BBDO Toronto's Chris Booth on how the birth of his child influenced this moving campaign for the footcare brand
Athlete's foot. Dry skin. Corns. Warts! Let's be honest, on face value footcare ain't the sexiest sector to get your mitts into as a creative. But this new Canadian campaign out of BBDO Toronto for Dr Scholl's is a real humdinger, full of feels and humanity right at its very centre.
The spot follows life from birth, journeying through every step, whether exciting or seemingly mundane, through the eyes of a person's feet, highlighting the importance that movement has on our day-to-day lives - something that many take for granted too often.
Entitled 'Born to Move', the film was produced by Skin & Bones, but directed by BBDO Toronto associate creative director Chris Booth - someone with particular closeness to such a campaign due to the birth of his baby daughter six months ago.
LBB's Addison Capper chatted with him to find out more.
LBB> What kind of brief were you presented with and what were your thoughts when you first saw it?
Chris> The brief was to create an emotional piece for Dr. Scholl’s based on their new ‘Born to Move’ brand platform. The new direction captures the idea that nothing should stop us from moving, especially not pain, tiredness or discomfort. Dr. Scholl’s believes when we’re in motion, we’re living as we’re meant to.
I was very excited by the opportunity, because Dr. Scholl’s is such an iconic brand that has mostly stuck to functional and product focused advertising – so I knew this work could be something very fresh and surprising for them.
LBB> Being brutally honest... footcare isn't the sexiest of sectors! What were your initial steps to finding an idea that had emotion and humanity to it?
Chris> The new brand platform did a lot of the setup work. When you think about the joy of movement, it’s easy to move away from the product, and start to explore the beauty and importance of movement, both big and small.
LBB> What inspired the idea to focus on the evolution of life?
Chris> The new tagline ‘Born to Move’ certainly inspired the evolution approach. Not to mention, I just had a beautiful baby girl six months ago. Watching her figure out her world and begin exploring her own movement is, as any parent will know, a truly transformational experience. In fact, I was proud to actually use her in the film for the opening and closing shots. I love that this film will become a beautiful reminder of her first small movements.
LBB> How did you decide on each scenario to feature?
Chris> At first it was just a huge brain dump on all the daily scenarios where there are beautiful moments of movement. Starting from a tiny baby all the way through to adulthood. Some big, some extremely small. From there it was an exercise of paring them down to the most poignant, beautiful mix of scenes. Of course, we ended up shooting almost 70 scenes and about 10 of them didn’t make the edit. But it became a very tough decision-making process because they all had something very special about them.
LBB> Let’s talk about the production and direction a bit. Considering we see no faces in this... what was the casting process like?
Chris> Difficult. We needed a natural progression and consistency of talent in both look and performance through the years. This meant looking through a lot of pictures of people’s feet, toes, leg shape, and skin tone… surprisingly not easy to match up.
After the age of three we needed leads that were proficient in ballet. So, there was a lot of reaching out to ballet schools for submissions as well as a pretty wide online talent search. Our teenage and adult performer needed to be professional quality ballerinas – so there was a high bar in terms of our expectations. Needless to say, I watched a lot of, and learned quite a bit about ballet during this process.
LBB> And then with that in mind... how do you go about creating emotion to a film with no facial expressions to cling on to?
Chris> Our approach with the actors was to play out the scene as if we were capturing the whole thing. If the actors are expressing themselves as they normally would, the feet and movement follow right along. So, it’s really quite special to see how much nuance, emotion and information you can glean from just observing feet. This unique approach left quite a lot to the imagination in a powerful way.
LBB> What was the shoot like? Are there any moments that will stay with you?
Chris> The shoot was hectic. As mentioned before, we shot 70 scenes in two-and-a-half days. We had eight lead females (including four small children!), six male cast, a bunch of extras, unique scenes and art direction for every set up, seven different locations – so the coordination and logistics were puzzling. Crazy, really. But when we wrapped, we were all blown away by what we had accomplished. It was a big team effort, and a relentless attitude and passion for the project that got it done.
LBB> What were the trickiest elements of the project and how did you overcome them?
Chris> The trickiest part of the project was the sheer number of shots that we had to get in a small window of time. It was truly a monumental effort and a ton of teamwork and flexibility to keep moving from one scene setup to the next over essentially two and half days. Another tricky element was the casting. Finding eight actresses who had similar feet, toes, legs, height, acting ability, and not to mention ballet skill – across all ages – was quite the exercise.
And the sheer volume of setups and number of cast members. This meant 70 unique scenes, lighting setups, propping, art direction – all done in a run-and-gun style. This meant our preparation for the shoot was quite intense and involved quite a few spreadsheets! Wardrobe for all the talent and scenes was also quite elaborate – especially since we wanted our wardrobe and footwear to be reflective of the fashion trends over the last three decades.
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
Chris> The ballet element of the film was an important addition to the narrative. It added another level of expressiveness in movement, and beauty in those scenes. I also have two step-daughters who are seven and 10 who are both aspiring dancers – so again, there was a familial connection that inspired these themes.
I’d really like to thank the production team at Skin & Bones for their help getting this done. They always found a solution to every problem and maintained the highest standard of excellence in the face of a very logistically daunting job. I’d also like to thank the clients at Bayer for their support and flexibility in bringing this vision to life.