How we made a TV ad in lockdown sort of by accident.
Harrowing. Unprecedented. The new normal. These are terms you have been brow beaten with over the last few months. In the Groundhog Day hamster wheel that is our daily routine, I bet when your alarm went off this morning you didn’t wake up aching to hear another agency think-piece about how brands should respond to Covid.
Our raison d’être as a company is to Make Something People Genuinely Like, and we’ve been continuing to do that through this, perhaps even more so than usual. We’ve been able to keep all the gang working due to deep relationships with clients who know that now is the perfect time for a little creativity and they look to us to help them with that.
We’ve been developing a suicide prevention campaign, coming up with a drinks brand strategy and even creating a big new finance product all remotely. But our deepest and most-trusted relationship with Innis & Gunn brought about a film that seems to have captured the imagination of the pint drinking public.
We are lucky enough to have a great relationship Innis & Gunn — this means we think of ideas for them all the time and work on their campaigns all year long. This hadn’t stopped due to Covid and it meant we were/are working on campaign work for one of their products.
The wonderfully creative Emma in our team had been working on ideas for that campaign and there was a beautifully written poem just randomly in there… ‘Remember pints’. I think it was a cry for help from Emma, something that she had written from the bottom of her soul. She was clearly missing pints and this beautiful script was a love letter to them.
The only problem was… what was it doing in the campaign deck? It didn’t really fit, but it was clearly good. Too good not to do something with. At Studio Something we don’t want to kill good ideas, we want to make them. So in a creative review, Auld Da Ian Greenhill suggested using it as a long-copy ad and buying the spaces on the hoardings of bars to help support the trade.
‘WE COULD DO A FILM!’ ‘YES!’ ‘WHEATPASTE POSTERS!’ ‘YES!’
Then we realised we had to do it quickly, so no fancy decks were made, we just pitched the idea with the script via our Slack channel with the I&G gang. And because they are good clients and see value in good ideas, they knew we had to do it.
BUT HOW DO WE MAKE IT WHEN WE CANNY GO OUTSIDE?
In stepped Julie, our Project Manager, to help make it real. Fun fact — Julie started in lockdown so has not met most of the team and hasn’t met any of the clients.
“Great news, Julie, Innis & Gunn are totally up for making the poem into a film” Ian called to say.
“Great news, yes” (yesss, yesss …arrrghhhhhhh), where to start…who to speak to first…
Firstly, we need to print the posters, but we also need to buy pots, wheat paste ingredients, buckets, hire a van, get a PERSON, keep them safe, keep EVERYONE safe, post them, obtain permissions, pray for good weather, find a delivery driver, a videographer, for both Glasgow and Edinburgh…and that was just phase one.
The guys at Studio Something have built up extraordinarily good relationships with all sorts of just, well, nice people, who seemed to come from nowhere to help make this happen (step up to the podium Ciaran Globel, Gavin White and Nicholas Afchain).
And happen it did. The posters went up and they were filmed (safely and with all distancing observed). This project would fall flat on its face if there was any complacency in social distancing rules, after all, we couldn’t talk about our longing for pints and pubs whilst flouting the very rules that would get us all there quicker. Even the weather played ball.
Box 1 ticked.
No time to sit back, we had to make a tv ad, get an editor booked, a sound guy and get a VO sorted, right now. Oh hello David Hunter and Callum Rankine, you absolute heroes (with patience levels to top any saints).
Not to mention media, and Clearcast (a quick turnaround on an alcohol ad?!)
All the while Innis & Gunn were quietly in the background letting us do our thing, whilst jumping on quick approvals and into meetings as we needed them to. As an FYI — this was their first foray into TV advertising, and at breakneck speed it could’ve spelled disaster. Instead, like in any good relationship, it flexed and supported, and came out stronger for it.
Editing a TV ad, grading, sound mixing, VO recording are stressful enough as everyone knows (add into the mix a project manager who had spent the last 3 years working in the design industry with its very visible lack of media plans, but who was brought, by the way, quickly and sharply up to speed in every sense of the word) never mind during a lockdown. We thank God for the wonderful Maeve, who answered our calls on the first ring, and didn’t even sound like her eyes were rolling at us calling again.
Never has humankind been more grateful to technology that lets you actually see faces, and a team of people around them that made the whole experience joyful (no joke).
IF IT DOESN’T GO ON SOCIAL MEDIA DID IT EVEN HAPPEN?
Our content strategist Rob oversaw the pint remembering bonanza on the socials, and it all started with the simple two words that kicked this campaign off. Other than the fantastic finished film itself, the opening posts garnered the most interest from Innis & Gunn’s thirsty fans, and it simply read: “Remember Pints?” No image, no emojis, no links, no spend. Just a question that provoked reaction from so many people out there that can’t wait for a funny looking glass full of delicious Lager.
With that seed sown, and a huge reaction from the social fanbase, we motored forward with the messaging for the film itself. It’s a pull on the heartstrings, yes, but more importantly it’s a way of Innis & Gunn showing their support for the inner walls of amazing pint-fuelled memories. The copy had to be concise enough that it was digestible, but also full enough that it told the story behind the film. Is 280 characters enough to tell such a story? As it turns out, it is! Just. Like, only just. We launched simultaneously on all of our key platforms — Instagram, Facebook and Twitter — and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. It received a share from the pub landlord himself, large funnyman Al Murray, as well as chiming heartily with the desired audience; the drinkers. Heartstrings had been yanked, memories had been shared, pubs had been recognised and tears had been shed (probably). Now the video had done its talking, it was time for the fans to do theirs.
If a brand asked you to write a love letter to some buildings you miss, would you do it? The answer is probably “maybe, aye?”. The generosity of our favourite beer people knows few bounds, so an incentivised writing competition was born. The call to action was simple; we’ve written a love letter to pints, now we invite you to write a love letter to pubs. The overarching theme of this campaign is to provide support to pubs so they return seamlessly as soon as possible — Innis & Gunn have taken care of providing the beer, now it was the drinkers’ turn to provide some emotional support. Poems aplenty flooded into the replies on social media, totalling at over 70 original odes written to various pubs, pints and memories. The best of these received some free Lager to tide them over (aforementioned generosity) and there’s another special prize waiting for the best of the best in the weeks to come; a legacy for this campaign to live on even further than the Covid enforced lockdown restraints that have scunnered every sesh imaginable. The key role of social in all of this has been engaging the fans — be that fans of Innis & Gunn or just beer fans generally. Now we’ve worked up the thirst, all we can do is tide folk over until the real thing becomes normal again.