The Battle of Short Films: Signs vs. Paperman

Have you seen Paperman?

Paperman is a black-and-white animated short film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and directed

by John Kahrs. The film’s characteristic is the combination of traditional and computer animation. Paperman premiered in June 2012 and has received a nomination for Best Animated Short Film at the 85th Academy Awards.

Paperman was released online (on YouTube) on January 29, 2013. If you haven’t seen it, just do it, because it’s great.

I have another question for you: have you seen Signs? Not M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs with Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix from 2002, but Patrick Hughes’ short movie from 2007.

Here it is.

Both movies have similar premise: boy meets girl, boy (somewhat) loses girl and finally boy gets the girl. You could also speculate whether Paperman is a remake of Signs.

The interesting aspect of Signs is its client: the film was produced as part of the Schweppes Short Film festival. Festival was created by New Zealand agency Publicis Mojo for Schweppes in 2007. All films were part of a new campaign designed to reposition Schweppes as a soft drink for adults. Signs even won a Cannes Lion in 2009.

Sounds familiar?

In 2001 and 2002 BMW produced a series of eight short films called The Hire. All films featured famous movie directors (Wong Kar Wai, Ang Lee, John Woo, Guy Ritchie …) and Clive Owen as the ‘Driver’. The films highlighted the performance aspects of various BMW cars, but as I wrote in the blog post Top 40 Product Placements of all time: 20-11 “even if you consider that they were paid ads, some of those short movies are small masterpieces.”

Schweppes invited five directors and asked them to make short films for mature audience. You can watch all five of them at Schweppes Short Film festival website or find them on YouTube.

Schweppes in Signs (2007, Schweppes, screen capture)


All films make reference to Schweppes, but product placement was very subtle. In Signs we saw Schweppes’ bottle in a couple of scenes and also Schweppes’ trademark sound “Schhhh…”.

On YouTube Signs has more than 9 million views and I suggest that you watch it. It’s great.

But so is Paperman.