Why Sofology put Owen Wilson back in the hot seat for another big TV ad

Sofology, a furniture retailer from the northwest of England, made a surprise splash when it secured Hollywood star Owen Wilson for a brand awareness-raising ad campaign in 2017 – two years later and the “king of chill” has returned as its ambassador but this time there’s a whole new host of objectives to tick off.

After it rebranded from Sofaworks to Sofology and was acquired by rival DFS, the ‘Marley and Me’ actor spearheaded a long-running campaign. Now two years later, Wilson’s chilled-out soliloquy now boasts a K9 companion although the company still hopes that it’s sofas still steal the show.

Sebastian Brown, director of creative of Sofology, told The Drum that the latest in the ‘Feel at home on a sofa you love’ campaign will hero the product after the 2017 work delivered above and beyond on its brand awareness goals. With the help of creative agency Alpha Century, it had Wilson for a single day, which meant that Sofology’s difficulty was in getting the most out of its talent in a short space of time.

Brown said: “We wanted to continue the increase in awareness that we captured the first-time round but also wanted to hero the product more. In the first ad, Owen articulated what it means to feel at home on a sofa he loved, so the product took a back seat. But in the latest one, the product is now the hero.”

He added: “In the first campaign, we also didn’t get as much supporting through the line content.” Brown explained how the ads shift focus from the star to the intricate details of each sofa while getting “intimate” with the camera work and using the script to “subliminally” draw focus away from the star, were the tactics employed.

On its laid-back ambassador, who put in more of a shift, than the comfortable couch surfing suggests, Brown said: “He’s the perfect fit for us. He breathes relaxation. We call him like he’s the king of chill. He embodies feeling at home on a sofa both in his personality but also in his delivery.

“This time around we had a bit more fun with the scripts, but Wilson has a real air of authenticity around his delivery. When he’s delivering the script, it doesn’t actually feel like he’s presenting. It suits the personality of our brand and it’s really intimate and authentic, so it doesn’t feel forced.”

Director Chris Cotton also returned to the set, having built a relationship with Wilson in the first campaign and found there was more demand upon him this time around in order to ensure the extra material was caught this time around.

Additional assets were created to showcase more products in more media environments. Chiefly, there will be two TVCs and six social videos. Furthermore, sofa photography from Flood will match up the website and in-store assets. The in-house team also captured behind the scenes footage of Wilson’s shoot that can be rolled out down the line.

TV will take the lion’s share of the budget (the previous campaign debuted during Channel 4’s Gogglebox) but extra spend will go into paid and organic social across Instagram and Facebook. Geographically, spend will be concentrated in areas where there are – or will be – stores. Five new stores are planned for 2020 alone. As a word, Wilson is being leveraged to get the word out about the expansion.

The first ad aired on ITV on the 21 August at 19:45, later following on Sofology’s digital channels. But it is not the first time, it has leaned on Hollywood talent. Between the 2017 and 2019 Wilson campaigns, X-Files’ David Duchovney narrated a work intricately showing how each sofa is crafted.

This campaign shows that Hollywood talent can be sourced to draw attention to regional brands, for example; Robert DeNiro’s starring role in Engine’s Warburton’s creative portrays the lift a brand can get from a big name (and their acting chops).

Vote for the Sofology campaign below in The Drum’s Creative works.

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