IDEA: TV commercials frozen in time, with a camera moving through and surveying the scene, have an undeniable charm and style. Even the horror of Philips' ultra-violent "Carousel" spot was rendered beautiful that way.
Now, we have an ad from Italy that's much smaller and quieter but in some ways no less magical—a journey in a single take through the stillness of a family living room, where some sort of accident has apparently taken place. By the end, though, we realize the overturned car and splayed-out child are victims of a benevolent force—the soporific powers of Sognid'oro chamomile tea.
Not surprisingly, the idea didn't come from a TV script at all. "It was for a print campaign, which will run very soon," said Emanuele Viora, creative director at DLV BBDO. "But we thought that with the right director, we could have a perfect little film on our hands."
COPYWRITING: The camera turns a corner, revealing an overturned houseplant with tiny tire tracks in the earth. Following the trail, we see a little blue robot squirming on its back, then more overturned toys. In the living room, we find the cause of the chaos—a child's car flipped over and smoking with one lonely wheel spinning, and the boy and his teddy bear thrown to the ground.
But as the camera moves past, the story changes. The smoke is revealed to be steam coming from a humidifier, and the boy isn't hurt but simply asleep. The camera moves to a table, where a cup of chamomile tea has been poured, next to a package of Sognid'oro.
"Don't drink and drive," says the on-screen copy.
It seems the boy has been given some tea before bed, and as planned, it's knocked him out.
The script was less about what the ad would say, Viora said, and more about how it would feel. "It's more like a fairy tale than a track along a series of objects," he said.
ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Igor Borghi shot 15 takes and got three good ones. The camera move doesn't reference any shot from TV or the movies, but is simply meant to be "warm, soft and embracing," said Viora.
"We had to make clear in just a few seconds that the child is sleeping blissfully and that there is no discomfort of any kind. The frame in which we finally see his face was the key to the whole film: It's here that the viewer switches his view of the scene from 'accident' to 'cuddling.'"
The 45-second shot was filmed on an Alexa camera mounted on a Steadicam.
TALENT: The agency held a casting session for 3- and 4-year-olds who were used to cameras being present. "The child had to communicate tenderness, but at the same time would look like a bit of a scamp even while sleeping," said Viora.
They had the kids pretend to sleep, but for the shoot they wanted the real thing. "The child was used to taking his afternoon nap," Viora said. "So having him lie still in the shot was not that difficult—he was actually sleeping. In fact, the very soft snoring on the soundtrack was recorded on the set with an iPhone."
SOUND: The soundtrack, "Music Box Waltz" by Leo Chadburn, was "something that said 'lullaby' but would also create an enchanting atmosphere from the very start," said Viora.
MEDIA: Not a big spender, Sognid'oro is running the spot on the Discovery Italia network and online.
The agency was concerned at first that this take on "Don't drink and drive" might be seen as flippant, but Viora said, "We haven't received any comment that hasn't been entirely complimentary."
Agency: DLV BBDO, Milan, Italy
Executive Creative Director: Stefania Siani, Federico Pepe
Creative Director: Andrea Jaccarino, Emanuele Viora
Art Directors: Andrea Jaccarino, Federico Pepe
Copywriter: Emanuele Viora
Account: Ilaria Castiglioni
Production Company: Filmgood
Director: Igor Borghi
DOP: Gigi Martinucci
Executive Producer: Emanuela Cavazzini
Producer: Stefano Renolfi
Postproduction: Anteprima Video
Music: "Music Box Waltz" by Leo Chadburn, EMI Music Publishing