Creative production company Where the Buffalo Roam (WTBR) produced a hilarious new spot for Webflow, a no-code platform for web design and development. Directed by Brian L. Perkins, “If Life Were Like Web Design” (:60) imagines what life would be like if it were web design. Whether it’s pouring a cup of coffee, making a bowl of cereal, or opening a door, the simplest tasks become absurdly complicated or downright impossible as things inexplicably break and disappear.
“It’s a spot for designers, but anyone who’s ever tried to make a website or use subpar software will get it,” says Perkins. “Bad software won’t let you do even the simplest things. It breaks your mind. If the real world operated like that you’d go crazy. So, the message is, you don’t have to live like this. Webflow removes the senseless obstacles, so smart people can make awesome things.”
Perkins embarked on the project in the scripting phase, with Webflow providing a list of pain points its software resolves for designers. Knowing the brand’s soft-spot for comedy, he landed on a schtick wherein all of the familiar frustrations of web design would be reimagined as happenings in the analog world. Leaning into his own penchant for dry humor and physical comedy, Perkins framed the absurdity of each scenario with an adroit sense of timing and attention to detail.
With limited character dialogue, Perkins cast the spot with an ensemble of actors who could tell the story through body language and facial expressions in the funniest manner possible.
“We weren’t going for full-on slapstick, but dialing in a restrained level of physicality in the performances was the key to making each moment so awkward and so relatable that you can’t help but laugh,” explains Perkins. “We had a lot of fun on set with the cast and crew, as we kept trying to dial-in the perfect dry reactions to an office that is no longer obeying the rules of physics and common sense.”
Extending the gag to the production design, Perkins shot the dysfunctional office setting with a monotone color scheme and wardrobes to match. The look is suggestive of a hip minimalist design space while also setting up the payoff in the final scene when Webflow comes to the rescue, transforming the drab space into a vibrant and happy one.
The spot also peppers in some VFX trickery, practical effects, and sound effects reminiscent of computer errors. In one instance, paintings disappear and become broken jpeg icons. For another design fail, they rendered pouring coffee in photorealistic CG, which mysteriously goes everywhere but the cup. The team also leveraged VFX to “repaint” the office in the colorful final scene.
Perkins used opera music for the pre-Webflow office scenes to underscore the old-school stuffiness of outdated software, as well as to play against the visuals of the office going haywire. Once Webflow is introduced, the music shifts to a breezy ‘50s orchestral piece. The retro sounds complement the more colorful and functional office while calling to mind the optimistic futurism of the rocket age.
“Webflow was a dream client who brought great ideas and feedback that only elevated the concept — and that’s because they have a clear vision of who they are as a brand and who their audience is,” concludes Perkins. “They ask all the right questions with a true appreciation for humor and storytelling. We had a blast working with them.”
VP Marketing: Ashley Brucker-Stepien
Director of Content & Communications: Mischa Vaughn
Director of Growth Marketing: Tim Dalrymple
Director of Design: David Hoang
Design Manager: Ryan Miyoshi
Production Company: WTBR/Oakland, CA
Director/Writer: Brian L. Perkins
Executive Producer: Tim Pries
Producer: Emma Jubinski
Designer: Tuesday McGowan
Animator: Jake Pryor
Post Producer: Mike Schultz
Where shot: Half Moon Bay, CA
Post Production + Editorial Company: WTBR
Editor: Jonathan Flookes
VFX Company: WTBR
VFX Supervisor/Flame Artist: Simon Mowbray
Sound Designer & Mixer: Blake Aaron Henderson