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. 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."