Gédéon’s branding package for France Télévisions’ kids’ channel, Okoo, scored three golds and two silvers at this year’s Promax Europe Awards, handed out in September, with its simple but dynamic 2D animated approach and bright color palette. Those five wins accumulated enough points for the Paris-based agency to win the coveted title of Promax Europe Agency of the Year.
Part of the fun of the Okoo campaign comes from its flexibility and constant motion, with the two Os in Okoo turning into googly eyes and constantly bouncing and changing from one character to the next. The eyes can be part of the logo, the eyes of a creature or just eyes on their own. And they can appear in a logo, in a sticker, or against a live-action wall. The result is that kids aged three to 12 (or three to 53) stay engaged with what’s happening on the screen, no matter what size it is.
“The two letter Os, like eyes, offered us the perfect creative playground to form the basis of our graphic system,” said Emmanuelle Lacaze, president of Gédéon, in an email interview.
Gédéon likes to pick out one specific graphic element and then build an entire package around that, as both the Okoo package as well as several of the campaigns showcased below reveal.
“I would not necessarily use the word ‘animation’ but rather ‘branding in motion’ to define Gédéon’s specialty,” said Lacaze. “Gédéon is an agency that focuses on branding strategy by creating visual grammars, communication tools and agency campaigns. Nowadays brands communicate on multiple screens … so a motion-based approach is essential.”
Gédéon has a long-running relationship with the French public broadcaster and has also assisted it with an overall rebranding of all its channels, most of which had not been updated since 1998. Okoo, however, is a new channel, so while Gédéon was given a logo to work with, it had a lot of room to play.
“With Okoo, France Télévisions’ aim was to create an alternative to the American giants such as Youtube, Netflix, or Disney+ by offering a service that is educational (don’t forget france.tv is a public service), truly French (we all know local content is the key to success), and of course fun—we’re dealing with children after all!”
Gédéon had about six months to complete the project after having won the pitch in the summer of 2019, and launching at the beginning of December 2019.
“It was a super tight schedule but we love that kind of challenge,” Lacaze said. “In a short space of time, we managed to put together a strong team of specialists in communication and advertising, editors, graphic designers, motion designers, directors, producers, UX and UI designers, etc., in order to produce all the elements for print, digital and videos on time.”
The project created challenges for Gédéon because the package had to be attractive to both three-year-olds and 12-year olds.
“Creating something so that if a boy of 12 saw his sister of three watching Okoo, he wouldn’t think that it’s a brand for babies … was a big challenge, and something we had to bear in mind throughout the entire design process,” said Lacaze.
Gédéon decided to stick with a 2D animated approach because Okoo’s logo already was in 2D “and we wanted to keep this spirit,” said Lacaze. “We also think that using 2D as we did is the perfect expression for both digital devices and this target audience: kids. The 2D allows for good quality both in terms of artistic direction but also of motion design without having the money and time constraints that come with working in 3D.”
“At the end of the day, we are convinced that, in terms of artistic direction, 2D is more adapted to public service television. We also wanted Okoo to distinguish itself from, for example, the world of Disney.”
Accompanying that fun 2D animation is a very bright and bold color palette that’s sure to grab anyone’s attention, as well as a cast of fun animated characters that include hippos, crabs, parrots, an octopus and more.
“The color palette is very varied in order to show the richness of Okoo’s expression. This variety also allows for a differentiation between the worlds of kids and preschoolers,” Lacaze said.
Finally, the music sounds like the synthesizer track from a vintage video game and that’s just the way Gédéon wanted it.
“When a child listens to this music, they find it extremely modern and it makes their parents think back to their youth, particularly those who grow up between the 80s and the 2000s. We wanted the music to affect both children and their parents because ultimately it is the parents who decide whether or not to let their child watch Okoo.”
Okoo Social Media Demo
While the work for Okoo paved the way for Gedeon at the 2020 Promax Europe Awards, the agency also completed many other projects last year, many of which were award-winning in their own right.
“In 2019, we redesigned and won a lot of awards in several competitions for W9, RMC Story, VTM Nieuws, Histoire TV, BFM TV and OCS (idents). We were also finalists for these projects at Promax.”
RMC Brand Story
While Gédéon is thrilled at being named Promax Europe’s Agency of the Year, it’s not resting on its laurels. The agency has lots more work in the pipeline for 2020 and 2021, said Lacaze.
“In 2020, we are still in the process of developing seasonal elements for Okoo and we also redesigned the four channels of VTM and created and produced a whole new identity for M6, the second biggest private channel in France,” she said.
Okoo September Idents
“We also have just won a huge international pitch amidst strong competition from the best agencies in Europe, and we are working on rebranding projects and advertising campaigns for brands outside of the media world,” Lacaze said.
With all that work in the pipeline, expect Gédéon to make a strong return to the Promax Europe Awards competition in 2021.