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By Amy Houston, Senior Reporter

March 17, 2023 | 6 min read

The unlikely romance between a spider and a phone camera won numerous awards, landing it a coveted spot on The Drum’s World Creative Rankings. We find out from Leo Burnett Frankfurt’s ECD how this captivated creepy-crawly came to be.

Sam, the small terrarium spider with a big heart, had people on the edge of their seats as they watched him hopelessly fall for a Samsung phone. From the moment she first set her many eyes on the device on a poster outside her window, the arachnid struggled to get the Galaxy S model out of her head. Day in and out, she stared at her more from across the street, navigating the ups and downs of her feelings.

It’s a one-of-a-kind romantic tale and the work of ad agency Leo Burnett Frankfurt. “Samsung approached us with a brief about the launch, which was: ’we want to have something that breaks from the cluster of things we usually do and brings awareness to the new device,’” recalls executive creative director Benjamin Merkel.

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Knowing that when customers talk about phone models they usually comment on the capabilities of the camera, that feature became the center point of the campaign early on. “That was quite an unusual brief. We were told to focus on the lenses and how they were structured and built.”

From there, Merkel’s team began writing up various treatments. “There was one story, which was only two or three sentences long, about a spider who looks out of her window and falls in love with a billboard. It was a simple match. The lenses and the eyes of a spider were like an analogy everyone could understand.”

Initially, the treatment was going to be used for the previous model, but due to production times, it was decided it would be used for the 2022 release – which had the agency on its toes. Would the next phone still have the recognizable lenses or would the joke be totally lost?

Sam the Spider 01

“We were praying,” he jokes. “We were looking at rumors about the phone on the internet.”

Luckily, the upgraded phone’s external camera lenses looked similar and they were able to continue with the original idea.

To bring the project to life, the agency enlisted the help of directors Dorian & Daniel. “They suggested we build a room in an apartment, shoot in real life and then animate afterward. That was quite a strange shoot because we set up the apartment in a Berlin studio and we were shooting without a main actor because the spider wasn’t there. We used puppets that we put in the scenes but it was an empty terrarium.”

Sam the Spider 02

After getting some edits back, building Sam was the next priority and quite a lengthy process. “It took months. We had weekly meetings between us as the agency the client, the director and production. We discussed progress and the creation of the character.”

Finding the perfect look for the spider was key – it couldn’t be too scary or comic, it had to be somewhere in between. “There was a fine line. There were little details that create emotions, the little tear in the eye or having sensors that go down when the billboard was removed. They made a big difference.”

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Aside from the aesthetic of the ad campaign, how it sounded was also crucial. “We wanted to have a love song, but there are millions of cool ones.” The team ended up choosing the aptly titled 70s classic Love Hurts by Scottish rockers Nazareth, which proved perfect for the ad. “It generated a certain feeling. It was our first choice and nobody wanted any other music.”

Sam the Spider 03

Five or six months later, the project was completed on the night before Valentine’s Day. That was intentional, the creatives had already convinced Samsung that it needed to own that category.

“We managed to turn a feature communication into a brand communication,” says Merkel, noting that the end result is somewhere in between. “It was the simplicity of turning it into a love story – it’s the easy-to-digest commercial where everyone laughs at the joke about the spider and her crush.”

Interested in creative campaigns? Check out our Ad of the Day and the Best Ads of the Week sections.

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