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T+Co Creates Show Open for ‘Last Week Tonight’

Strategic design agency Trollbäck + Company creates the show open for new HBO comedy series, ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.’

New York -- Strategic design agency Trollbäck + Company (T+Co) has created the show open and graphics package for the new HBO comedy series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Presenting a satirical look at the week in news, politics and current events, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver debuted on HBO on April 28th and is presented every Sunday night at 11:00 pm, ET / PT.

Led by Creative Director Kelli Miller, T+Co created a show open and graphics package that encapsulates the balance of humor and wit behind John Oliver's brand of news parody.

As the only weekly news-oriented comedy series presented on Sunday nights, each edition of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver features a mix of topical commentary, pre-taped pieces, and often an interview. T+Co's visual language needed to convey the show's tone and format while differentiating the brand from other series.

"All involved in the show -- HBO, the showrunners and John Oliver -- stressed that they were not looking for a parody of news, but rather something that expressed their unique perspective on the genre that they could own," remarks Miller. "We explored ways to trope and highlight familiar topics that make up the news and media. Metaphors such as our 'curiosity cabinet,' which is filled with iconic topical objects, were the perfect solution.

"The open needed to be subtly funny and smart because John Oliver is a very understated and clever comedian," adds Miller. "It was important that the overall show packaging convey the heightened sophistication and production value of the program, which is instantly elevated by its once-a-week airing, not to mention the HBO pedigree."

T+Co achieved their concept through dry, tongue-in-check iconography and faux Latin labels. Miller explains the modularity of the concept made it even more appealing: "It’s easy to imagine swapping out new topical objects as the show progresses. This dense visual language keeps the open fresh. In fact, you're not likely to ingest all that is happening in one viewing, so our hope is that audiences discover new objects each week."

Developing a cohesive visual language for the open required striking a good balance of topical current events and pop culture items in T+Co's "catalogue of curiosities."

They were conscious of touching on hot-button issues like gun control, LGBT rights and world politics while balancing it with pop culture topics like Silicon Valley, obesity and Hollywood; moreover, it was important to stay away from topics that might disappear from the media too quickly.

"Going into this project, we were already huge fans of the news parody genre," concludes Miller. "As both a comedy and an HBO fanatic, this was a dream project. Collaboratively, they were supportive and encouraging of our vision. We were all on the same page conceptually from the start, which made the project a breeze. And getting to meet and direct John -- and talking Game of Thrones -- was both great and surreal. Looking back, it feels like I'm reciting a crazy dream when I say I was directing a shoot with John Oliver and telling him about how the Khaleesi [from Game of Thrones] hatched her dragon eggs!"  

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.