SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: It is 5pm after a long day at work and the routine task of travelling home in peak hour traffic leaves one feeling even more exhausted. If only we could escape the ordinary and set out on a journey so unusual and refreshing, that it feels utterly enchanting.
‘Undeniably peculiar, utterly delicious’ is the tagline for the new Hendrick’s Gin spot – a phrase that Cape Town-based animation studio Tulips and Chimneys brought to life in a visual fantasy that embodies Victorian surrealism and dreams.
Director Ree Treweek and her team have been great admirers of the Hendrick’s Gin brand aesthetic over the years and being approached by their company’s UK representatives, Strange Beast, to pitch on the campaign was an exciting opportunity and a great achievement for the Tulips and Chimneys brand.
“When we first started our company one of our first goals was to craft a campaign for Hendrick’s Gin as we’ve long been admirers of their Victoriana Surrealist aesthetic which is so aligned with our own style and creative ambitions. You can imagine how delighted we were when our representatives in the UK approached us to pitch on the campaign,” says Treweek.
After a successful pitch, Tulips and Chimneys worked with American creative agency Quaker City Mercantile (QCM), to create the animated spot for the Scottish brand. The team brainstormed a few ideas which led to the conceptualisation of the spot’s main theme of Escape – an invitation to escape the conventional and embrace the delectable.
“The client wanted us to depict how a mundane necessity like commuting could become a fantastic adventure should you go against the stream and approach it in a different way. This concept was so much fun to work with and since the Hendrick’s brand lives in such a surreal space we really had a lot of freedom in terms of how we wanted to tell this story,” explains Treweek.
The team reworked Hendrick’s existing animated material which is rooted in Victorian surrealism and 2D animation. “Hendrick’s existing animated material, is beautifully designed, and relies on a particular 2D cut out technique. We decided to work with that and enhance it by incorporating a greater sense of depth between layers so that we can move through space. We focused on producing bespoke 2D animation, rather than puppeteering still images, which differentiated it slightly from previous spots. The combination of all of this with atmospherics and beautifully composited lighting really pushed the mystery and mood of the spot,” Treweek explains. “When compositing, we added a subtle grain to the film. An overall colour grade using muted blue tones, red highlights and green shadows gave the film a vintage look. We made use of vignettes, dust and scratches, film burn, light leaks and other imperfections common in old film stock. Making use of the depth of field added a ‘real world’ feeling to our shots, and helped us to create a seemingly limitless Hendrick’s environment.”
Two main characters stand out in the spot – a gentleman and lady who both make a great transformation during their journey. We follow their journey home, which turns out to be quite the adventure as the different creatures they meet along the way bring wonder, surprise and great delight. “It was important that our two hero characters stood out against the other commuters, so we spent a lot of time crafting the moment when they shed their ‘work skins’. I love the colouring of our heroine and the string of butterflies that pull her along. They were animated in such a way that they had some interaction with other commuters,” Treweek says. “In our brainstorms we also wanted the environments and architecture to be characters in the spot… You’ll notice a building that behaves as a clock while others behave as pistons, our lead characters are swallowed by their homes, an alligator and a swordfish. We wanted to add subtle surprises that the viewer would only see on repeat viewing.”
Throughout the journey the lead characters follow a mischievous winged Hendrick’s bottle, bringing the two main ingredients, roses and cucumber into the mix. “We weaved their leading botanicals; roses and cucumbers into our designs in such a way that they complimented the environments and the personalities of our characters. We liked the idea that the botanical elements can also be portrayed in such a way that they have personality: a cucumber for instance is dressed in a suit and hops through our cityscape,” explains Treweek.
The Escape Hendrick’s Gin ad first aired in early May and has received rave reviews from leading commercial review sites including Ads of the World, Best Ads on TV and Adeeve to name a few. The spot can be viewed on YouTube, Vimeo and on the Tulips and Chimneys website.