Samsung Made a 66-Minute Arthouse Film About Clothes Going Around in Its Washing Machine

Movie, scored by Michael Nyman, follows hypnotic 3-minute TV ad

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Inspired by ASMR and slow TV, advertising is coming around to the idea that boring content might not be that boring after all.

We saw this with Ikea’s awesomely tedious preroll ads. And now we can Samsung to the list of brands that are turning unremarkable footage into something bordering on mesmerizing.

Samsung U.K. has made a 66-minute film all about the family wash cycle on its QuickDrive washing machine. That’s right—it’s a whole hourlong film about clothing going around and around while you watch.

But there’s more to the film, which is simply called Washing Machine, than just the monotonous if hypnotic visuals. Samsung commissioned Michael Nyman, who has scored dozens of mainstream and arthouse movies (including Oscar winner The Piano) to compose the soundtrack. This helps “turn the everyday drudge of the washing machine cycle into art,” according to Samsung.

The film doesn’t premiere until Dec. 5 at Leicester Square’s Cineworld Theatre, or Dec. 6 on YouTube. But Samsung has delivered a teaser of sorts. On Nov. 24, it aired a three minute and 20 second spot on Britain’s Channel 4—again, just showing a QuickDrive wash cycle.

The single-shot spot aired during a complete ad-break takeover during the popular show Gogglebox. Check it out here:

As the ad explains, British people spend an average of 1,481 hours (or 61 days) of their lives watching the washing go around and around. The Samsung QuickDrive can cut that time in half—which is good, because not all laundry watching is accompanied by a dazzling piano score.

The campaign was dreamed up by London agency Taylor Herring (which once upon a time did one of our favorite out-of-home ads—the giant dragon skull that washed up on the beach for Game of Thrones). Peter Mountstevens, managing partner at Taylor Herring—who directed both the ad and the movie—told us a bit about how the idea came about.

“Our key challenge was to make a domestic appliance entertaining. We wanted to make a virtue of the perceived ‘boring’ nature of doing the laundry by showcasing the ‘performance’ and speed of the machine in a newsworthy and engaging way,” he says.

Soon, the landed on the idea of promoting the fastest Samsung washing machine ever made via the medium of slow TV and film.

For the TV spot, Taylor Herring worked with media buying agency Starcom and Channel 4, known for its innovative ad breaks. “Channel 4 were incredibly receptive to the idea and loved the creative,” Mountstevens says. “We worked with their in-house creative team to devise a 10-second bespoke animated intro to the ad which would segue directly from the [Gogglebox] show to the commercial.”

The spot delivered the first organic social trend for a domestic appliance ever in the U.K., Mountstevens adds, delivering 6 million earned impressions. Also, the movie trailer has been viewed 1 million times in three days.

See the trailer here:

So, what can we expect from the film itself? Here’s what Samsung has to say:

The film chronicles the full cycle, moment by moment, of Samsung’s QuickDrive washing machine, in this big screen addition to the canon of slow cinema treats. The production team captured the action with a single long shot trained on the machine to bring the full glory of the wash, rinse and spin to the screen. Samsung believes that cinema audiences, who have in recent years become accustomed to unusual experiences such as live relays of theatre, rock concerts and opera, or simulcasts of TV premieres, will be able to break new ground with the release.

The piano-led 66 minute soundtrack features one of Michael Nyman’s signature minimalist compositions, driven by an explorative melody which takes the audience on a passage through the various stages of the wash cycle. The repetitive motion of the spinning drum is melodically represented through Nyman’s masterful playing, with thematic ideas developing as the wash progresses.

Nyman himself is willing to talk in grandiose terms about the project. “By coincidence, this new work comes exactly 300 years after the 1717 premiere of another celebrated composition inspired by the flow of water—German-British composer George Frideric Handel’s Water Music,” he says. “So, in some ways, we have come full circle with Washing Machine—The Movie.”

Finally, here’s a behind-the-scenes video with Nyman:

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.
Publish date: November 29, 2017 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT