This Ad About Animals in Captivity Will Cast Your Lockdown Frustrations in a New Light

Aardman revisits its classic short "Creature Comforts," this time with audio from Brits in quarantine

Agency Engine created the video with Aardman Animations to support the Born Free Foundation. - Credit by Engine
Headshot of Sara Spary

LONDON—Engine, a London-based agency, has found a clever way to make captive animals relatable—by taking people’s frustrations about life in lockdown and putting their words into the mouths of caged, animated creatures.

Called “Creature Discomforts: Life in Lockdown” the ad, created for wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation, uses real interviews with people from during the height of Britain’s lockdown to highlight the plight of wild animals living in captivity.

Just as humans suffer when they have their liberty taken from them, so do animals, said the charity, which describes animals in captivity experiencing feelings of anxiety, loneliness and depression as well as a deterioration in physical health.

The interviewees, who were asked about lockdown frustrations, didn’t initially know their words would be used for an ad, giving their descriptions authenticity about their own experiences.


Animation studio Aardman, which created British movies including Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run, and the Oscar winning 1989 short Creature Comforts, created the animal characters, which bring to life parallels between the struggles faced by humans during lockdown and the struggles of animals in captivity.

The style of the spot pays homage to Creature Comforts, which has also inspired other advertising campaigns, including a 2015 PSA about the loneliness of elderly people created for a regional U.K. group called Bristol Ageing Better.

Here’s a look back at the original Creature Comforts:


CREDITS:
Client: Matt Smithers, head of marketing and fundraising, Born Free
Agency: Engine
Chief creative officer: Billy Faithfull
Creative directors: Steve Hawthorne & Katy Hopkins
Creatives: Pete Ioulianou & Ollie Agius
Agency producer: Laura Melville
Agency assistant producer: Henry Davies
Account handling: Owen Keating, Tom Butler
Social: Gemma Glover, Jack Cartwright
Production: Aardman Animations
Director: Peter Peake
Producer: Sami Goddard
Character design: Peter Peake
Animator: Jane Davies
Background design: James Grant
Sound design: Ben Leeves at Jungle
Compositor: Paule Quinton
Colorist: Paule Quinton
PR: Aisha Jefferson, Marie Larner and Olenka Lawrenson at Engine


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@saramayspary sara.spary@adweek.com Sara Spary is a freelance journalist based in London. She's been a reporter for eight years, covering advertising and consumer brands.