Audible / Blood Weed Show Launch Campaign


Blood Weed /
Show Launch Campaign


Blood Weed is a new streaming comedy series that takes listeners on a twist-filled, THC-fueled journey starring the voices of Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense), Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Hugo Armstrong, Layton English, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Zach Cherry, Gary Richardson, and many others.


In this Audible Original, charismatic young entrepreneur, Chase Stapp (Osment), starts a designer cannabis brand and has high hopes of disrupting the entire industry. But when a powerful criminal organization shows up and makes Chase an offer he can’t refuse, his dream, his company, and his life are all thrown into danger.


Leveraging celebrity talent to be in-camera helps to make the Audible audio space into one we can actually see and feel, even more. We pitched a handful of trailer ideas and landed on two selects for production: Kidnapped and Dispensary. Awesomely, both Yelena and Haley were up for filming!


Building on insights from our Summer in Argyle launch campaign with Audible, we, once again, filmed our celebrity talent live-action trailers and shot photography for key art and cover art.


Blood Weed rolls-up many different cultural touchpoints – stoner culture, office culture, the world of tech startups, and even the Russian mafia. For an effective series launch, we needed to create promotional assets that convey all of these themes, while also not giving away too much of the story. While some of these themes may seem dark, it’s crucial for viewers to know that Blood Weed is a fun comedy adventure.


In the modern streaming landscape, everything starts with key art. It’s often the first point of entry for consumers, which puts a lot of pressure on that one little image to effectively grab their attention and to communicate all of the show’s key themes. For our final key art designs pictured above, we turned stills from our trailer shoot into illustrated versions of Chase (looking slightly panicked) and Maria’s character, Yelena (looking menacing), surrounded by a dark tangle of marijuana leaves. The color palette gives just a bit of that “Bob Marley poster” vibe, and the circuitry texture in the background alludes to the tech theme. In addition, we’ve included several fun Easter eggs nestled amongst the leaves – teasing where things are headed.


Our Kidnapped trailer was the largest undertaking of the campaign. We pitched, wrote, developed, and locked scripts for the :30 and :15 and engaged film director Frank Coraci (The Waterboy, Click, The Ridiculous 6) to direct the live-action. We worked very closely with Frank and the team at Audible to define what the Blood Weed world should look like. Thanks to our partnership with the amazing production team, Hyper FMI, we secured the perfect location to film in DTLA. The warehouse [set] was dressed with no detail overlooked – from the tattered furniture and appointments of Chase’s dank and cold ‘living area’ to the insanely bright lights blasted through the windows, chain link fences, heavy chains, smoke machine, and puddles of water on the floor.


Kidnapped is a rise to success/dot com-inspired interview of Chase, set in a sunlit office space. Gussied up in his favorite, absurdly expensive track suit, cap, and bling, Chase responds to simple questions about the success of his company, but is quickly haunted with funny flashbacks of a visibly-rattled, post-abduction Chase who has been tied up by Yelena in a dank and terrifying warehouse. As Yelena’s sinister plans come into focus, Chase demonstrates his foray into the cannabis industry was not the chill ride he had hoped for.


Also on set was our stills photographer, Justin Stephens, whom we had previously worked with on Audible’s Summer in Argyle. Justin was responsible for shooting key art set-ups and additional marketing material for the series.


Dispensary is a :15 trailer that was designed sans talent, however the spot did require prop building. Our idea was to create a simple walk along the inside of a cannabis dispensary. Along our journey we see funny-named, normal green strains of nugs for sale and we ultimately land on a bin of delicious, red Blood Weed, ‘this bud is killer’ tag and Audible endcard. Our art department and prop master constructed a 3-tier shelving unit to accommodate a simple dolly move to tell our story.


For maximum flexibilty, trailer assets were delivered in square, vertical and HD formats as shown in the :15 Kidnapped cutdowns above. Modern promos appear across a wide variety of platforms and are viewed on many different devices, so it’s important to adapt to all screens with design consistency and brand integrity.


We framed our shots in our shooting boards, and on set via shooting guides, to accommodate for all three formats at the same time.


We’ll return to our trailers in a minute, but first we’d like to pull back the curtain and provide a behind-the-scene’s look at how our final key art came into being. Leading up to the day of the shoot, we locked key art concepts for Justin to photograph on set. The initial look of the key art was to be in-camera, as if the scene was a beautifully staged, artful moment pulled from the Kidnapped trailer. Post-shoot, as creative development continued, Audible began to move toward illustration solutions for their comedy genre. In addition to our photography selects pictured above, Justin shot a trove of amazing moments, poses, and expressions of both talent for good measure.


