Strangers in Paradise: SOCIETY Unveils ‘Visit Seattle’

What happens when you entice eight strangers to experience an off-the-cuff journey in the Emerald City? Therein lies the concept behind a new campaign for Seattle that documents the adventures of several first-time visitors to the Great Northwestern city.


Brainchild of Visit Seattle and its ad agency, Publicis, the new media campaign comes courtesy of Los Angeles-based production company, SOCIETY, and Seattle-based Director J. Austin Wilson. Wilson, who collaborated on the project with BUTCHER Editor Nick Pezzillo, corralled a diverse gang of Seattle “Newbies” from as far away as Brooklyn, South Africa, and Oklahoma City to experience the Seattle that is, in his words, “more than the Space Needle and flying fish at the Market.”

The new “Visit Seattle” campaign’s foundation lies in multiple web series’, which will be complemented by dramatic still photography as well as outdoor advertising. This debut series “Seattle First Takes” is aimed at potential visitors from other large markets seeking an outside-the-box Seattle experience. “The emphasis is on sensory experiences and memorable moments,” says Wilson, “These are stories you tell when you go home to wherever you’re from. You don’t catalog everything you did – you focus on special moments and tell those stories in detail.”

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To bring the campaign to life, the SOCIETY team created evocative scenarios, dropped their new visitors into them, filmed the results, then de-briefed them in long on-camera conversations. The diverse group of first-timers, who helped shine a light on some of the lesser-known, homegrown Seattle destinations, include a Los Angeles native who paddleboards among houseboats on Lake Union, an Atlanta artist painting sunrise over Gasworks Park, a South African violinist staging an impromptu solo performance at Golden Gardens, and a 78-year-old taking his first seaplane ride.

The experiences, in essence, reflect the ideal Seattle-based activities favored by director Wilson.  “When my family comes to town, when my best friends come to town, these are the things that I take them to see and do,” he says.

Along with Wilson’s artistic filmmaking vision, SOCIETY employed the talents of one of its other Directors, Christian Sorensen Hansen, to shoot still photographs throughout the entire week-long production, offering Publicis and Visit Seattle a variety of platforms and venues for campaign exposure, with target markets outside of Seattle being metropolises such as Chicago, San Diego, Boston, and Philadelphia.

Regarding what the SOCIETY team dubs the “unique focus group” experience and ultimate bonding session, Wilson recalls, “I was nervous about bringing eight strangers together for this kind of ‘group hug’ experience but the week we all spent together was really meaningful. It’s something of a new genre, casting ‘real people’ who responded to our offer of an expenses-paid week in Seattle.”




Client: Visit Seattle
Agency: Publicis
Production Company: SOCIETY
Director: J. Austin Wilson
Executive Producer: Harry Calbom
Head of Production: Rebecca Parenteau
Line Producer: Jill McBride
Production Supervisor: Vi Pham
Assistant Production Supervisor: Sena Krug
2nd Assistant Production Supervisor: LaKell Havens
Assistant Director: Damian Payne
Director of Photography: Justin Henning
Assistant Camera: Joel Phillips
Art Director: Jason Puccinelli
Prop Master: David Bowen
Stylist: Collette Shields
Gaffer: Ryan Middleton
Key Grip/Rigging: Collen Newberry
Sound: Steven Bechtold
Editorial Company: BUTCHER
Editor: Nick Pezzillo
Executive Producer: Rob Van…
Assistant Editor: Kelly Henson
Post Producer: Alexa Atkin
Colorist: Steven Williams
Flame Artist: Steven Williams


SOCIETY is a live-action media production company located in Los Angeles, California, specializing in branded content, music videos, independent film and broadcast advertising.