Outdoor brand Hi-Tec is doing its version of Pharrell Williams's "Happy" video as part of a new campaign called The Walkumentary Series. The effort, via Amsterdam-based This That + The Other, comprises three online videos, two of which feature people wearing Hi-Tec gear during key moments in their lives, during which they raise the stakes considerably. The series teases the 2015 launch of new walking products from the company, which moved from the UK to Amsterdam in 2010.
The first film features Jon Beattie, who was the Steadicam operator for "24 Hours of Happy," Pharrell's extended experiment to promote his "Happy"song. The video features Beattie walking backward on the sidewalks of New York, past the Flatiron building, while wearing the awkward 100 pounds of gear he had to handle during the Pharrell video, as well as Hi-Tec shoes, which gets most of the focus has he walks in reverse. The ad is interspersed with "24 Hours of Happy" making-of footage.
In the ad, Beattie narrates how the music video was shot, joking about how many times they had to do the song to get the right footage, and how it required walking through Los Angeles for 10 miles a day for 11 days, strapped to the Steadicam getup. Technically, Beattie is walking forward in most of the 2:38 video for Hi-Tec; but the film is reversed, so we see cars, people, trains and buses also moving in reverse. The spot ends with him in Times Square where the making-of video is streaming on one of the square's LCD billboards.
The second film, “Yassan’s Proposal,” is the biggest marriage proposal ever by Tokyo recording artist Yassan. He quit his job and hit the road to spend half a year to walk across Japan and inscribe “Marry Me?” using the country as his canvas for the GPS artwork – a request that could be seen from space.
The third, called “Pirates,” follows Sonia and Alexandre Poussin, who embarked on a two-year Madagascan adventure with their children Ulysse and Philae in search of a mythical pirate burial plot. The French family navigate swamps and jungle accompanied by animated animals, including comedy crocodiles, parrots and iguanas that pop in and out of the story.
To Ed van Wezel, CEO of Hi-Tec, the campaign is designed as the counterbalance to hypermedia. He said, in a release, that iIn an era where technology drives an ever-increasing pace of life, there is a need to slow down" through "the simple act of walking."
Said Philip Brink, co-founder at This, That + The Other: “Each film views walking from a different angle to make the viewer re-think the original mode of transportation.”