Head behind the scenes on this mesmerising new campaign with Taylor James ECD Jay Harwood
For FIJI Water’s first campaign in over five years, the Wonderful Agency approached creative production studio Taylor James to help craft the brand’s bold new look.
Taking viewers on a journey from the pristine clouds high above Fiji to an ancient artesian aquifer deep below the surface, set to the music of Hans Zimmer, the films aim to show how nature perfects every rain drop to create not just water, but FIJI Water.
To find out how the stunning campaign came together, LBB speaks with Taylor James ECD Jay Harwood who divulges on the creative decisions and inspirations behind the work.
LBB> This project showcases Fiji’s recent rebrand - what was the look and feel you were aiming for with the assets created?
Jay Harwood> In helping to create FIJI Water’s first campaign in five years, they wanted to highlight the unique purity found in the Fijian Islands where the water is sourced. They were introducing new packaging with a bigger and bolder hibiscus as the focal point. But to truly showcase the uniqueness of the islands and highlight the larger story of how this pristine environment perfected the water over hundreds of years, we used vibrant images with hyperrealism to showcase this gorgeous island through a very highly saturated, heightened reality. The look and feel is very Avatar-esque in a lot of ways.
LBB> There must have been so many moving parts to creating these vibrant scenes. How many different elements did you need to handle?
Jay> There were a lot of moving parts, and we served as the one-stop shop for this project. Right from the opportunity to pitch, we knew the work was in our wheelhouse, and it was something we were excited to do. It’s all of our strengths –VFX, live action, full solutions. We worked closely with the team at the Wonderful Agency, the in-house creative and production team for The Wonderful Company, every step of the way to make sure we accurately and authentically brought the story to life.
LBB> The music is a huge part of creating the mood of the ads. What was it like to be able to collaborate on a project with Hans Zimmer?
Jay> When determining the sound of the spots, we were referencing Zimmer’s work as inspiration, specifically Blade Runner 2049 and Interstellar. The spots are very cinematic, and the music plays a big part. That’s when the team at the Wonderful Agency said, ‘why not just go to the guy we’re referencing?’ Luckily, he was available and interested. The Wonderful Agency team worked closely with him to refine the sound, connecting inflections with the CG work of the environment, and it really just helps bring the majesty of the environment to life and bring a unique connection to the spots.
LBB> The shots almost move and flow like water - can you tell us about some of the creative production decisions made on this project?
Jay> Sure. We had to figure out the best way to make the shots flow like that. Finely tuning the set, which was built on a soundstage, and the camera movements was important. We shot on a motion-control rig as everything was shot in slow motion, and we knew what camera moves we wanted to make. We wanted to take the audience on a water journey, starting from the clouds, and landing in the aquifier, and that’s exactly what was achieved.
LBB> You mentioned that this project ran very smoothly - what factors do you feel contributed to that smooth collaboration process?
Jay> I would say that this project’s smooth running was definitely in part because we were able to have the best of the best. Everyone was working within their niche. FIJI Water and the Wonderful Agency came to us with a very clear vision, and were very collaborative every step of the way. Everyone just wanted to make the best product possible, and we achieved that.
LBB> You created a number of different spots - do you have a personal favourite and why?
Jay> It's between Clouds and Rock, I like the energy of Clouds, but love the beauty in rock. and how it keeps descending and changing scale from wide to macro. Pretty tricky shot to create from set design to simulation. However, there is a 30-second spot in the works, which will be my favorite, as it combines all the shots and sounds together in one cohesive story.
LBB> And what was your favourite or most enjoyable moment during this project?
Jay> This project was one of the smoothest I’ve worked on. I’m lucky to say I’ve been saying that a lot lately. The crew on this project was the best of the best. Our network of global talent means we have the best Houdini effects artists, the right amount of people we needed, working at the right skill level for every task. From concept, to client, to crew, and with all the collaboration, it all came together beautifully. Everyone was a specialist. It made every moment of this project enjoyable.
LBB> What was the most technically difficult?
Jay> Once we move down through the lava rocks, everything is CGI and the water dripping down through the dense rock was a crazy simulation to create. The detail in there is beautiful!!
LBB> Any other interesting production insight you would like to add?
Jay> FIJI Water and the Wonderful Agency were one of the nicest clients I have had the pleasure of working with - super respectful, really understanding of the process. Couldn't have been a better collaboration. And, all the work with them was done virtually with the COVID restrictions. So that was another feat on its own. Hopefully we will get the chance to meet in person at some point.