By Yash Egami Posted on Jun 10, 2015

New York agency SS+K took a simple idea and hit advertising Gold with HBO’s “Awkward Family Moments.” We asked chief creative officer Bobby Hershfield about how it all came together.

How did you arrive at “Awkward Family Moments” from the original brief?
The original brief was to make HBO Go more desirable to college students. They were aware of it as a product, but most were unaware how to get it or what was really offered on it. And when we thought more about it, it felt kind of simple actually. We needed to create a reason for it in order to make it more desirable. Therefore the reason you want HBO Go is so you don't have to watch HBO with your parents. It's such a basic truth and the product rests nicely in that and it becomes a need in conjunction with HBO versus replacing it.

The casting and writing were perfect. Talk about what it took to get to this point.
Well, it was writing script after script. We wrote a bunch and worked with the client to pick the best ones. But once we had the idea we just wrote a bunch to get to a nice place where it felt real, not too over-the-top but had the basic truths down and then exaggerated it for comedic purposes. Just letting HBO be HBO and the awkwardness to play against that.

As for casting, I give our director, David Shane, and casting director Beth Melsky a lot of credit. It is such a pleasure to be so in sync with what kind of actor you're looking for it made it relatively easy to decide on a cast. We knew we wanted people to play it straight. Just be a family and let the dialogue and the situation be the star. So we put this family together more on pure acting ability and knew through their talents they wouldn't overact or play it as a characters but more as a family. Some of the people we have tried to work with before, some David knew and others we just loved in callbacks and felt like they fit nicely into the family dynamic we were creating. Also HBO was wonderfully and refreshingly supportive with our cast. They really trusted David's instincts which made things really easy and therefore led to the cast we got.

There were no effects, no elaborate sets, just a sparse living room setting and dialogue. Was this a tough idea to sell to the client?
Not at all. I'm not suggesting it was a no-brainer or that we really "sold the crap" out of it. It's just that everyone on both sides really appreciated the insight. It wasn't immediately execution as much as the insight was so relatable it drove everything else.



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