Orchard Thieves - Fox It

Four years after launching, having already thieved a sizeable chunk of the cider market, the Orchard Thieves team decided it was time for a new direction. An interagency team that included Rothco, Starcom, MCCP and Thinkhouse, created a new brand positioning: ‘Fox It’. Rothco developed the ‘Fox It’ philosophy – a set of principles designed to encourage curiosity and spontaneity in everyday life.

Thinkhouse was tasked with bringing ‘Fox It’ to life on social media in a bold, creative way. For Orchard Thieves, social is the most effective and efficient media channel, so nailing it is key! The Orchard Thieves brand team gave us relatively free rein, asking for ‘something new and different’.

Our social/digital-led model, born out of youth culture, challenges the traditional agency model; cutting out the fat of external production companies to deliver agile, innovative creative campaigns. Gone are the days of a brand hinging all its hope on ‘one big shoot’ with a production team that never worked frequently and consistently together.

Instead, a tight team of creatives and directors at Thinkhouse casts, writes, storyboards, shoots and edits an ad / series of ads in a truly agile way – without the cumbersome, unnecessary layers and complexities (not to mention egos and budgets) of external production companies. This approach is something both we, and our clients, relish and something we’re fast becoming famous for – challenging convention and instead, working just like young creators do.

Orchard Thieves is a brand that has the balls to stand out and say fox it. For this project, we rolled up our sleeves and got stuck right in to create a suite of 14 short ads, and one hero ad that lives up to the Orchard Thieves attitude.

The Approach

Stories create a sense of community. In a world that feels so divided, it’s nice to feel part of a community – including a community that exists around a favourite brand. Having led Orchard Thieves social media output since its launch in 2015, we’ve overseen the management and growth of its dedicated, passionate online community. We wanted our newest campaign to recognise the unique culture within the Orchard Thieves community. We made the Orchard Thieves community, and the tweets / messages within it, central to the story.

We created a character, nicknamed ‘The Scholar’, who would read out tweets about the brand, and offer our followers some choice advice, encouraging them to say ‘Fox It’ and pursue a bolder way of life. The ‘tweets’ were all inspired by real messages from the Orchard Thieves community – ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. We dramatised the tweets and created fun follower handles to amuse Orchard Thieves fans.

We wanted a ‘name’ to play our scholar, someone with gravitas who could impart his ‘Fox It’ wisdom with the trademark Orchard Thieves edge and wit. We aimed high, inviting actor Ian McElhinney to front the campaign. With recent appearances on hit shows Derry Girls and Game of Thrones, the Northern Irish actor is well known and loved by our target audience. Showing up in an Orchard Thieves ad is not something our fans would expect from Ian – a traditional stage and film actor with a Shakespearean heritage.

A bold move by both Ian and Orchard Thieves.

Fox It – Thinkhouse for Orchard Thieves

The Output

By delivering insights & strategy, advertising, PR, events, social + digital, media buying – all under one roof, our creative, tech and strategic capabilities were brought on board for this project.

Our writers got to work on scripts, while the Film and Design teams created a highly stylised monochrome library-style set for our scholar character. The full creative team in Thinkhouse worked closely with the Orchard Thieves brand team to ensure the project was delivered in the most efficient way possible.

Shot in Kite Studios, the tight crew had just one day to assemble the set and rig the lights and equipment and a second day in which to shoot all 14 short films. The team also collaborated with agency partners Rothco to produce and direct an additional 30-second film featuring our scholar, a piece that further explained the principles of the ‘Fox It’ philosophy.

Julie Wells, Head of Cider and Global Brands, at HEINEKEN Ireland, said: “For us, the approach to the development of this suite of ads was like nothing we’d done before. We placed huge trust in Thinkhouse to develop bold content in a way that challenged our assumptions and broke old marketing habits. I am thrilled with the outcome - a suite of ads that stands out from the crowd with a confidence and cheeky attitude that is true to Orchard Thieves. In working with the team, the whole process was so fun and rewarding - from ideation to the shoot itself and then the post-production process. I believe this series of ads will be really effective in building this powerful brand and I’m excited to see the results of it later this summer.”

The Outcome

The final result is genuinely funny, premium quality content that brings the Orchard Thieves community closer to the brand by making them a part of our Instagram Stories and, more importantly, our ever-evolving brand story. As this edition of FLASH goes to print, the campaign is just going live. Results will be shared on our website over the coming months.