In the world of TV advertising, the “Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon” commercial that first aired 32 years ago is a classic. Now it is back, but expanded and embellished for Internet and interactive viewing.
The latest Grey Poupon campaign started with a traditional television ad that aired on the Oscar Awards TV broadcast last Sunday. The 30-second spot, played like a trailer for the feature-length online version. Titled “The Chase,” the commercial, created by CP&B, picks up where the original left off in 1981, with two uber-rich gentlemen dining in elegance in their separate chauffeur-driven cars. As before, one gentleman leans out his window to ask the gentleman in the passing car if he had any Grey Poupon. Once he receives it, his car speeds off and that’s when the excitement begins…and leaves off. To see where the plot goes from there, viewers are told to visit the Grey Poupon website and click on the 2-minute “lost footage” version. From there, viewers are enticed to re-run the video and find the hidden “haute” spots to win prizes such as caviar and champagne flutes.
Co-branded marketing has long been a part of the film business. Tacit endorsements – a star holding a brand label-legible soft drink can or a box of cereal sitting prominently on the kitchen table as the TV family eats breakfast – register subliminally in the viewer’s mind. Better yet, aligning your brand identity with a sexy, daring superhero raises desire. Lately, video shorts and YouTube have brought another type of co-branded marketing to the forefront. The one above is timed to the release of Peter Jackson’s new “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” filmed in New Zealand. It’s a concept that works beautifully, from its tie-in with the title “Unexpected Journey,” to the on-board safety instruction for Hobbit passengers heading to Middle Earth, to its plug for Air New Zealand. The airline is also offering a global sweepstakes. Count the Elvish codes in the original safety video, visit the website to unlock the code, and you’re entered to win a round-trip ticket for two to attend the world premiere in New Zealand, along with other Middle Earth prizes. It all works – and travelers may even pay attention to the safety video rather than take a snooze.
For Coke Zero’s joint promotion of the new James Bond film “Skyfall,” Belgian ad agency Duval Guillaume Modern set up an elaborate stunt in the Antwerp central train station. It began when unsuspecting commuters walked up to a Coke vending machine, which displayed a promotional offer that came with a hitch. They could win two free tickets to a special screening of “Skyfall,” if they could get to the vending machine on Platform Six within 70 seconds.
Anyone who has witnessed a food photo shoot knows that there is a vast difference between making food look delicious through the lens of a camera and actually making it taste great. This is true of both gourmet dishes concocted by renowned chefs and fast foods sold from a drive-thru window. Under hot studio lights, fresh vegetables wilt, peaches turn brown, hot foods coagulate and moist foods dry out. Photographers use “stand-in” foods during set-up and have back-ups in case the “star dish” proves not to be photogenic. Food stylists have an arsenal of tricks to simulate, imitate, and enhance ingredients to create a “just-made” illusion. Styling this hamburger shoot for McDonald’s is tame compared to most food shoots. What it didn’t show is what a Big Mac looks like after it has been wrapped in paper flattening out the bun and squashed into a bag with fries on top.
These viral videos are actually ads for New Era Cap Company, which is the exclusive manufacturer and marketer of caps for all U.S. major league baseball teams, minor affiliates and more than 200 U.S. colleges and universities. The videos don’t mention headwear until the close, but viewers recognize the rivalry, antics, jabs and banter of sport fanatics just by seeing the logo on the caps. The Chicago Cubs and White Sox caps make clear each wearer’s team loyalties and “tribal ” identifications.
Starring popular character actors Craig Robinson and Nick Offerman, the series of video ads are hilarious – and probably very close to reality. The ads follow on the heels of another Brooklyn Brothers ad series for New Era, starring actors Alec Baldwin and John Krasinski and the rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox.
If the existentialist playwright Jean-Paul Sartre had a house cat, it would undoubtedly have Henri’s morose outlook on life. This video short is written and directed by Will Braden, with narration in French by Will Braden, who lives in Seattle, Washington, and doesn’t speak French as his first language. Braden’s video production business is mostly engaged in making videographs of wedding receptions and producing special video projects for local organizations. He keeps his creative senses and his sense of humor sharp by producing his own film shorts. This one is a sequel to Henri’s first appearance in a short that Braden made as a student film project in 2007.
Years ago designer Saul Bass explained how he approached film title sequences to me when I interviewed him for an article. “Find an image that will be provocative, seductive yet true to the film,” he said. “It has to have some ambiguity, some contradiction, not only visually but conceptually. Not just isolating the prettiest frame, but finding a metaphor for the film.“
Beginning with his 1955 work on Otto Preminger’s “The Man with the Golden Arm,” Bass transformed the way film title sequences were perceived forever. He approached the task with a graphic designer’s eye, so that stills from his title sequences easily translated into a powerful iconic poster for the movie.
