Remember Hungry Hippos? Slinkies? Giant, friendly, multi-coloured escargot
(without garlic) crossing the road? Blue-eyed parking metres? Balloon zoo
animals delighting passersby in the city?
Perhaps… depending on what time of night you found yourself in downtown
Jo’burg in the 1980s after a long evening out… or if you were a child in that
Johannesburg-based commercials director Slim, of Egg Films, applied his
enchanting touch to create Standard Bank’s magical realist ad for its new app.
Well-known for his creative and innovative approach, Slim succeeds in inspiring
childlike joy in his depiction of the management of finances.
The director and the ad department ingeniously created 90% of the girl’s vivid
imagination in-camera, staying true to the 80s vibe and the organic process of
what children see in their mind’s eye.
Irresistible and heralding from the 80s, brightly coloured furry children’s toys,
featured in the commercial, were inspired by the puppets from The Muppets and
Sesame Street, slinkies and the Hungry Hippos game – things a young girl would
have known and experienced during that time.
Thousands (perhaps millions) of balloons were used to create enchanting, multi-
coloured animals, boggling the mind, as they surround the little girl. Of those,
90% were created in-camera while small supplements were added in post.
With all the magical additions, one would expect that the ad is saturated with
VFX, used to create this fantasy city. But Slim kept things authentic. “In keeping
with the 80s styling, we tried to keep as much in-camera as possible, but
Sinister Studios did help with a few things, like the giant slinky coming down the
“The street puppets were shot on Chroma and dropped in during post, but they
were real builds with the puppeteers from CFX. Similarly, the parking meters and
the snail car were real but helped along in post,’ adds Slim.
As open briefs are almost always harder to interpret and bring to life, the
director says: “the most challenging thing was deciding on which parts of the
little girl’s imagination to show. We had hundreds of ideas, so the hardest part
was whittling them down to what felt right for a girl in that time period, and
what was possible in terms of the budget and the timeframe.’
The music composed by Rich Aronson is a perfect accompaniment to the ad,
featuring vocals reminiscent of Satchmo’s gravelly sound and the way in which
he used his voice for expressive purposes. Shot in downtown Johannesburg
over three days, the ad was edited by Saki Bergh at Left Post Production,
Sinister Studios did the VFX and Sterling Sound was responsible for the audio
Adam Livesey and Matthew Brink were the executive creative directors, Mike
Groenewald was the creative director, Nico Botha was the copywriter and Nicola
Taylor was the art director.
Look closer next time you pass a public phone booth, an open manhole or rush
round the corner of building, and gaze back, a Muppet might just be stealing a
shy glance at you…