying that Becky and Joe, the directors who brought us Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, do unnerving humour very well. It was for this reason Wieden+Kennedy came to them for its first round of ads for Trolli, a series of surreal films wherein the wormy sweets go around transforming dark scenes into psychedelic wonderlands. Now back for more creepy craziness, the new ads see human characters unwittingly interact with their monsters. In one, a young panicked boy tries to shush a blissfully ignorant choir of Trolli worms threatening to give away his hiding place to a tentacled fiend. In another, a worm goes on a kamikaze mission to save a town of villagers, turning the giants stomps into happy skips.
Becky Sloan says that the aesthetic they were aiming for could only have been achieved through stop motion. “We knew that we wanted to explore the awkward and other worldly movement that stop motion allows you to create, as it helps add a creepiness to the films that you couldn’t achieve with puppetry,” she explains. The duo are big fans of Jan Švankmajer and Bruce Bickford, who provided much inspiration for the project as well as 50s and 60s B movie horror and Ray Harryhausen’s Creatures, specifically when designing the monsters. “We wanted to capture the essence of those films but with a more cartoony claymation aesthetic.”
Having honed their craft from previous experiences, this time, the duo went in with a clear idea of visual tone and pacing, Joe Pelling says, and had fun expanding the world they’d created full of characters and a medieval village. “Our approach was to be a little less precious this time round, and maybe a little more lo-fi in some areas, like using claymation instead of silicon sculpts. The entire team seemed to agree that character and comedy should come first so we really tried to focus on performance over super detailed models.”
In the macabre settings, the naive neon worms are the protagonists, he explains, “very much like the Marvel cinematic universe. All the characters are linked in an incredibly complicated way, and have multiple merging backstories and timelines that only really smart people can understand. Having said that, we are not really sure [how they link up]. We like the idea that Trolli is a sort of strange cartoony fantasy world, with lots of weird creatures freaking out and eating each other and these weird worms are gradually moving through it and transforming it, so I think these films are a continuation of the worm's story.”
For the keen-eyed viewer, Becky says there are a few fun details to look out for: particularly the old man villager who gets booted by the cute monsters as it skips off destroying the town. “The puppet department made an incredible miniature version of the old man for this shot that was the size of a 5p coin. In case anyone is worried, the old man landed on some hay and is alive and well.” In the Hiding Place spot, the tentacle hand has a tiny mouth with teeth and an animatable tongue on the palm. “Unfortunately we had to cut the close-up shot of the hand where you see the mouth but if you look closely you can spot it on the wide!”
For more wormy adventures, don’t miss the social films, once again directed by Sam Gainsborough who was also going for a purposely handmade and not-too-perfect aesthetic. “I love it when stop-motion isn't too polished and has a lo-fi aesthetic, and I think this works especially well for comedy. I’m a huge fan of Terry Brain and Charlie Mills’ show Trap Door.” To create the different worlds, Sam used stop-motion puppets, plasticine and paint on glass.
GalleryBecky and Joe / Blinkink: Trolli adverts
Becky and Joe / Blinkink: Trolli advert