For a Central China Television (CCTV) promotional commercial, Chinese ad agency, MMIA, undertook to retrace the history of China in an animated version of a traditional Chinese ink-and-wash landscape painting. Ink-and-wash is an art style that developed thousands of years ago and is noted for brush strokes that range from bold forms to faint ink washes that render scenes in a dreamlike mist. To simulate this liquid effect, MMIA turned to Troublemakers.tv, a production company based in Paris, and German director Niko Tziopanos of weareflink. The result is mesmerizing, a merging of design, computer graphics, visual effects and live action blending seamlessly together to appear that an ancient ink painting has come to life.
Here’s a novel way to get consumers to test out your product. In March, Nokia announced a competition to shoot a short film entirely with a Nokia N8 mobile phone. It invited entrants to send in a story pitch and offered a $5,000 filming budget and two Nokia N8s to eight finalists.
“Splitscreen: A Love Story,” directed by UK-based JW Griffiths, won the first place award of $10,000.
When Dutch financial company SNS Reaal produced an online only annual report, it had its designer Fabrique summarize the salient points in a simple 2 and a half minute film. No fancy computer graphics, no elaborate sets, no fuzzy corporate-speak, just three ordinary-looking people walking viewers through who they are, what they do and how they performed in 2010. The complete annual is presented just as simply, incorporating functions that let readers make a custom pdf of just the pages or paragraphs that they want to keep for reference. The first test of transparent reporting: make it understandable.
EF International Language Centers, a Swedish-based company that offers study abroad programs and language courses in some 50 countries, has just launched a new series of short video ads that have no voiceover sales pitch, no mention of what the school does or how to enroll, and no mention of Education First at all except for flashing EF briefly on the screen with a website address at the end. Elegant typography displays choice words in the language of the featured country with the phonetic pronunciation spelled out underneath, but there is no translation of what the words mean nor what they sound like when spoken aloud. And yet, it all works. The commercials aren’t about the process of learning a language, but the life-enhancing benefits of studying abroad. The message conveys the atmosphere of the culture, the experience of being there, the promise of friendships, and the carefree joy of discovery. Directed by Gustav Johansson and produced by Camp David Film, the EF “Live the Language” videos say a lot without uttering a word.
“Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage” (Madagascar, a Journey Diary) is one of five animated short films nominated for an Academy Award this year. From a purely artistic standpoint this animated short by French filmmaker Bastien Dubois is compelling to view. Colored pencil and watercolor drawings come to life, so that viewers feel like they’ve stepped into the pages of a traveler’s diary. Dubois undoubtedly achieved this using a rotoscoping technique in Adobe After Effects — a process of drawing masks, animating the path and then using the masks to define a matte.
Having trouble relating Western art history to contemporary culture? Watch this video that the French-American band Hold Your Horses made for its track “70 Million,” produced by L’Ogre. Apparently, the entire video was filmed over two weekends in a parking garage in Paris. See if you can name the painting and the artist.
Feature films are a universal language as the media design students from Hannover, Germany, who put together this animated video prove. Felix Meyer and Pascal Monaco picked 35 of their favorite blockbuster movies from over the decades and distilled them down to an iconic sight or sound from each. The answers don’t seem to be posted anywhere online, so you might have to email them to find out if you guessed right.
If you have to take a bathroom break, do it during the program because you won’t want to miss this TV commercial for Sapporo Beer – or “biru” as the Japanese would pronounce it.
Developed by Toronto-based Dentsu Canada, the commercial represents the Japanese beermaker’s first full-scale ad campaign in Canada. Co-directed by Mark Zibert of Sons and Daughters and Gary Thomas of Crush, the film was shot on location in Guangzhou, China over the period of a month.
A mythological tale of how Sapporo beer is crafted, the two-minute film has an other-worldly epic quality like “Lord of the Rings.” It combines photography, animation/CG, and 2D art/matt paintings onto geometry, developed by Crush’s Sean Cochrane. Three dedicated artists were assigned to create each of the transitional rooms, with illustrations by James Zhang guiding the way. The cast too was composed of authentic trained martial artists, taiko drummers, and sumo wrestlers, along with actors playing samurai warriors and geishas. All in all, it’s an elegant departure from the “male-bonding, jock-humor” beer ads shown on American TV.
This advertisement for City Harvest was filmed entirely on an iPhone in a single shot. It was created and produced by The Mill NY, in collaboration with Draftcb, a New York City marketing communications agency.
The ad was made to support City Harvest, which collects over 270,000 pounds of excess food from restaurants, grocers, corporate cafeterias, manufacturers and farms daily and uses it to prepare and deliver over 260,000 meals per week to community food programs in the New York City area. The apples in the video represent the amount of food wasted in New York City every day. City Harvest states that it is the “world’s first food rescue organization.”