We made the craziest SaaS movie of all time
It was a media company, it was a SaaS company
Foundational to everything we do here at Air is an ardent belief: every company is a media company.
In our over-connected era, creating and distributing content is a necessity of doing business. That’s why we built Air: to make it easy for brands and the people who build them to manage, share, and collaborate on this ever-increasing volume of visual assets.
We’re no different: we run ads, ship blog posts, and we even published a polished interview series called Out to Lunch earlier this year.
Every media outlet has their audiences and ours is creative professionals: creative directors, art directors, brand marketers, graphic designers, photographers; anyone whose job requires working with visual content. Air makes creatives’ jobs easier and it’s our job as a marketing team to spread the word. So we decided to make a short film about creative directors.
“We want the most brilliant creative and marketing teams in the world to use our tool,” said Air’s Communications Director Ariel Rubin. “So how do we get their attention? Compelling and provocative creative work. That’s the moat. And it’s moonshots like this that will get us there — or die trying.”
Our philosophy: hire great talent and trust the process
One thing we’ve learned from interviewing scores of creative directors over the past couple of months: the best creative work is produced when you write a well-defined brief, hand it off to passionate people, and just let them cook.
We may be another B2B SaaS company but our key brand inspirations are not. We want to continue to look outside our industry, to pull creative from the best and the brightest — regardless of the vertical.
Liquid Death puts out a provocative and ambitious campaign seemingly every week. Why can’t a SaaS brand do the same? Liquid Death made a video of Martha Stewart chopping off peoples’ hands, to sell dismembered hand candles, to sell cans of water. Surely there’s a lesson in there on how to sell SaaS!
We needed somebody who could pull off this kind of ambitious campaign for us, and we found that ambition in Ivan Cash and his collaborators at Cash Studios.
Our brief to Cash was simple: Produce an original campaign that will get the attention of creative directors. Budget and time is...tight, but we'll be the best client you ever had: We want you to make something you’re truly proud of.
Within 24 hours, the Cash team sent us a deck and the project was born: Oxygen. Says Ivan:
It's a joy to work with clients who embolden creative risks. The Air team was super collaborative while trusting us to get as weird and boundary-pushing as possible, and I think the final product speaks for itself. Air is a tremendous product — because we were able to use it to help make the film, thankfully no creative directors were injured in the process.
Walking the walk, breathing the Air
Contract signed, I went out to scout locations. Basically, we were looking for the conference room from Severance. I went to a few different locations, shooting some photos and videos that I uploaded to Air to share with the crew. We ended up finding a beautiful, perfect conference room at one of our wonderful investors' offices (shoutout R&R Ventures!).
In the meantime, our Oxygen project board in Air was quickly populated with reference shots, costume references, and final casting choices. Within two weeks, the stage was set and we were ready to shoot.
We shot the whole thing in one day and the following week, the Cash team got to work on the edit. They then uploaded a draft to Air, where we (the Air team) left our feedback. To be clear, we did not have much feedback!
Yes, that’s me, Francis, on the left. I was roped into playing “Interviewer’s Assistant (Nonspeaking)” — I’m told I’ve got quite the talent.
Two additional rounds of feedback later, and we were set.
In the meantime, our internal team was working on the question of distribution: media companies do create content, but the meat of their work is in content distribution, or publishing.
Getting the word out
Creating content is only half the battle. The trick is actually getting it in front of the people you want to watch it. You can hire a creative director to make a short film about creative directors, but how do you get thousands of real-life creatives to watch the damn thing?
We put our heads together and came up with a list of tactical bets. We know creative directors read publications like Ad Age and blogs like Why Is This Interesting. We know the general areas in New York City with high concentrations of creative office workers. We know influencers who already have the attention of creatives. These were a few of our tactics:
Wildposting: This one was big for us — our first physical ads in New York City! We worked with an agency to put up spooky QR code posters in areas of NYC where creatives are known to hang out: Williamsburg, SoHo, and the East Village.
Air team: We believe an organization’s greatest asset is its people. We wanted everyone on our team to share the video with as many people as possible, so as an extra incentive, we put up a plane ticket prize for whoever’s social share garnered the most engagement.
Content: We made sure to produce as much collateral as possible, including shooting BTS photos on shoot day. Among other efforts, I also went down to the building that houses the Ogilvy and Grey Group offices, on 5th Avenue in NYC, for a photo op. I had one of our product managers, Brian, dress up in a priest outfit and hand out flyers with the campaign slogan and QR code on them until security told us to leave. We had a blast!
Direct outreach: Age-old question: how do we get people at some of the biggest agencies in the world to actually click the link? We decided to buy 30 URLs and redirect them to the campaign landing page. So we bought www.RIPogilvy.com and 24 other URLs, then emailed a few people from each agency with a cheeky (and self-deprecating) message.
The short film itself was the crown jewel here, but we of course needed to produce a slew of other assets. Our talented Brand Designer, Chelsea Hope, took the reins here. She spun up posters, landing pages, flyers, all manner of social media-formatted assets, the cover image for this blog post…about 68 promotional assets in total, not counting components. She worked mainly in Figma and the final assets all moved to Air as soon as she finished them, where the team was able to grab them for distribution. Our “Oxygen Assets” board holds every piece of the puzzle, and it’s where we’ve returned daily to grab assets as we’ve promoted this campaign over the past weeks.
Take a deep breath
From all of us at Air and Cash Studios both — thank you. Thank you for watching the film, sharing it with your friends and colleagues, and for being curious enough to read the backstory.
We’re immensely proud of what we produced here and it represents a pivotal moment for Air. This is shaping up to be our most ambitious year to date, and we’re only one quarter in. Our Out to Lunch video series is out and we’re about to film the second season; we’ve conducted over 50 interviews, all this year, for the 100 Creative Directors series; we’ve put out a short film; and that’s just the media side of the business!
Next month brings the long-awaited launch of our public API, making Air more vital than ever as a connective platform in the creative process. We'll also be launching Libraries, and with it an unprecedented level of organizational clarity for our Air users across the globe.
Spread the word: you can survive without Air, but not for long.
Cash Studios produced and delivered the Oxygen project with incredible professionalism and speed. Our sincere thanks to all involved — fantastic work all around.
Production Company: Cash Studios
Director: Ivan Cash
Executive Producer: Katie Gunn
Featuring: Austin Rye, Rivera Reese, Anwar Wolf, Valerio Moraga, Nicole Daniels, Francis Zierer
Creative Directors: Julienne Jones & Matt Kalish
Producer: Jake Ewald
Director of Photography: Soren Nielsen
Writers: Julienne Jones, Matt Kalish, Ivan Cash
Editor: Blake Bogosian
1st Assistant Camera: Zach Tidmore
2nd Assistant Camera: Beth Fletcher
Gaffer: Guillaume Caron
Key Grip: Rome Petersson
Production Designer: Celina Arslanian
Art Assistant: Luismi Seda
Art Assistant: Matthew Yturralde
Wardrobe Stylist: Tiffany Jordan
Wardrobe Assistant: Louise Corbet
Hair & Make-up Artist: Abigail Hayden
Sound Mixer: Andrew Litton
Production Assistant: Sabeena Singhani
Production Assistant: Réal Gill
Production Assistant: Adefolarin Jemilugba
Casting: Stacy Gallo Casting
Assistant Editors: Evan Mueller, Elise Ahrens
Composite Artist: Eric Pascua
Original Score: Shannon Ferguson
Audio Design & Mix: Pete Kneser
Color: Sam Howells / Blacksmith
Special Thanks: Thomas Annicq, Max Jahn, R&R Ventures, Hush Studios, Hal Kirkland