Can’t Speak the Language? Babbel Wants to Help You Feel Like You’re Not From Another Planet

W+K London captures the anxiety of being 'an alien abroad'

When you're locked out of your hotel room, not knowing the local language can truly make things difficult. - Credit by Babbel
Headshot of David Griner

There are few experiences more isolating than being in a place where you can’t speak or read the language. It’s a common scenario that could happen to literally anyone, yet it still intimidates many out of exploring the world or pursuing work opportunities in a new country.

Language learning app Babbel captures that universal feeling of alienation by portraying a literal alien in a 2-minute ad from Wieden + Kennedy London. We follow the unfortunate soul’s attempts at navigating daily life without the benefit of a shared language.

Asking directions, getting help from the hotel front desk and even ordering a doughnut prove to be nearly impossible for our alien visitor—until, of course, he discovers Babbel.

The spot is part of a global campaign that’s been localized for some specific markets. The version above is for Australia, while another cut features locals with British accents.

While it’s a bit risky, especially amid the current international tension around immigration and refugees, to lean into the word “alien” and portray the protagonist with the looks of an H.R. Giger-esque xenomorph, the spot pulls off the relatable metaphor through a mix of charming copy and commendable body language.


Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative Director: Hollie Walker & Kit Dayaram
Creatives: Adam Newby, Will Wells, Tom Hall
Executive Creative Directors: Tony Davidson and Iain Tait
Account Director: Sophy Woltman
Account Manager: Sam Hunton
Planning Director: Andy Wright
Planner: Rachel Hamburger
TV Producer: Richard Adkins

Production Company: O Positive
Director: David Shane
Executive Producer: Nell Jordan and Ralph Laucella
Line Producer: Nell Jordan
Director of Photography: Tim Maurice-Jones
Editorial Company: The Quarry
Editor: Paul Watts
VFX Company: Time Based Arts
VFX Supervisor: Luke Todd
VFX Producer: Chris Aliano
Music Company: Mr Pape
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designer: Jack Sedgwick and Aaron Reynolds
Sound Producer: Ben Tomlin
International Versioning: Jam Worldwide

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."