In the first ever commercial for Armstrong, a new spirit beer for Guinness Ghana, an undercover bar converts into a business when the men’s wives come to check in on them.
Directed by Slim of South African production company Egg Films, the humorous spot was conceptualised by Saatchi & Saatchi Cape Town creative director Gavin Whitfield and art director Yvonne Hall.
The entire conversion from bar to business was done in-camera – all the revolving sets were operated by hand.
Egg Films executive producer Nicci Cox explains: “Slim wanted the ad to be real – we didn’t want to do anything that went beyond the realm of believable. In order to make it real, it had to be real.’
Slim adds: “I want the viewers to believe without question that these guys created the crazy mechanisms themselves, using their own skills from everyday life and by hand. As soon as we involve any unbelievable or post-intensive (3D) devices, our story becomes far-fetched and less entertaining.
“This is not to say that the mechanisms and contraptions we see in the ad are not insanely clever and impressive. They had to deliver entertaining and memorable moments that have to be appreciated by even the least manly-man.’
Three big sets – the bar, pool table and the revolving wall – were built over four weeks by Marcia Vermaak and Raphael Reineke from Marcia’s Studios, as well as computer tables, a dart board, signage and a video game.
Although the agency mentioned casting the spot in Ghana, it wasn’t a prerequisite for the job. However, Cox and Slim flew to Accra to cast the leads and research Ghanaian bars, office spaces, colours and textures, before shooting the commercial in an empty shop in Jeppestown, Johannesburg.
Cox continues: “We also shot a Twi (Ghanaian language) version of the ad so the leads needed to be fluent. I’m very happy we did cast in Ghana – we found three great guys and one lady. It also gave us the opportunity to see Ghana and make sure that what we re-created in Johannesburg was authentic and wouldn’t be questioned by the viewing public in Ghana.’
Slim adds: “I was really blown away by the level of guys we saw – it was quite a hard choice. Our cast was amazing and super friendly. I’d work with them again anytime.’
The ad was shot over two days by DOP Willie Nel, edited by Saki Bergh at Left and scored by Markus Wormstorm.
“We spent a full day rehearsing, with all the sets working, so we could choreograph each shot,’ comments Slim. “During the actual shoot, we could have got it in one take – everything worked immaculately.’
Cox concludes: “According to the agency the spot has been very well liked. It’s also been featured on a number of blogs internationally, like MediaBistro’s AgencySpy, Coloribus and We Love Ads.’
Screen Africa magazine – July 2012