Smirnoff's First Global Ad in 25 Years Is an Ode to its Historical Infamy

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'Infamous Since 1864' launches with cinematic spot by 72andSunny LA, MJZ's Rupert Sanders and Blacksmith
Smirnoff's First Global Ad in 25 Years Is an Ode to its Historical Infamy

There are few things more thrilling in cinema than a good chase scene. 72andSunny proves that this is certainly the case in its latest work for Smirnoff, directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman, Ghost in the Shell). Produced by MJZ, the exhilarating new spot - which is the central point of the brand's first global campaign for over 25 years - sees one unlikely bottle of alcohol transported around the world in the hands of several globe-trotting spies.

Neil Shah, global marketing director of Smirnoff, said: “We’re delighted to share the far from ordinary story of Smirnoff and what it took to become the world’s no.1 vodka brand. This will be the first truly global campaign on the brand in more than 25 years and will launch with significant media investment in markets including: North America, Europe, Latin America and Africa.  It’s been a privilege to work with renowned director Rupert Sanders, who shared our bold ambition for this campaign, and we are thrilled to soundtrack the film with an original composition of El Michels Affair’s cover of the iconic hip hop track 'Shimmy Shimmy Ya'.

Blacksmith’s colourist Mikey Pehanich, who graded the piece, lends a certifiably cinematic tone to the ad, evoking the high stakes (and high-budget) thrills of big-screen espionage outings. The action kicks off in an unassuming vodka distillery, as it’s raided by a group of authorities. Thinking fast, one man grabs a bottle of Smirnoff from the stock and makes a quick escape, catching a train and fleeing the country. In a shady underground bar, the stolen bottle reappears, stashed in a man’s fake leg – much to the patrons’ delight. From there, viewers are taken on a thrilling escapade across the globe, following the journey of the now-infamous bottle as it is smuggled into the opera, thrown dramatically onto a plane as it takes off into the sunset, and ultimately infiltrates Hollywood.


Colourist Mikey, who recently joined Blacksmith - expanding its capabilities to now offer colour grading in addition to VFX – crafts a stunning grade that contributes to the cinematic tone of the piece. He worked closely with cinematographer Jess Hall early on to establish the look and feel of each time period, exploring various films to decide which Kodak film stocks would have been used in each era featured in the spot.

Mikey comments: “I knew this spot was going to be something special and that so much of the crafting of the grade would be focused on the location. For the beginning distillery scenes, our focus was on keeping it a bit dirty – the palette is cold but with nice subtle hints of warmth to enhance the candle-lit environment. As we go through to the opera there are a lot of dense and heavy reds accompanied by soft shadows. We wanted the airplane scenes to feel very rich and golden with a bit of softer contrast to help play up the golden hour feeling and made sure the focus was always on our hero.”

He adds: “The spy and paparazzi scenes initially had a cooler feeling but after watching several times I felt it was more representative of the period and narrative to push a bit more warmth and evoke some pastel tones. For the nightclub we embraced what was captured in camera – it already had an 80's Miami night club feel to it, so we played it up by enhancing the magenta/yellow/blue tones and played up the contrast. For our final bath house scene, we also embraced the natural tones of the image, popped the towels out and shaped the images to draw attention to the heroes in each image.”

Speaking of the experience as a whole, he notes: “Being able to work back and forth with Rupert, Jess, Iwan [Zwarts, lead compositor] and creatives Dean and Hugo allowed for such a unique experience. It's rare that all the elements align for such a huge spot and it was truly an honour to work with all parties involved.”

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Brand: Smirnoff

Agency: 72andSunny

Production Company: MJZ

Director: Rupert Sanders

Post Production Company: Blacksmith

VFX Supervisor: Tom Bussell

Lead Compositor “REDACTED”: Iwan Zwarts

Lead Compositor “DRINKS”: Joey Deady

Colourist: Mikey Pehanich

Compositor: Jacob Slutsky

Compositor: Jeric Pimentel

Compositor: Jacob Coy

Compositor: Molly Intersimone

Compositor: Margolit Steiner

Junior Compositor: Yebin Ahn

Matte Painter: Marc Samson

CG Artists: Olivier Varteressian and Vitaliy Burov

Executive Producer: Charlotte Arnold

Producer: Ashley Goodwin

Music: Woodwork Music

Song: Shimmy Shimmy Ya

Composer: Philip Kay

Genres: Action, Storytelling

Categories: Spirits, Alcoholic Beverages

Blacksmith, 9 months ago