“On the initial idea behind the campaign,” says Brad, “the commercial focuses on the power of the five million strong Cell C network and how Cell C is able to effect positive change in South Africa. Boasting countrywide coverage has become a common platform for all the mobile networks. But we're changing the paradigm. We're turning Cell C's far-reaching coverage into more than just technical nuts and bolts. We're using it to mobilise the network to become an active network for change.”
And mobilise is a good word to describe what Producer Nicci Cox had to do to find and shoot hundreds of Cell C subscribers in over 40 scenarios in two cities with less than three weeks prep! “I loved the process,” says Greg, “it was a crazy rush, and we had to sprint to the finish line. This kind of pressure is about going more on gut than logic, and can often lead to more instinctual and emotive work. We had to make decisions on the hop, so the usual PPM and approvals process went out the window - we teamed up to work together in a collaborative way.”
Greg was excited from the beginning, as the ad offered him the opportunity to work unconventionally, in a fluid, less product-focused way. “At the start, the technique was a mosaic of people talking into camera. The script had a fable feel, so we started off like a storybook and came up with the idea of each person holding a book, and on pull back revealed how much bigger the network is than each individual person. For authenticity, the agency and clients insisted we use real Cell C subscribers as cast members. Although this added challenges, I saw how by pulling all these people together, we could create beautiful visual imagery.”
Greg worked with Black Ginger to pull the live action in-camera elements together to create an end animation sequence that would symbolise the power of the network working together. A special effects colleague of Hilton's was flown in from Canada to lead the technically challenging aspects of the film, and a program was written specifically for the animation sequence. “To achieve the look and feel of the animation, we decided on a colour palette of 27 colours,” says Greg, “then we printed handmade books with that spectrum of colours in it. The animation design then maintained the same style and tone throughout. For our lightbulb shot, we worked out a grid system that included 625 individual shots, and then a colleague, ‘the grid-master' helped plan the 625 individual shots for the lightbulb sequence. Each pixel - which is in fact a single book - was choreographed to turn from one colour to the next by whoever was turning the pages in the shot.
“The end animation was crazy,” says Greg. “It came together in the last two days, in post. I was working towards this invisible goal, but it was just truly amazing to see it come together. And working with Black Ginger was great.”
“Although we chose Greg because he is shorter than the Art Director,” says Brad, “we loved that Greg got as excited about the project as we did. He brought creative solutions to the table and took the project on with inexhaustible energy and crafting. He really rolled up his sleeves on the job. Though we had to ask him to put them back down - his arms are hideously hairy.”
There's more to come too, more ads focusing on specific and relevant change that Cell C's network numbers can effect together.