When we noticed that Schweppes had released a new spot through GPY&R, we got all a bit giddy in the office. The ‘Schweppervescence’ campaign is not one to disappoint. You all remember ‘Burst’, with its super slow-motion cameras capturing a water balloon’s last-living moments at 10,000 shots per second. ‘Tumble’ is a welcome and impressive addition, featuring an entire cast of stunt-people literally ‘tumbling’ down a hill, from snowy peak to watery base. ECD at GPY&R Melbourne (and CCO of Y&R Australia/New Zealand) Ben Coulson and Revolver director Steve Rogers discuss.
LBB> What was the brief from the client and what were you initial thoughts when you saw it?
BC> The brief to us from Schweppes was very simple: to build on the great work we had done with Burst, but make the brand appeal more to a younger audience by making it feel more energetic, invigorating, refreshing and fun.
LBB> Despite being completely original in its execution, the visual metaphor for quenching one's thirst with a Schweppes product, which we see in the spot, is a nod to the heritage of the relationship between the brand and GPY&R. Why is this approach still so successful and, strategically, what does it achieve for the brand?
BC> I'm not sure the ad says much about our company to anyone outside the industry, but over the years our partnership with Schweppes has spawned a strong brand essence. I think it comes down to a few simple things.
From a Schweppes point of view, their style and sophistication is what makes them different. This not only means we have to make the ad look and sound classy, but also talk to the audience in an intelligent, thought provoking way – not beat them over the head with the message. Lots of our competitors talk about refreshment and quenching thirst, but no one talks to their audience like Schweppes does.
LBB> The whole tumbling down a hill theme has taken us right back to our youthful summers spent doing exactly that. What does this reminiscent theme say about Schweppes as a brand and its target market?
BC> Yes we always felt that this was the big adult version of that playful pastime we've all enjoyed as children. It's the Schweppes version of that. And when tasked with making the brand more youthful and invigorating, we felt it was the perfect fit.
LBB> What did director Steve Rogers bring to the final production?
BC> Steve brought a lot, he and Revolver always do. They bring a passion, vision and professionalism that gives everyone the confidence that the project will actually work. We'd never seen a stunt exactly like what we were proposing (neither had the stunties as it turns out) and getting the lightness of the tumbling was vital to its success. Steve made sure it worked and looked beautiful.
All that said, in discussions with Steve since completing Tumble, he did mention that had he known how challenging this spot was going to be beforehand, he probably wouldn't have touched it. Thanks again, Steve.
LBB> Love the use of 'HMS Pinafore' as the soundtrack! Why was it the perfect choice for the ad?
BC> We always felt this ad deserved a big orchestral track. The trick then was to not make it too conservative or let it take itself too seriously. Gilbert and Sullivan is as much fun as you can have with orchestral music, which is why we chose it.
LBB> How long did it take to fully develop the concept and what were the key challenges you faced?
BC> This one has taken a while, nearly two years from brief to on air. Funnily enough, the end product has hardly changed from what we presented in the very first meeting. As you can probably imagine, it was a hard spot to research and there were many challenges along the way, but everyone involved – both at GPY&R and Schweppes – felt passionately that this was the ad to make and, in the end, that passion won out.
LBB> What was the brief from the agency and what were your initial thoughts when you saw it?
SR> It was one of those wonderful open-ended ideas that just reeked of unbridled enjoyment. The brief was precisely to illustrate ‘Schweppervescence’ in the most visceral and life affirming way possible’. The guys at GPY&R cleverly distilled the idea into this incredible roll down a hill, from the ice of the snow to the bubbles of the pristine water hole.
LBB> What was the pre-production process like?
SR> Pre-production was full on. The logistics of the job were extremely challenging. We had a large crew constructing rigging towers and building overhead wire lines in numerous locations, throughout both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Planning for that required a lot of takes and skill. The agency was amazing in getting the script up, keeping the project on track and ultimately protecting the tone of the piece.
LBB> How did go about achieving the tumbling motion of the cast? How much was done in post and how much was captured in camera?
SR> All of the people used in the commercial were cast as stunt performers – this was paramount to achieving the movement and shots required. Some of the shots are freestyle actions from the cast, and some involved the use of an air ramp. However the majority of the epic tumbling shots were created via the use of a number of expert rigging set ups.
The cast were rigged to over head lines on huge towers which were built at each location... and then released. People on the ground then helped to create movement as the cast moved along the lines. The post process then involved removing the wires and towers from the wider landscape.
LBB> What was the shoot like as a whole? Where did it take place?
SR> It was definitely tough. As mentioned, we shot at numerous locations all over New Zealand, in both the North and South Islands. There were all sorts of terrain and conditions – from snow capped glaciers to gushing water.
It took the dedication of a great cast and crew to get the shots required in some very tricky locations. To see the end result there is a definite sense of satisfaction and achievement felt by all involved.
LBB> And what do you think ‘HMS Pinafore’ brings to the finished film?
SR> It was that perfect mix of cinema and lightheartedness. It disarms the film and also doesn’t enslave it to fashion...
Advertising Agency: GPY&R, Melbourne, Australia
Executive Creative Director: Ben Coulson
Director: Steve Rogers
Senior Copywriter: Evan Roberts
Senior Art Director: Chris Northam
Agency Executive Producer: Romanca Jasinski
Group Account Director: Mat Cummings
Senior Account Director: Matilda Hobba
Strategy: Tom Ward, Tom Ding
Executive Producers: Michael Ritchie, Pip Smart
Producer: Pip Smart
Cinematographer: Adam Arkapaw
Editing: Jack Hutchings / The Butchery
Music: D’Oyley Carte Opera Company / HMS Pinafore
Music Supervision: Karl Richter / Level Two Music
Sound Studio: Mark Mitchell / Electric Dreams
Sound Design: Paul Le Couteur / Flagstaff Studios
Grade: Ben Eagleton / Fuel
Senior Flame Artist: Justin Bromley
Flame Artist: Julian Ford