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Behind Baz Luhrmann and Bombay Sapphire’s Mesmerising Call for Creativity


The legendary filmmaker shares unseen footage and Juan Cabral brings Jorge Luis Borges to life in a campaign from AMV BBDO that’s all about finding creative inspiration in the world around us. Bombay Sapphire’s Natasha Curtin and AMV BBDO’s Suzanne Barker, Jack Smedley and George Hackforth-Jones talk to LBB’s Laura Swinton

Behind Baz Luhrmann and Bombay Sapphire’s Mesmerising Call for Creativity
“Watching Juan Cabral was like seeing our idea come to life before our eyes. He approached the shoot with exactly the same wide-eyed inquisitiveness we hope to inspire in our audience. He wanted to untether the production process and have the freedom to find things in his surroundings that he’d never noticed before. Ordinary things that in a certain light, or from a certain angle could be elevated to the world of high concept art. We shot in his home city of Buenos Aires, so seeing him take to the streets and rediscover the place he’s called home for many years was mesmerising.”

Jack Smedley and George Hackforth-Jones are creative directors at AMV BBDO and they’re reminscing wistfully about the production of their new campaign for Bacardi-owned gin brand Bombay Sapphire. ‘Saw This Made This’ is a campaign that’s all about urging us to look at the world with fresh eyes and to find creative inspiration in it - and as Jack and George reflect on the process of bringing the idea into existence, they realise that the whole process has been an embodiment of the campaign’s philosophy.

‘Saw This Made This’ is an idea that Bombay Sapphire is embracing in a big way, having drawn on some creative heavy hitters, including celebrated filmmaker and artistic visionary Baz Luhrmann, who has come on as a creative director, and aforementioned celebrated commercial director Juan Cabral. 

The sprawling integrated campaign encompasses two shorts - one that pulls together Baz Luhrmann’s personal collection of previously unreleased footage and shows him in action, and another in which Juan Cabral takes inspiration from the Jorge Luis Borges story ‘The Aleph’ and sheds a different perspective on his home of Buenos Aires. The public will be encouraged to share the things that inspire them creatively on social media under the tag #SawThisMadeThis, while hundreds of artists and creators will share before and after videos showing how they reframe the world around them. Baz will share the submissions that speak to him on his own social media - and the campaign will culminate in 2023 with a showcase of creativity with creative organisations around the world, including the Design Museum in London.

Bombay Sapphire’s Creative Sparkle

The campaign is the latest iteration of Bombay Sapphire’s ‘Stir Creativity’ brand platform and the agency was tasked with what Bacardi calls a ‘FEEL’ brief, something intended to drive desire for the brand.
“Our ambition was to drive a stronger human connection to the brand through the power of creative self-expression. Put simply, our prompt was ‘how can Bombay Sapphire inspire the world’s creative potential?’,” explains Suzanne Barker, strategy partner at AMV BBDO.
That link with creativity, says Suzanne, is intrinsic to the brand. “Bombay Sapphire has always had a long-standing commitment to creativity, going back to when the brand launched in 1987,” she says. “Creativity has always been the brand’s cultural pillar, or way to connect with its audience, and for over 30 years, Bombay has collaborated with a number of artists across numerous projects. Our brand platform, ‘Stir Creativity’, has always been a rallying cry for everyone to release their creative potential and this new campaign directly builds off that platform.”
Natasha Curtin, VP of global marketing for Bombay Sapphire, says that empowering people to embrace their creativity is a long-held value for the brand - and that this campaign is allowing the brand to translate that belief into significant partnerships with creative organisations, institutes and communities around the world - including the Academy of Arts in Berlin and one of the most famous design schools in Milan: Domus Academy. 

“Bombay Sapphire believes that everybody is creative, with our ongoing mission to inspire and enable creativity around the world,” she says. “Since its inception, Bombay Sapphire has held a deep belief in enabling creativity and demonstrated a long-standing commitment to supporting the creative arts. For over thirty years we have collaborated with many artists with the purpose of bringing their creativity to life.”

A Covid-Induced Idea

If ‘Saw This Made This’ is the campaign’s central mantra, what did the teams at Bombay Sapphire and AMV BBDO see in order to make this? The answer is quite sobering. The covid-19 pandemic.
“We received this brief during the pandemic, when creativity was at its lowest, with galleries, museums, theatre all shut down,” says Suzanne. “It was really difficult for people to be inspired by anything - and we felt it was our job to remind people how to find it. But we realised the way to inspire the world was actually right in front of us - creativity is actually everywhere - you just need to look.”
In terms of timing, that call to explore and create comes just as people need it, say Jack and George. “Following the pandemic, people re-emerged from hibernation to step out into the world once more. Against this cultural backdrop, we wanted to invite the world to reappraise and rediscover their immediate surroundings. To look at the world anew and find beauty where there seemed to be none.”

But though the idea was formed during the tough times of the pandemic, the team were keen that it be anything but sombre and serious. Indeed, there’s an experimental, languorously playful feel to the brand films. After all, a didactic ‘creativity is good for you’ approach is just the thing to kill off creativity. 

George and Jack say getting that tone just right was one of the greatest challenges they had to tackle over the whole campaign. “One of the trickiest things was striking a balance between telling people how to see the world and showing them. We wanted our launch to be an invitation to the world. To set out our philosophy and inspire them to change how they see the world around them. We’re talking to creative people so being overly strategic or preachy just wasn’t going to work.”

