The good people of Norway are facing a drunken-boating problem—of the roughly 30 Norwegian boat-related deaths each year, about a quarter occur when the operator is under the influence. A PSA aimed at addressing the problem has become an unexpected viral sensation.
Non-profit AV·OG·TIL—an organization promoting safe driving and boating through alcohol-free environments—hired Melvær & Lien with the brief to avoid a typical, preachy PSA. The small shop is based in Stavanger, a city on the North Sea in southern Norway.
The agency delivered, with a charming, goofy spot depicting a blissed-out but sober sea salt effortlessly docking his dinghy while champagne-sipping swells in a fancy powerboat can't quite seem to reach their port.
"There are not many things in life that are more embarrassing than making a huge mess of a docking attempt," Andreas Melvær, the Melvær & Lien partner who masterminded the spot, told Adweek (with a perhaps uniquely Norwegian perspective on life's most embarrassing moments). "There are always spectators, and you know they will be talking about you. We figured it would be something people would relate to."
Apparently they did. After its debut online, the spot took off, scoring mentions in the Norwegian press and eventually making its way overseas via social media and Reddit. The narration is in Norwegian, but people from all over the world responded to the campaign, Melvær said. Some wrote on Facebook that although they couldn't read what the ad said, it was the best video they had ever seen.
"When over 2 million English speakers had seen the movie and tried to make sense of it, we made an English version and posted it in the comments of Facebook," said Melvær, who worked on the idea, art direction, script, direction and casting for the campaign.
Once that version was posted to the "Powerboat fans and friends" Facebook group, it racked up over 2 million views and nearly 34,000 shares in just a few days. AV·OG·TIL's initial Facebook post has garnered almost 850,000 views.
Melvær estimates that more than 5 million people have watched the video, with two more scheduled for release soon. The campaign's first spot took one day to shoot and roughly seven days to produce. He attributes its success to a relatable story line and a fun lead character—portrayed by an engineer from Stavanger with no prior acting experience but an impressive beer belly.
"Docking is often the most challenging part of a day at sea," Melvær said. "So if you are going to give the art form of docking any justice, you better stay stone-cold sober."