Carling Black Label is the best-selling and most awarded beer in South Africa.
Conceptualised by Ogilvy Cape Town, the innovative campaign allows fans to be more involved than usual in the upcoming Kaizer Chiefs - Orlando Pirates Carling Black Label Cup Final: they can help select the team.
Creative director Jonathan Lang says, "Working with Ian and the Platypus team is always such a delight and an amazing experience. Once again Ian made the impossible more than possible. We shot on the other end of the earth. We shot in sub-zero temperatures. We shot three commercials in one day, with scale and high production values. We got more than needed and then some, all in record time."
Ruud Gullit, twice World Footballer of the year and now coach of FC Terek Grozny in Russia, is the champion of this champion beer.
This made the job particularly appealing for Ian, a soccer fanatic who flew to Wembley in May 2011 to watch his team, Stoke City, appear in their first FA Cup final, which they ultimately lost to Manchester City 0-1.
"I'm a big football fan so it was cool to meet Ruud," says Ian. "He's one of the top footballers of all time."
Creatively the biggest challenge was to get a performance out of a non-actor. Ian says, "In this ad, Ruud speaks from start to finish, so he has to engage you. We could have used autocue or cue boards, but I wanted him to do it the hard way - to memorise the lines before each take. We had three spots to do in a freezing, ten-hour day, so I was worried about keeping his energy levels up for 10 hours, but he just kept getting better as the day went on."
Ogilvy was particularly happy with Ruud's performance. "We shot with an international soccer legend and Ian got a world-class performance out of him," says Jono.
From a Production perspective the initial challenge for Platypus was fitting into Ruud's calendar: the shoot was penciled for Amsterdam in The Netherlands, then Prague in The Czech Republic, then Amsterdam again, before finally shooting in Moscow. "We hadn't shot in any of those cities before and didn't have a lot of time to prepare but his dates kept shifting," said executive producer Diana Keam.
Ian, Diana and DOP Trevor Brown travelled to Moscow, where they shot with AC Productions.
Despite the freezing conditions, Diana says one of the biggest challenges was the language barrier; essentially the AD was one of the few people who spoke English and she acted as a translator with all departments.
Ian says the language barrier didn't bother him at all. "At Platypus, we have a history of travelling and shooting around the world - India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, the list goes on and on... So I'm used to working with in foreign environments with all the idiosyncrasies that you find in different places."
Diana "absolutely loved" Moscow. "We stayed in the old city, which is full of fantastic architecture," she says. "We saw the Red Square, The Kremlin, the underground and a lot of churches. It's just so old and has been through so many epochs - you can see the different layers of history in the architecture."
Ian agrees. "I love travelling. Paris is old but spotless; Russia is old but full of character and texture. There's such a sense of history and Moscow is an incredibly interesting city."
Back in South Africa, Platypus shot the football crowd reactions in Johannesburg, using real Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates fans. "We used stock footage for the soccer itself, but stock can't give you the same energy and authenticity when it comes to the fans," Ian says. The creative challenge was then to seamlessly combine footage shot in two very different countries with the stock shots.
Ogilvy is ecstatic about the final product, which started flighting on 23 May 2011. Watch out for the second and third commercials later in the year. ABOUT PLATYPUS PRODUCTIONS
Founded in 1992, Platypus Productions is one of most established commercial production companies in South Africa, but is enjoying a new lease on life since their Vodafone Zoozoo campaign became a global phenomenon.
Representing directors Ian Chuter, Prakash Varma, Vicci Turpin, Michael Buckley, Fiona Macpherson and Renee van Reenen, Platypus offers a full-service creative solution for any board, from production to postproduction.