Strictly Baz Luhrmann

The key to unlocking this idea and bringing it to life lay in collaborating with someone who embodied the ethos of ‘Saw This Made This’. 
Baz Luhrmann, whose unique perspective has conjured up the distinctive worlds of movies like ‘Romeo + Juliet’, ‘Moulin Rouge!’ and, most recently, ‘Elvis’, was just the person. He helped set the vision for the whole campaign, as well as amplifying it.
For Baz, the campaign’s philosophy spoke to him. "I truly believe that everyone is inherently creative, no matter who you are, where you come from or what you do,” he says. “You don't have to be labeled an artist to be considered a creative. If you just give yourself permission to see the world as a gallery of inspiration and reframe how you think about things, you'll unlock a part of yourself you didn't know existed. By partnering with Bombay Sapphire, I want to encourage people everywhere to think about how they can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary and share this inspiration to make the world a more creatively nurturing place.”


And it’s clear that the experience of working with Baz inspired everyone else involved in creating the campaign. Natasha Curtin, VP of global marketing for Bombay Sapphire says that the mixology of Baz and Bombay Sapphire has been quite special.
“Baz Luhrmann has been fantastic to collaborate with on this campaign. From the very start it was clear that he and Bombay Sapphire had a shared vision. We both believe that creativity is an inherent human trait and that everyone can be creative, but sometimes we need a little inspiration.” 

Natasha notes that the director’s own life story encapsulates everything that the campaign is trying to convey. “Baz Luhrmann is passionate about supporting creative communities across the globe and it’s been exciting to hear his own story and creative journey from his small-town beginnings in Australia where he was inspired daily by his ordinary surroundings, constantly thinking about how he could turn them into something extraordinary – which is central to the ‘Saw This Made This’ mechanic,” she says. “His films are testament to his passion for creativity and storytelling, which is why he always felt like the perfect fit for this campaign.”

Creatives Jack and George agree that this personal connection with the campaign’s meaning made Baz the perfect fit. “Baz isn’t just a director, he’s a polymath with experience in music, theatre, fashion, and photography. He’s a passionate believer that anyone can truly be creative if they learn to open their eyes to the world around them. Despite being a world-renowned creative, he truly believes in the democratisation of the creative process, which is really at the core of the whole campaign,” they say.
And as creatives themselves, Jack and George say that the chance to see such a prolific and unique mind at work up close was a highlight. “Baz brought a passion and unique perspective that has come from decades working in the creative industry and spending time with visionaries in a host of disciplines. He has an ability to sift through the chatter of daily life and hone in on the exquisite hiding in the ordinary.”

Juan Cabral Turns Buenos Aires into an Art Gallery

Baz isn’t the only director involved in this campaign. Juan Cabral has shot a film around his home city of Buenos Aires, a place that he often cites as a source of inspiration. The film is montage of unexpected shots that frame the city in unexpected ways, shot in a variety of film formats that conjure visions of a moving scrap book. 

It’s set to a reading of Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges’ short story ‘The Aleph’, a piece that Juan brought with him to the campaign.

Explaining how Baz and Juan’s creative input interacted, Jack and George say, “Baz set the creative vision for the campaign; the idea that when you open your eyes to it, there is creativity everywhere; magic and poetry in even the most familiar and everyday moments. In responding to that vision, Juan found ‘The Aleph’, by Jorge Louis Borges - a rare and original piece that reminds the reader of all the wonders of the world and brings emotion to life. We immediately felt it was a perfect piece to inform the film. Selected elements were then taken from the original text that best captured his vision, lent themselves to the visual narrative and remained true to the intent of Borges.”

The film cuts through with a very distinct look, relying on expertly crafted cinematography, colour and post - not least because it’s shot on a range of different formats. Juan Cabral worked with his team in Buenos Aires, led by DP Leandro Filloy - and in London, colourist Jean Clement Soret at Company 3 then worked his magic on the footage. Jordi Bares and his ‘incredible post-production team at Rohtau’ were also integral to the final result.

“We were lucky to have the most incredible team crafting every aspect of this campaign,” say Jack and George. “We took great care to find a distinct palette that would work throughout the film, gave a cohesion to the shots whilst retaining the distinct quality of our mixed media. Digital, polaroid and 35mm all contributed to provide a more visceral and authentic feel to each captured moment.”

Creativity Everywhere

With the two central films released, the campaign is set to explode around the world. The campaign will launch in ten markets, including the US, UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Greece and the Netherlands across TV, cinema, VOD, OOH, social and PR. And Natasha teases that there are a lot of exciting activations to come.

“You can expect to see everything from billboard advertising, Juan Cabral’s short film in cinemas and on social, mouth-watering cocktail content from bartenders across the globe on our social channels - and local artist collaborations and creative institute partnerships across multiple countries,” she says.

But perhaps the most important element of the campaign isn’t the creativity that it broadcasts out into the world, but the collaborations that will give a platform for people’s creativity. Natasha says that partnerships with art organisations like the Design Museum are key to the campaign as well as the celebrations of creativity they will host on the run up to World Creativity Day next April. 

“By showcasing work from an incredible range of artists, creators and mixologists, we want everyone to be inspired and to join in with this global movement of creativity,” says Natasha. “The partnerships around the world have been built to benefit creative communities, and will include new limited edition artist-designed items and give-back initiatives. 

We want everyone to show us what they see using #SawThisMadeThis.” 


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Categories: Spirits, Alcoholic Beverages

AMV BBDO, Wed, 12 Oct 2022 16:42:30 GMT