This opened the floodgates for our artists and friends at Audible to go on a super fun journey of creative exploration.


In true stoner fashion, we really got into this exploration and produced a wide range of options. As noted at the beginning of this case study, Blood Weed covers a lot of ground. It’s a stoner comedy, but it’s also full of useful leadership advice – it’s dark and violent but also completely ridiculous – and our key art needed to communicate all of these themes in a single image. Illustration became the perfect format for this since we can easily play with scale and create an entirely stylized world.


So what style of illustration would be the most effective? To this end, we summoned an absolute dream team short list of incredible illustrators and brilliant thinkers – special thanks to all who worked with us. This opened the door to exploring a vast array of styles an interpreting the details and throughlines of the story in different ways. Inspirations included relevant touchpoints ranging from tech advertising to action movie posters. In addition, we looked at metaphorical inspirations – creative motifs for framing the wild journey ahead of us, including classic comics and 70’s sci-fi book covers. We also explored various degrees of stylization, from photoreal painting, to comic-style drawings, and everything in between.


The work doesn’t end once a design is chosen. In addition to creating editable assets for delivery, we also developed clean versions for platforms that don’t allow overt drug references – changing the marijuana leaves to non-specific palm fronds, and removing the smoke and lit joint. As with our various aspect ratios for the trailer deliverables, this special alt detail invites maximum exposure in marketing the title.


After listening to the full series (which is awesome), we pitched several trailer concepts. As noted, the two that were chosen for production are Kidnapped and Dispensary. Each spot was meticulously planned and boarded to tee up a highly successful shoot in Los Angeles. We worked in lock-step with line producer Anthony Hartman of Hyper FMI. In addition to scouting numerous locations and landing the perfect spot, Ant assembled an incredible crew of dedicated professionals. Director, Frank Coraci, worked with T&F storyboard veteran Fred Fassberger and T&F ECD Scott Matz to painstakingly design each shot, ensuring humor would rise to the top.


While we tend to talk about Blood Weed as a project with two main phases (trailers and key art) the design of the logotype on its own was a significant undertaking. The challenge is clear at this point – to create a single mark that can express all of the varied cultural touchpoints that come together to make the series so unique.


Should the logo feel like an ironic nod to an abduction thriller, or should it play to the humorous aspects of the show? Do we want to go more minimal for a sophisticated edge, or should the logo be more illustrative to echo the style of the key art? What about a more conceptual approach, parodying the visual language of tech startup logos? To answer these questions, we conducted an exhaustive exploration, generating a wide range of logo options. Final vertical and horizontal lockups are pictured below, followed by some of our favorite alternate options.


Special thanks to our friends at Audible for entrusting us to conceive and produce this amazing campaign. Blood Weed marks our ‘first best’ with Audible as ‘second best’ will forever be Summer in Argyle. Additional thanks for the sheer passion and dedication from everyone on our team at Thornberg & Forester. Also, huge congratulations to Blood Weed creators and writers, Dan Abramson and Matt Klinman…it was a pleasure meeting you guys on set.


Client Partner: Audible


VP/Creative Director: Josh Pelzek

Senior Writer/Producer: Josh Fischer

Producers: Stacy Cloutier, Noreen O’Donnell

Senior Designer: Esra Yalcin


Design & Production Agency: Thornberg & Forester


/ Identity Design

Executive Creative Director: Scott Matz

Creative Director: Matt Tragesser

Design: Scott Matz, Matt Tragesser, Michael Cina, Mark Lee, Jinsup Kim


/ Key Art

Executive Creative Director: Scott Matz

Creative Director: Matt Tragesser

Research & Strategy: Matt Tragesser

Design: Duke Aber, Kim Dulaney, Vincent Diga, Matt Tragesser, Austin Watts, Jinsup Kim


/ Pre-Production

Executive Creative Director: Scott Matz

Copywriting: Dan McCoy, Josh Fischer, Steve Cabell

Storyboard Artist: Fred Fassberger (Famous Frames)


/ Production

Executive Creative Director: Scott Matz

Director: Frank Coraci

Line Producer: Anthony Hartman (HyperFMI)

Producers: Shannon Moore, Dino D’Adamo, Kyle Russell

Cinematographer: Logan Schneider

Photographer: Justin Stephens


/ Post-Production

Executive Creative Director: Scott Matz

Creative Director: Matt Tragesser

Producers: Shannon Moore, Dino D’Adamo

Editors: Henry Hayes, Hedia Maron

Animation: Jinsup Kim, Scott Matz

Color: Tristan Kneschke

Sound & Mix: Stuart Welch (Barking Owl)