Hamburgers are so famously American, it’s easy to overlook the whole “Hamburg” aspect.
But as U.K.-based microwavable burger brand Rustlers prepared to expand into the German market, agency Droga5 London decided now is the time to play up the hamburger’s historic connection to Deutschland.
While most marketers taking this approach might have just settled for some quick and clever ads that play up the burger’s Hamburg-centric origin story, Droga5 decided to go all in and make a feature-length film. In German. Which none of the creatives actually speaks.
The result is “The Seas Between Us,” a head-scratchingly odd art film that clocks in at about 70 minutes. Somewhat meta (and unquestionably self-indulgent), the movie shows a documentary crew trying to interview a personification of the hamburger, only to be interrupted by his embittered son, the microwavable hamburger.
Considering it’s branded content, the movie is surprisingly hard to actually watch. “The Seas Between Us”made its debut at Berlin arthouse cinema Babylon Kino and is now available only on Amazon Prime Video—but not for U.S. audiences.
But you can check out two videos about the film below:
“The challenge was to make hamburgers, which are seen as a very American cuisine over in Germany, relevant to that particular market,” says David Kolbusz, chief creative officer of Droga5 London. “We wanted to introduce the product as a snack rather than a meal—commensurate with the way sausages are consumed. Initially we had an attack campaign around sausages planned but felt like we didn’t want to ignite any German rage or mess with national pride. So instead we decided to expose the truth about hamburgers and give them another cuisine to feel prideful about.”
While the movie is clearly a fictional story of a human hamburger, his microwavable son, and the toll that fame and absentee parenting took on their relationship, its overall story is mostly real. Many debate the true origin of the hamburger, but this film focuses on Otto Kause, a Hamburg restaurateur who reportedly decided to put a hamburger steak on a bun so it could be eaten without utensils. (He also capped it with some egg, which some of us still prefer as the topping of choice.)
According to this Hamburg-centric version of events, sailors from Germany took the hamburger idea with them around the world, including when they settled in America.
The screenplay was written by Frazer Price and Teddy Souter in English, then adapted into German by screenwriter Jan Eichberg. The movie was filmed in Cologne.
The jazz score for The Seas Between Us” was composed specifically for the film and is available for streaming on Spotify.
Over the course of the campaign’s development, it expanded from being a German-specific campaign and will now be targeted at Rustlers brand’s core U.K. audience as well.
“Well it began as a campaign exclusively for Germany—cinema and social—but by the time we finished the film, it was the 150th year anniversary of the hamburger, so it seemed like an obvious progression to use it in U.K. channels too,” Kolbusz says. “It’ll be promoted socially, but the traffic is mostly driving to Amazon’s Prime Video service, where you can screen it for free along with the retailer’s monthly fee.”
(If you’re wondering what microwavable hamburgers and Amazon Prime Video have in common, you probably don’t need to look much farther than Droga5 London, the agency for both.)
This isn’t the agency’s first unexpected piece of work for Rustlers. Droga5 London also captured a lifetime of pain and suffering to highlight how microwavable burgers finally signal the best time to be alive: