In March, the entire creative team at Spectrum Science was challenged to imagine a movie poster for the agency that showcased their omnichannel—and omnigenre—capabilities. From romantic comedies to action to anime, every avenue was explored. The unexpected favorite? Horror.
“Science fiction would’ve been the predictable genre for us to choose, since Spectrumites brand ourselves as delivering an out-of-this-world experience,” Amanda Cowherd, Senior Copywriter, said. “But when shown all of the poster options, leadership made a bold choice to subvert expectations and put our boundary-pushing thinking on display.”
Of course, this terrifying tale had to start somewhere. In this case, from the mind of new employee Benjamin Bassak, Senior Presentation Designer. After recalling two posters at his local video store that scarred him as a child, Bassak decided to pursue psychological horror and horror-adjacent thrillers as his theme. He looked to the aesthetic of John Carpenter, famed director of The Thing and Halloween, for inspiration.
“While doing research, I started to notice two major tropes in horror movie posters—a stark, central image that grabs your attention and an off-kilter or skewed title font to throw you off balance,” Bassak said. “I started with those elements, gave it a medical theme to fit, and went from there.”
Utilizing Spectrum’s signature teal and black palette, Bassak designed a poster starring an unknown villain in medical garb holding a menacing scalpel—the blade of choice for any self-respecting doctor of death. The movie title, Come Hell or High Science, is a repurposed Spectrum slogan that speaks to the agency’s 100% dedication to science and health. Leaving no detail untouched by horror, the copy team also infused unique language into the poster’s credits, even rating the movie “S” for Scientific Storytelling.
“We strove to personalize every inch of the poster, adding names from our leadership team as the stars and crediting Pink Floyd for ‘Original Score’—a shoutout to our founder’s inspiration, the seminal album Dark Side of the Moon,” Cowherd said.
The next step was to translate this heart-stopping poster into a thrilling trailer. Cowherd turned to horror movies like Scream and shows like American Horror Story to make this nightmare come true.
“I positioned Spectrum as a cult driven to the edge by our obsession with healthcare. We spun everyday tasks, such as examining insights from target patient audiences, into heightened, creepy metaphors, like slicing open audiences to put an end to their suffering,” Cowherd said.
Both recent hires, Cowherd and Bassak interfaced directly with Spectrum senior leadership, including Chief Creative Officer Justin Rubin, President Michelle Gross and CEO Jonathan Wilson, on the movie poster and trailer projects.
“What I appreciate most about the whole process is how senior leadership gave us free rein. At some agencies, this would have turned into a design-by-committee, which I think can dull the final product. Spectrum saw the value in the creative approach and let us run with it,” Bassak said.
Their trust paid off, with the strategy behind the poster and the execution of the trailer unanimously applauded throughout the agency—although some employees watched the trailer with covered eyes. The next step may be to actually make this movie and terrify audiences nationwide. Someone call Jordan Peele.
This article originally appeared in MM+M.