String Theory goes Gonzo for Good Books’ great cause

To raise awareness of Good Books’ benevolent raison d’être, which is purely to raise money for Oxfam, String Theory teamed up with Buck to create the first of three videos in a digital campaign called Good Books Great Writers. It’s a stunning homage to the High Priest of Gonzo – Hunter S. Thompson, and deserves plaudits for its incredible script and spectacular imagery.

Youtube Video

Dr Jane Cherrington and Jeremy Taine created Good Books back in 2006. Its zero-expenditure model is a world first. All their profits, one hundred percent, go to support communities in need through Oxfam. There is no catch. The online book-store sells exactly the same books as Amazon or Fishpond, only cheaper. It’s win–win. You buy cheaper books, and help the needy at the same time.

It’s a brilliant idea, but with zero-expenditure to spend on marketing, how do you direct people to the site, and explain the benefits?

In a bid to do just that, String Theory’s creative director Jeremy Taine and colleague Tom Paine came up with the original concept–to tell the Good Books story in the style of different authors. Taine then sat down wrote three scripts… one in the style of Hunter S. Thompson, one in the style of Raymond Chandler and one in the style of J. R. R. Tolkien. Producer Nick Barnes was then tasked with hawking them out to get made. But, after weeks of phoning and emailing all over the country, it was apparent to Barnes that none of the production companies in New Zealand had the capacity to make it pro bono. Luckily Buck TV, a massive production company in the States, jumped at the chance.

“Buck were keen for all the right reasons,” explains Taine. “They loved Hunter S. Thompson. But, as well as the warm fuzzy feeling they got for working on the side of angels, and the better night’s sleep, for all that emotional investment, they are also the biggest and possibly the best animation company out there.”

The team at Buck team dug deep, “channeling our inner gonzo, to direct and produce this homage promoting Good Books, the online bookseller that passes all its profits through to Oxfam. A big thanks to String Theory in New Zealand for bringing us this script, Antfood for their amazing audio stylings, to Thor for giving his voice and to all the artists who made this something we are proud of.”

And of the Ralph Steadman styled imagery: “It is not very often that we have the opportunity to create a graphic equivalent of a drug fueled rant bringing all of our collective skills to bear. And it is almost unfathomable that we could actually do something like this and benefit a good cause,” it says on Buck’s website.

The zero-expenditure model rules out the video playing on traditional channels such as television, so Good Books are hoping the remarkable vignette will ‘go viral’, it certainly deserves it.

Despite the three minute video being posted on YouTube for just over a week, it’s already had over 7000 views. It is also hosted on Vimeo where over 42,000 have viewed it and over a hundred people have commented on it so far:
This from Alexandre Antunes: “Impressively organic and strong in a good way.”
Juan Vila said “Wow just when you think you’ve seen it all Buck slams ya with another visual bong hit.”
Jean Liang loved the hues, saying: “Beautiful ink animation! And exotic colours!! Very amazing piece of work.”

And in terms of effectiveness, this doozy from Jens Bäckvall: “NICE! It made me go straight to the usegoodbooks.com website to check it out! Also, I love the way you’ve used Ralph Steadman’s style, but still made it your own. Great work.”
Rob Rossi was compelled to write: “I forgot, for most of the video that you guys used computers and other things to make this. Just felt like I was walking through someone’s imagination. Great work. One of the most, seamless, organic animations I’ve ever seen.”


  • String Theory & Good Books strategist: Dr Jane Cherrington
  • Creatives: Jeremy Taine and Tom Paine
  • Copywriter: Jeremy Taine
  • Producer: Nick Barnes

  • Directed by: Buck TV
  • Creative director: Ryan Honey
  • Executive producer: Maurie Enochson
  • Producers: Nick Terzich, Alyssa Evans, Emily Rickard
  • Coordinator: Ben Tucker
  • Associate Creative Director: Joshua Harvey
  • CG supervisor: Doug Wilkinson
  • Animation Director: Steve Day
  • Art director: Joe Mullen
  • Designers: Joshua Harvey, Joe Mullen, George Fuentes, Trevor Conrad, Jenny Ko, Jon Gorman
  • 2D animators: Joe Mullen, Harry Teitelman, John MacFarlane, Jamal Otolorin, Joshua Harvey, William Trebutien, Matt Everton, Taik Lee, Tristan Balos, Regis Camargo, Kendra Ryan, George Fuentes, Trevor Conrad, Jahmad Rollins, Matthew Wade
  • 3D artists: Jens Lindgren, Timm Wagener, Kai Wang, Joao Rema, Albert Omoss, Joshua Harvey, Christine Li, Kelsey Charlton, Ana Luisa Santos
  • Compositors: Nick Forshee, Alex Perry, Joshua Harvey, Joe Mullen, Moses Journey, Matt Lavoy, Jenny Ko, Helen Hsu, Elizabeth Steinberg, Adam Smith
  • Music And Sound Design: Antfood
  • Voiceover Artist: Thor Erickson
  • Voiceover Recording: Post Audio Labs

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