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Behind the Scenes of Petal and Imposter’s Tribute to the Chaos of Youth


Director Thomas Ralph, Petal ECD Tim Cairns, and Limelite’s Vlad Bolyelov talk LBB through their nostalgic and anarchic project filmed in the heart of Ukraine

Behind the Scenes of Petal and Imposter’s Tribute to the Chaos of Youth

At certain moments in our lives, a little chaos can be a good thing. That’s true of the whirlwind years between teenagerdom and adulthood, as the joy of freedom outpaces the weight of responsibilities. 

It’s also the feeling that fintech startup Petal looked to capture in its campaign “Credit for adults?”. Tapping into Petal’s offering of access to credit which doesn’t require a credit score, the brand is looking to speak authentically to young people who have grown tired of the often-lecturing tone adopted by big-name banks. 

To bring that vision to life, the team enlisted the production company Imposter as well as director Thomas Ralph and the production service company Limelite. The resulting ad, filmed in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv before the terrible events of this year, stands as an ode to that beautifully disorganised time in life. 

To find out how the ad came together, what it means for Petal as a band, and how Ukraine cemented its position as a filmmaking powerhouse, LBB spoke to Thomas alongside Petal ECD Tim Cairns and Limelite EP Vlad Bolyelov. 

Above: ‘Credit for adults?’ ran on digital TV with 90 and 30-second versions, on top of eight 15-second ads which highlighted different product features. 

LBB> The spot does such a great job of visualising that ‘messy’ feeling of being a young adult and taking more control over your life. Thomas, as a director, what steps did you take to ensure that almost chaotic energy came through in the ad?

Thomas> That was one of the most fun aspects of this project - sometimes directing commercials is like photoshopping reality to create this idyllic and polished world. But here we wanted the opposite, with nothing luxurious allowed! 

We found the smallest location we could, trashed the set, kept the camera bland, pick-n-mixed a lazy wardrobe and muted the colours in the grade. I had a lot of fun walking a line between keeping a sense of cool, yet maintaining the chaotic, messy and cheap vibes of the world we see on-screen. 

LBB> Instead of putting a different lens on that process, these ads really celebrate the raw and messy experience of ‘adulting’ in those early stages. Tim, why is that authentic approach the right one for you guys at PETAL to take?

Tim> For too long, banks have spoken down to young people about money, belittled them, and lectured them about how if they hadn't bought so much avocado toast they would have owned a home by now. 

Nobody needs any more of that. There's nothing wrong with not having all the answers, because none of us do. Particularly when you're getting credit for the first time and being trusted to spend money before you've earned it, that's about as adult as it gets. We wanted to talk to people honestly, let them know we understand that it's a messy time in their lives, and that that's ok. 

LBB> And from a strategy point of view, why was it important for you guys to align Petal’s brand platform with that feeling of taking control of your life for the first time?

Tim> It was important because it's a truth shared by the people who use our card, and it’s what makes Petal stand out from the competition. 

Over 87% of our card members are aged between 21-27 yrs old (with the majority getting credit for the first time). The reason why we have so many younger card members is because Petal doesn't require you to have a credit score to apply. We can look at your financial data points and use them to approve you for credit even if you've never had it before. The gig economy has changed how we work, and how we get paid, and traditional banks often overlook people who are ready for credit just because they don't fit into an outdated way of assessing them financially. 

LBB> Like so many great ads, this was filmed in Ukraine. How would you describe your experiences of working in the country, and what makes it such a successful playground for creative expression?

Thomas> This was actually my first experience of filming in Ukraine. Its incredible production reputation precedes it, and once you’re there you truly realise why it’s so special. One example is the creative ‘can do’ attitude that stretches across all departments from production to talent. 

We were really struggling to find our hero ‘NYC’ location, but after casting Lera (our lead) I off-the-cuff wondered what her real home was like. Lo and behold, a few hours later I’m standing inside her real apartment, and of course it was perfect. How many commercials in other countries would be filmed inside the talent’s actual house?! Limelite were welcoming, friendly, collaborative, talented, and very cool. 

It’s a tragedy to watch what’s unfolding there; I hope they’re all well and look forward to filming with them again in the future. 

LBB> Vlad, how much of a challenge was finding the right sets for this spot?

Vlad> Yes, finding a New York-style apartment in a post-Soviet country was quite the unique challenge! We are great with building sets, but our architecture does differ from what the Americans are used to seeing in their homes. We’d been searching for the right apartment for quite some time when Thomas came up with the idea to check our main talent's apartment! And yep, that was perfect. It also came with the added benefit of allowing our heroine to feel more relaxed in their acting, I think. 

With the help of our art department we filled the flat with more typical American furniture,  props, and even sockets, so that it resembled what the brief needed.

The apartment was super tiny, so to fit all the film crew we had to empty the whole thing including taking off the doors! We had to rent out a souvenir shop in the same building, so that all of our crew could fit. 

We were always in communication with the neighbours, as well, asking for their patience and treating some to our catering goodies in order to keep them happy. 

Above: A behind-the-scenes gallery of images taken from across the production process.

LBB> And what do you think makes Ukraine such an attractive destination for filmmakers? 

Vlad> In the last decade Ukraine has become a very strong player on the service market arena. That’s not only because Ukraine has a super effective budgeting strategy - which helps to shoot significantly more stuff then in US or EU for the same budget - but also because Ukrainian production service has proven to be extremely professional and efficient with every project they take on.  

Kyiv, the capital, has a huge historical heritage of post soviet-modernist locations as well as dystopian residential districts which are adored by music video directors and performers. Miley Cyrus, Mark Ronson, DJ Regard, Muse, Radiohead, and more have been filmed singing in front of Kyiv modernistic architecture, surrounded by the professional and very hard-working local crews. 

And perhaps above all else, the Ukrainian people have built an incredibly hospitable nation. Filmmaking is not just a job, but a passion for us and we put all our strength and dedication into every project we do. We know how to listen, we adapt to any cultural specifics and are very willing to learn new approaches. The highly professional technician crews, set designers, stylists, 1st ADs, and producers are here to face any challenges the script requires.

LBB> What was the most challenging aspect of this project, and how did you overcome it?

Thomas> There are always challenges but this project was remarkably smooth and a great collaboration. 

The moment I look back upon and smile was the first morning of the shoot. Early morning when I walked onto the location, the art director had set up this beautiful, stylish set. Then the talent walked in all camera make-up ready and hair all styled - I think somewhere the brief had got lost in translation! We were like ‘you look too good!', as we clambered around the set trashing it.  

LBB> If you had your time again, is there anything you would do differently?

Thomas> Always, but only because I’ve seen the edit too many times. We had many other vignettes pencilled which could have been fun to shoot, but alas time is always the enemy of projects like this. 

We also scanned the digital footage to film negative, and I wish we had chosen a fine grain. But honestly that's just geeky film stuff no-one else notices! 

LBB> And finally, the ad speaks to a universal feeling of somehow ‘becoming an adult’. Personally, do you recall a moment in your life when you suddenly realised that you had turned into an adult?!

Thomas> I think I’m still waiting! 

Tim> I think the truth is that no one ever really feels like an adult. One day you just stop being able to touch your toes. Having said that, tomorrow I'm changing internet providers. That feels pretty adult. 

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Categories: Credit cards, Finance

Imposter, Tue, 12 Apr 2022 07:21:00 GMT