As Shakespeare said, “To thy own self be true.” In Pop Secret’s “Dark Knight,” Nathan Love gets back to basics, and back to what they do best. In truth, when I first saw “Dark Knight,” the kid in me perked up. These are the ads of Saturday Morning: The ones of anthropomorphic junk food — humanized creatures that function as likable mascots to kids and grown-ups alike.
Spots like this hark back to the good ol’ days of 80’s product advertising — utilizing stop-motion and “claymation” as a vehicle for spokes-characters like The California Raisins, The Pillsbury Doughboy, or advertising’s salty playboy, Mr. Peanut: kitchen food with arms and legs. These characters personify the businesses they represent, but fail to instill a real sense of life for the characters—one that has human motivation—able to reason, and still sell a product. Until now.
In “Dark Knight,” Nathan Love hits all the marks of first-class animation while maintaining an old-fashioned authenticity to the craft of character. Indeed, the spot is not a bevy of ad-centric characters that prance about like dancing bears, nor is it an ad that, for the most part, plays it straight. Instead, it is grounded with a solid awareness of situational comedy and a knee-slapping parody gag. The spot keeps us watching, but doesn’t get lost in a cheap, pop art spectacle.
Naturally, one component of Nathan’s success is largely attributed to their attention to detail, which makes the Pop Secret brand readily identifiable through the spot’s aesthetic: a limited color palette musing with the labels trademark yellow and blue.
At the very least, the commercial sells a product, but at most, it brings a corporation down to human scale by suggesting a personality component: a by-product of animation that’s not only fun but effective. And although the characters in “Dark Knight” are sprung solely from Pop Secret branding, what sets them apart is that they have substance, and can dually function as living, breathing creatures and still be recognizable symbols.
Traditionally, while the consumer psychology of an ad-character may entice people to buy anything from car tires to cake mix, Nathan has created an illustrated product that, if just for a moment, makes us think there’s so much more to this than just popcorn.
For an in-depth look at the making of the Pop Secret campaign, see here.