Calabash Partners On PSA 'Rude2Respect'

Calabash Partners On PSA 'Rude2Respect'

Health stigma hurts. That’s the simple yet powerful message delivered in the animated PSA for The Simon Foundation entitled “Rude2Respect,” animated by Calabash, in conjunction with the creative design studio Group Chicago. The video can be seen on YouTube, as well as at Rude2Respect.org, affiliated social media channels and as part of various educational and marketing initiatives as the campaign evolves.

“We had seen Calabash's work and sought them out,” Barbara Lynk, Group Chicago’s Creative Director, said. “We were impressed with how well their creative team immediately understood the characters and their visual potential. Creatively they brought a depth of experience on the conceptual and production side that helped bring the characters to life. They also understood the spare visual approach we were trying to achieve. It was a wonderful creative collaboration throughout the process, and they are a really fun group of creatives to work with.”

Meet Blue And Pink

Opening with typography of their simple mission statement: “Challenging Health Stigma,” the PSA fades in to a warm yellow-hued wide shot from which the scene languidly emerges. It’s a warm, sunny day as two friends -- a short, teal-colored tear-dropped blob known simply as Blue and his slender companion “Pink” -- walk toward the camera. Blue nervously says, “I’m not sure about this,” to which Pink responds encouragingly, “You can’t stay home forever.”

From there the two embark on what seems like a simple stroll to get ice cream, but underlying that is a deeper message about how such common events can be fraught with anxiety for those suffering from an array of health conditions that often results in awkward stares, well-intentioned but inappropriate comments, or downright rude behavior. Blue and Pink confront all of these in the form of unseen, aggressive skateboarders; and a woman that means well but is definitely not helping, but they stick together and rise above the insults. The spot ends with the simple words “Health stigma hurts. We can change lives” followed by a link to www.rude2respect.org.

Based on illustrated characters created by Group Chicago’s Founder/Creative Director Kurt Meinecke, Calabash Creative Director Wayne Brejcha notes that early on in the creative process they decided to go with what he called a 2 and-a-half D look.

“There is a charm in the simplicity of Kurt’s original illustrations with the flat shapes that we had to try very hard to keep as we translated Blue and Pink to the 3D world,” Brejcha says. “We also didn’t want to overly complicate it with a lot of crazy camera moves roller-coastering through the space or rotating around the characters. We constrained it to feel a little like two-and-a- half dimensions – 2D characters, but with the lighting and textures and additional physical feel you expect with 3D animation.”

Finding The Pace

For Sean Henry, Calabash’s Executive Producer, the primary creative obstacles centered on finding the right pacing for the story.

“We played with the timing of the edits all the way through production,” Henry explains. “The pace of it had a large role to play in the mood, which is more thoughtful than your usual rapid-fire ad. Also, finding the right emotions for the voices was also a major concern, we needed warmth and a friendly mentoring feel for Pink, and a feisty, insecure but likeable voice for Blue. Our voice talent (Rich Parenti as “Blue” and Alex Hall as “Pink”) nailed those qualities. Additionally, the dramatic events in the spot happen only in the audio with Pink and Blue responding to off-screen voices and action, so the sound design and music had a major story-telling role to play as well.”

Brejcha adds, “I hope we see more of Blue and Pink. The campaign has such a worthy purpose, and the characters have potential for many more episodes and insights. The issue of health stigma is a universal one. Abstractions are more universal than specific, and the style represents every environment, every city, and every person stigmatized by the way in which some health difficulty has affected his or her appearance.”