The WeTransfer Plus Monsters
For more than a year, visitors to WeTransfer have been coming face to face with our monsters. Designed by our creative director Laszlito Kovacs to promote our premium WeTransfer Plus service, the story of the monsters’ development touches on the challenges of fulfilling a tricky brief, and takes in Godzilla, marshmallows and Adventure Time.
Kata Pinter leads the team that briefed Laszlito on the job. She says the starting point was that the previous campaign felt underwhelming, but she admits it is a challenge to commission engaging visuals which also communicate the key messages.
“It’s a back and forth, pushing and dragging a bit; there is so much stuff that it needs to do. It needs be appealing but not that visually complex – you need to be able to get it in the first second. Like anything, it’s super hard to make something super simple. We have learned so much about what works. It needs to be a painting, but it has all these requirements too.”
Laszlito and his team sat down with these requirement and any relevant data they could get their hands on, but their starting point was very human.
“We came up with the idea that instead of talking about the files – which is something quite impersonal – we would focus on what is inside the files,” he says. “ At the end of the day, that is what will touch people’s lives in one way or another. So you have people working on music, working on architecture, working on Hollywood blockbusters.”
WeTransfer Plus Monsters Work In Progress
In one of the sketch pads he constantly carries with him, Laszlito drew out a few ideas, including one of a filmmaker receiving a file, with a scary green monster coming out of the computer screen. This struck a chord, and from there Laszlito set about creating a family of monsters, toning down the scariness in favour of squishiness.
“I always start with the shapes,” Laszlito says, “and then I think about how to make them huggable, or like you want to eat them. I look at them and think, ‘Oh that one is like a marshmallow, that one is a bit like a cake’.” He laughs. “Does that sound crazy?”
Yeah a bit. “Ok, so the green monster, that one was an egg with legs. Then I had recently seen the latest Godzilla movie, and I thought, ‘What would happen if I took Godzilla and made it edible’?”
A huge fan of Disney and Pixar, and the way their creative teams conjure up characters with a few physical attributes, Laszlito built his family to be simple, friendly and colourful.
One of the biggest hurdles was to create imagery that would only be seen for a few seconds, but which might be seen several times a day by regular WeTransfer users. “They had to be quite immediate, but also give you something if you did want to study them,” he says. “So I added some textures on the skin to make them more interesting. How do you bring a soul to a character that is 2D and might only be seen for ten seconds?”
A work-in-progress sketch
Kata and her team loved this level of care and detail, which they felt reflected the artistic values on which the brand is built. And so in February 2015, the monsters were unleashed on the world. The response was immediate and impressive. Not only did the campaign perform well, people fell in love with Laszlito’s critters.
“We thought people would like them way better than what we had before, but we didn’t expect that people would have so much love for them,” Kata says. “We had one guy who wanted to use them in his book.
“We were not only successful in creating something that was visually appealing, we also created a campaign that performed particularly effectively.”
The monsters have now been through four evolutions, including most recently a set of animated wallpapers that bring them to life in a whole new way. The only downside is that Laszlito, whose desk is surrounded by big screens running WeTransfer, hates seeing his own work.
“I am totally sick of them,” he laughs. But the monsters may have some kind of future. Inspired by Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time (a much-loved, often-referenced series by the WeTransfer design team), Laszlito is interested in turning over his creations to other artists to see how they reinterpret them.
“It’s going to be super fun seeing great creatives taking them on into different styles and scenarios,” he says.