Dating app Hinge has worked with creative agency Red Antler on its latest campaign, which sees its “H” logo brought to life in puppet form, only to be killed off in a series of comically sadistic ways. The cute and fluffy white cube (named Hingie) is essentially the app icon in real-life, topped with wide and worried googley eyeballs – a testament to how much personality and humour is conveyed by the eyes alone. Following through the brand’s strapline “designed to be deleted”, the campaign sees Hingie doomed to its fate by being thrown on a campfire, run over, chucked in a washing machine, pecked apart by pigeons and squashed by an air conditioning unit.
“The app is the primary mode through which people interact with Hinge, and it’s the thing you delete when it’s done its job,” explains Lindsay Brillson, creative director at Red Antler, which also designed the Hinge logo three years ago. “So, it made sense for us to bring it to life for the express purpose of killing it every time a couple made a connection.”
The agency collaborated with directors Joel Nordstrom and Lars Ohlin of RBG6, as well as production company Aspekt and editors Mackcut, to realise Hingie as a live-action character, who they always envisioned as “furry, with big innocent eyes and the charcoal logo emblazoned on his chest”. Even so, the character development took ten rounds of fine-tuning, particularly the eyes. “From their placement, to the size of the pupils, to the materials from which they were made; the smallest adjustments had a huge impact on how you perceived the character. We had a very healthy debate about whether a glossy finish would make him look too much like he was about to cry. In the end, we landed on semi-gloss.”
Similarly, a lot of thought went into the fur, which had to have the right length and consistency to be “noticeably affected by mishaps that befall him,” and went through various physical tests (being set on fire and doused in water) to see their effects.
When designing Hingie’s death scenes, the creative team had to navigate the delicate line between edgy and gruesome, Lindsay continues. “We had an agency-wide ‘death storm’ to generate as many ideas as we could. The goal was for our audience to feel affection for Hingie, while at the same time rooting for his death. Conceptually, it was important that the couples never consciously cause Hingie’s death. The point is that they’re so engrossed with one another that they don’t even notice when he meets his end,” she explains. “There may have been a scenario involving an axe that got… axed. The scene where Hingie gets run over by a car was pushing it, so we used pink candy hearts in the place of any gore to soften the blow.”
“We were careful not to give Hingie too much personality,” comments Nathan Roth, CMO at Hinge. “While undeniably cute, he doesn’t make a sound or move throughout his various deaths. He’s simply along for the ride until couples hit it off and he meets his demise.”