Oregon's big draw? A gorgeous animated tourism ad that channels the style of Hayao Miyazaki

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Mar 13, 2018

In case you didn't know, Oregon is a state in America's Pacific Northwest. It became the 33rd state in 1859, is one of only three contiguous U.S. states to have a coastline along the Pacific Ocean, and its largest city, Portland, is the central hub for every hipster in existence. Adding to its cache of unique aspects, the state now has a beautifully animated tourism ad that evokes the elegant style of famed Japanese animator-filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.

The founder of Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki was responsible for a handful of anime classics such as My Neighbor TotoroKiki's Delivery ServicePrincess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Ponyo. If you've seen any of these movies, at least one memorable image will spring to mind: maybe a Catbus with lamplike eyes, or a many-armed machinist, or ocean waves in the shape of giant fish. 

Needless to say that if you're gonna emulate Miyazaki, you have to exaggerate things a bit and indeed, the ad from Travel Oregon is titled "Only Slightly Exaggerated." It most certainly is, brimming with big rabbits, serene fishing spots, newspaper-reading frogs, a bearded cloud man, and whales swimming among the cumulonimbus. "Slightly" might be stretching things a bit, but the commercial is absolutely gorgeous and definitely makes us want to pack our bags and catch the next flight to Portland International Airport.

According to Travel Oregon's director of global communications, Linea Gagliano, the Miyazaki influence was not accidental, and that harkening back to his work just felt right to them. "It definitely did come from inspiration from anime experts like Miyazaki and Disney as well," she told SYFY WIRE over the phone. "We really felt like the Japanese anime style captured what we were going for and just felt more whimsical, fanciful, and felt like something that evoked the feeling of being in Oregon. Photos, while incredibly stunning and beautiful, don't capture the feeling of being in Oregon... That's part of the reason that we went with animation... We definitely wanted it to be original, but wanted to evoke that same feeling we all had when we watched those anime films."

Even so, Travel Oregon wanted the landscapes to be as accurate as possible despite all the fantasy imagery. "While we do have a caterpillar on a mountain bike and huge bunnies going through the tulip fields, the tulip fields are real, the giant bunnies are subject to availability," Gagliano said with a laugh while commenting on the "Slightly Exaggerated" tagline. 

All told, the entire thing was a collaboration between Travel Oregon, ad agency Wieden+Kennedy, creative houses PSYOP and Sun Creature Studio, and the Oregon Symphony. Making the ad took a surprisingly short amount of time, at just 19 weeks. Watch it below!

And if you happen to be feeling a comforting sense of calm while watching this, well that, too, was another intention of this campaign. 

"We wanted to make sure that Oregon was being [advertised] as [the] welcoming place that it is and we also wanted to help people get relief through travel," said Gagliano. "It seems like modern life is taking a bit of a toll on people. We wanted to create a campaign that invited people to come find their happiness in Oregon."

Head to the gallery below for a look at some of the images from the ad, as well as some side-by-side comparisons of the places they depict. There is also a picture of the Oregon Symphony performing the music for the project.