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You Can Almost Taste It: White Castle’s ‘In These Times’

Creative production studio Ataboy and advertising agency Merkley + Partners create fun, fast-paced, collage-inspired animation to promote the hamburger chain’s comfort food lineup; created during the pandemic, all work was produced remotely.

Creative production studio Ataboy joined forces with advertising agency Merkley + Partners to bring to life an animated campaign for fast-food hamburger chain White Castle. Directed by the creative production company’s founder Vikkal Parikh, the campaign, entitled In These Times, visualizes the pure sensory experience of the brand’s comfort food lineup through fast-paced animation juxtaposed with collage-inspired imagery.

The style gives a nod to a technique used for centuries by surrealist artists to create paintings and posters. Featuring the all-new Smoky Joe Slider as well as returning fan-favorites, the narrative steps into realms of the unexpected with dream-like environments and quirky characters. From a bear-headed lumberjack and unfurling tongue carpet to an exceptionally long hand getting cozy with a Sloppy Joe, the compositions all come together to create a charming and fun world accompanied by a friendly, loving voiceover.

Created during the pandemic, the art, design, and animation were carried out remotely.

“Animation was the best and really the only way to fulfill this shared vision,” shared Parikh. “The medium offers a brilliant canvas for imaginative storytelling and we have the virtual pipeline set up to channel this element into advertising from the safety of our own homes. At the end of the day, we all wanted the same thing: to capture that delicious White Castle goodness.”

The work follows the brand’s winter announcement on the launch of their new menu items as well as builds upon the content and themes from the recent Long Live Sliders campaign, which was also developed by Merkley + Partners and White Castle with end tag designs by Ataboy.

“The title of the campaign and the voiceover allude to our current isolation and the fact that we are missing things we love, but the spot shows the viewer that you don’t have to give up everything you love,” explained Ataboy senior producer Rasha Clark. “The teams at Merkley + Partners and White Castle really understood our vision, so the environment was highly collaborative during the entire process. From agency to client, all parties were familiar with our mixed media capabilities and resources as well as talent so there was a refreshing level of trust in our direction. White Castle is such a fun brand that consistently pushes the boundaries of innovative storytelling to connect with their audiences. Our collective goal was to create content that grabs the audience’s attention while captivating curious minds and eyes in a quirky yet highly relatable way.”

Production was by Ataboy Studios using Adobe Premiere, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, and Maxon Cinema 4D. Concept design and art was by Aaron Maurer; editing by Michael Equi; the lead animator was Adam VanDine; additional animation by Ridvan Maloku and Dmitry Morozov; and audio/sound design by Heard City.

Source: Ataboy Studios

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