Stork, another successful mascot
It has been almost five years since the Huggies stork entered my life. The stork arrived at the doors of a studio as a rough idea in a power point presentation. The moment I saw it,I knew it would be a fun project.Though there were many great and funny animated birds, the Huggies stork had to symbolize care and communicate the brand’s message to an audience of moms. Therefore the stork had to look somewhat trustful and smart, without getting too boring.
It was initially planned to use the Huggies stork only once in a single commercial.After we produced the commercial where I served as creative and technical director, the commercial was so well received by audiences that Kimberly Clark decided to further develop our stork and feature it in all marketing activities. I never would have imagined that I would spend five more years working on Huggies projects!
The mascot’s creation process started with reference studies of a real stork. Here is what I got from the internet.
The birds are beautiful and elegant, but they lack expressiveness and individuality. So I looked for more references from various cartoons.
Well, they are all great. But considering the fact that our stork originates from the commercial world, I wanted it to look lustrous.
After some trial and error, we came up with the first version of the stork.
The stork looked simple and expressive. It had a basic set of facial expressions and… it was bold! The client wanted the stork to look “cartoony” without such details as feather and fur. I felt that this was not enough, as I wanted the character to look more complex. Unfortunately, there was no more time for fur and feather development, and the client seemed to like what we’d already done. I didn’t give up on the idea of adding more complexity to the character. I suggested featuring a more complex stork on the static images that would be used on prints, banners, cutouts, magazines etc. The client gave us a try.
Several years before the Huggies project, I wrote an MEL script that attached polygonal feathers to the surface. The script could run feather simulations with gravity, wind and turbulence forces.
While polygonal feathers would look more accurate, I was afraid that this approach wouldn’t work with the stork. I wanted the feathers to look soft and organic, nicely flowing along the stork’s skin. That look could have been achieved with fur. Yes, a furry bird may sound weird, as all birds have feathers, but it can actually work. I’ve done numerous furry creatures for film VFX, and therefore I was in my comfort zone.
Here is the stork covered with fur. I believe he looks much better now.
The client appreciated the new look and decided to go with the furry stork.
Over the course of five years we’ve been tweaking and finessing the mascot. In 2015 the stork looks like this
Here is a character evolution chart from 2010 until now.