ARSONAL’s Spellbinding Campaigns

GraphisJune 4, 2024

In entertainment advertising, standing out is no small feat. Enter ARSONAL, the award-winning agency known for transforming complex narratives into spellbinding visuals. Their latest achievements include campaigns for Focus Features' "Inside" (above, left) and AMC's "Mayfair Witches S1" (above, right). For Focus Features' "Inside," they captured the essence of isolation and survival through striking key art that mirrors the film's intense themes. Meanwhile, their campaign for AMC's "Mayfair Witches S1" conveys the tension and supernatural allure of Rowan's journey. See how ARSONAL turns storytelling into visual gold.

By: Joshua Goldstein, Producer, ARSONAL


As creators of entertainment advertising, one of the most significant challenges in developing key art is capturing the essence of a film in a single still image and telling enough of the film's story to entice people to come and watch without giving away too much. And, as was the case with Inside, finding elements or storylines in the film that can be incorporated into the art in a way that viewers understand only AFTER experiencing it. 

Inside provided a captivating premise in which art was a vital part of the narrative, almost acting as a character in the film. This allowed us to deeply explore outside of traditional key art and find ways to play off of the unique point of view of the story and art styles showcased within the film. 

Inside tells the story of a high-end art thief, Nemo (Willem Dafoe), who becomes trapped in a luxury, high-tech penthouse in New York's Times Square after his art heist does not go as planned. While this story is about escape and survival, the client wanted the art to focus more on the film's heart, which taps into much more prominent themes of isolation, art vs. commerce, and relative worth. 

For our main key art, we wanted to capture the film's tension, isolation, and claustrophobia to reflect Nemo's spiral of desperation as he tries to escape from what began as an art lover's heaven but quickly turns into a living hell. As we follow his trauma, we start to question: is this some sort of forced performance piece? And is Nemo himself the art? So, we also wanted the art to reflect this question living amid the film's underlying themes.

Our supplemental pieces explored the context of the art itself. Most of the art seen in the film is from actual private collections, and there are subtle references to the events of the character in all the paintings throughout the film. While we could use the actual art pieces from the movie in the key art, we decided instead to create entirely new pieces of art in the styles from the film as portraits of the main character's descent into madness.

There were three additional teaser pieces for this campaign that featured key elements from the show in complete isolation on a white background, similar to the lead character's isolation throughout the film: a ceramic molding orange that taunts our starving character throughout the film, a pigeon that later dies outside the window, and an open can of fancy dog food that becomes an unlikely cherished meal. Featuring these elements in this manner told a small enough piece of the story to pique curiosity while simultaneously featuring them as unique art pieces, reflective of the prominence of art in the themes and visuals of the film itself. 

The art was so well received by the client that we ended up finishing six different pieces, three of which are showcased here. The art also won several awards from Graphis and Communication Arts. It was lauded on our client's social platforms, with long lists of comments praising the art, and, for ARSONAL, it was our highest-liked post on Instagram ever.

Mayfair Witches S1

Working in entertainment advertising, we have the honor of introducing many shows and films to the world for the first time. We work together with networks to create the first impression in the hopes it will capture new audiences and excite fans of the series or genre. In this process, the art is always different, but the challenge remains the same: how can we capture the essence of a show or movie in a single image? How can we tell enough of the show's story to entice people to come and watch without giving too much away? 

For "Mayfair Witches S1," we had an excellent jumping off point. Having worked extensively with AMC on several of their past shows in the Anne Rice Immortal Universe franchise—including two seasons of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, which exists in the same universe as the Mayfairs—we've built up a relationship with them that allows for a level of in-depth analysis and thoughtful exploration that isn't always available. AMC is passionate about the shows they work on, and that passion is infectious. So, together, we dove deeper into the Immortal Universe, eager to take in the story and find elements and tone that would adequately represent the characters and their journey.

Mayfair Witches follows Rowan (Alexandra Daddario) as she discovers her terrifying supernatural abilities and secret lineage. Determined to learn the truth about her past and her family, she moves to New Orleans in search of the Mayfairs, a centuries-old family of witches. But the journey does not end with her reuniting with her family. Now, she must grapple with her newfound power while at the same time resisting the sinister presence that has haunted her family for hundreds of years. Her past has been turned on its head, and she must now choose a path to take: continue on the deadly, terrifying path the Mayfair family has led for centuries, or channel her powers to use them for good? She is pulled in many directions by the people and beings around her, but in the end, it's up to her to decide.

For the key art, we wanted to focus on Rowan's empowerment as well as her inner battle of good vs. evil. Through Alexandria Daddario's performance, we can see the strength within her as she strides towards the camera. Despite the power in her pose, the tensity in her expression betrays her slight uncertainty and need for growth. Black smoke drifts around her, signifying the darkness within her. It's unclear what the source of the smoke is or who is in control of it. It flows around her, threatening to consume her as it floats into the sky, but will she let it? Crows are a recurring motif/theme in the show, and using them in this manner, flying around and away from her, symbolizes an imminent symbol of death and destruction, but who's?

As part of this campaign, we also created a motion piece that brought the movement you can sense in the key art into reality. The art was used in DOOH executions across LA and NYC.

ARSONAL is more than just an agency; we’re a passionate team committed to excellence. We believe our culture, built on collaboration and valuing every voice, plays a pivotal role in our success. We continually inspire one another to outthink and outwork the competition. This drive pushes us to redefine the boundaries of advertising and design, crafting emotionally resonant and provocative creative that sets new standards in the marketplace. Our innovative approach at ARSONAL enables us to offer unparalleled levels of service and creativity to our clients.

Social: Instagram, X, Facebook, LinkedIn

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