ARRI Alexa captures new VW Polo TVC

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The new Volkswagen Polo is considered one of the larger cars in its division, packed with class and comfort, it’s no wonder it comes with a friendly warning: beware the confidence.

Titled Red Flashy Thingy, the spot for the new Polo was conceptualised by Ogilvy Cape Town and directed by Greg Gray from Romance Films. “We were approached by Ogilvy Cape Town to treat on the project, and luckily everyone was on board with our creative approach,” shares Gray.

Narrated by Bob Dunsworth, the ad is built on exaggerated scenarios of an intern’s first day in the office, which spirals out of control as a result of mistaken identity when he confidently parks his new VW Polo in a reserved parking space. Sne Dladla plays the lead role of a confident, confused saviour to wailing CEOs, hopeless scientists, and a doomed space programme with one big ‘red flashy thingy’.

Casting for the commercial took place in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. Cheryl Battersby from Cape Town-based The Batt House cast Dladla as the leading man. “Casting for a commercial of this scale with so many comedic roles is a process we don’t like to rush. All in all, it takes about four weeks which also allowed me to meet all the talent and complete callbacks to narrow down the options. It also gave me the opportunity to ascertain how well the actors take direction as well as an indication of their range and what they can bring to the role,” shares Gray.

Director of Photography, Rory O’Grady shot the spot using the Arri Alexa camera. Gray says that the visual, physical nature of the comedy demanded a considered approach: “…we felt the story would benefit from a carefully crafted, coherent visual identity that clearly defined the world the story takes place in. The way something can be funny or humorous by just looking at it, purely because of composition or juxtaposition. We wanted the camera language to help establish the desired tone and accentuate the characters and performances.”

Shot over five days in Cape Town, the complete shoot consisted of interior and exterior shots at an office park; while the indoor scenes were done on schedule and as planned, the outdoor scenes had to be extended and shot over a weekend to avoid disrupting the busy parking lot during office hours. The final day of shooting took place at a studio for the rocket and space station interior scenes.

Ricky Boyd of Deliverance Post Production took care of editing and other post-production duties, while CGI and Online were handled by Bladeworks and Chocolate Tribe: “There was a large CGI component, that included the creation of the rocket and space station interior,” explains Gray, “set built shells were created as a construct for the physical performance to take place in, but all the interior detail was created from scratch in CGI.”

In South Africa, the Volkswagen brand has earned the respect of many car lovers, with the 2010 VW Polo hatch being the second best-selling car in the country thus far. The new VW Polo spot launches the sixth-generation of Polo’s that are longer, wider and lower, ranging from R235 900 to R302 200 in price. The new Polo comes in three models – the Trendline, Comfortline and Highline, and will be followed by the GTI performance version during the course of the year.

Since the ad’s launch early this year, the TV commercial has garnered great interest and reviews including being the only non-Super Bowl spot to earn a place on Best Ads on TV’s top six for the week, in early February. The spot has also been selected as the Editor’s Pick in Ad Age’s Creativity Online section, with editor Alexandra Jardine noting how VW takes a leaf out of the DirecTV book of comic advertising.

Gray comments: “We really wanted to do this strong, hilarious idea justice by creating something that was impressive and impactful on every level. We were always mindful that at the heart of this commercial lay a clever insight that builds on the unique reputation the VW Polo brand has garnered over the years, as a car that punches above its weight.”

TECH CHECK

EQUIPMENT

Camera: Arri Alexa

KEY CREW:

Producer: Helena Woodfine

Director: Greg Gray

DOP: Rory O’Grady

Editor: Ricky Boyd

Sound: Louise Enslin

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Gezzy S Sibisi
Gezzy S. Sibisi is a senior journalist at Screen Africa. She is experienced in print, broadcast and digital media. Her portfolio of work includes working as a lifestyle reporter as well as contributing business and education articles to The Times, Sowetan, and Daily Dispatch publications. As a freelancer, she has worked on content development for corporate newsletters, community newspapers, blogs and educational websites.

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