They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Distance, however, can be a real problem. When families, loved ones, or newfound friends are thousands of miles apart, there’s not much many can do but Skype. Still, chatting live with the online video-calling service doesn’t bring people together in a physical way.
Skype’s latest ad campaign is looking to change that. Created by San Francisco agency Pereira O’Dell (the agency behind the multi-Grand Prix-winning "The Beauty Inside" for Intel/Toshiba), the "Stay Together" campaign tells three stories of people separated by thousands of miles: There’s the father living in the U.S. who remains familiar to his family in Uganda through video chats; there’s the American zookeeper longing for the animal family she lived with in Australia; and there’s the Brazilian-American tween who stays in touch with her cousin-best friend back in Brazil as they both evolve into young women in different ways. Hosted on skypestaytogether.com, the "Stay Together" stories relate why Skype is so important to people. The campaign includes the spots and more in-depth personal videos, directed by Peking (the team of Nat Livingston Johnson and Gregory Mitnick) out of Station Film, subjects’ backgrounds, behind-the-scenes details, and a gallery of photos made possible by the project.
Each story of how they use Skype is touching, but the project adds a personal and physical twist--the Skype video of one set of loved ones is projected on a wall, while the other “poses” with them as Singaporean artist John Clang takes an otherwise impossible group photo. Suddenly a limited, virtual experience becomes more real and present, most heartwarmingly summed up by Denis, who left Uganda with nothing, not even a single photo of his family together. “This photo is the first family picture that I have.” Cue the tears.
PJ Pereira, chief creative officer at Pereira & O’Dell, suggests that Denis’ story truly typifies what makes a service like Skype special. “Some of my favorite memories aren’t big moments. They are those simple, lovely things that happened between myself and the people I care about. I believe this is true with all of us. Those tender, unplanned moments are the ones we are celebrating here.” In the video of Denis, we see his family enjoying the simplest activities together, like cooking meals, laughing, and engaged in comfortable banter. His hope is that, because of these calls, when his family reunites they won’t be strangers.
Not limited by this neat bit of visual trickery, the campaign also includes a story contest wherein people can submit their stories of how they use Skype to stay in touch with the far-flung important people in their lives. Since its launch last week, more than 300 stories have been submitted, ranging from star-crossed Twitter lovers to families strewn across the globe. When the campaign ends July 22, one person will be awarded the grand prize, which is a $10,000 United Airlines gift certificate so that participants can reunite--in real life.