We all know the familiar dread of Christmas shopping - the jammed parking lots, the impossible crowds, the interminable queues and the unhelpful sales people. When some wise soul coined the phrase 'It's a jungle out there', they were undoubtedly talking about shopping malls during the Christmas rush. And it was this well-known saying that provided the unique starting point for bidorbuy's first television commercial.
'bidorbuy came to us with a very clear brief,' says Francois Boshoff, Creative Director at Volcano Advertising, the agency who conceptualised the advertisement. "Quite simply, they wanted a television commercial that would stand out from the clutter on our screens and make people talk. They also wanted to communicate a strong message that, as the country's largest online marketplace for both new and second-hand goods, bidorbuy provides the ideal solution for the shopping mall weary when it comes to buying Christmas gifts."
The bidorbuy commercial follows a young couple as they navigate their way through a busy shopping centre, having one unpleasant experience after another. There is an intriguing twist, however - instead of being filled with crowds of people, the shopping mall is teeming with herds of animals, such as elephants, giraffes, warthogs, ostriches and even a fully grown tiger.
"Our concept for the advertisement was 'it's a jungle out there', turning a literal association into reality," explains Boshoff. "Seeing as the Christmas shopping experience seems to bring out our most primitive natures, we thought it would be apt to use animals to personify human stereotypes. For example, the commercial shows hyenas fighting over a handbag as if it were a kill, a monkey that is irritable, bad-tempered and a general nuisance, and a gorilla that has a very lackadaisical attitude to customer service to say the least."
Although the concept for the bidorbuy television commercial was simple, the execution obviously presented many challenges. It required a mix of disciplines, from live footage to green screen shots, from puppets to animatronics and animation. The key here, of course, was collaborating with a team of talented individuals. Well known production house Egg Films was brought in to shoot the live footage, with Slim at the Director's helm. "We were very excited when we heard Volcano's concept for the ad, although our initial reaction was that it couldn't be done," says Slim. "But it presented such an awesome opportunity, and the Volcano team was very determined to make it happen, so we were up to the challenge."
The shoot took place over three days. For the shopping centre footage, Egg's art department recreated an unused section of Bel Air Mall in Northriding, complete with a Thai Restaurant, Wedding Boutique, gift and adventure shop as well as an optometrist. Many of the scenes at the shopping centre were shot against a green screen so that the animal footage could be added later. The shopping mall scenes also included animatronic characters, such as a gorilla, a vervet monkey and a hippo, that were pre-built by CFX Productions. The live animal scenes were shot on location at Brooker's Farm in Broederstroom, near Johannesburg, where Volcano worked with expert animal handlers and trainers to ensure that the animals were well looked after.
The bidorbuy commercial then went into post-production where Christian van der Walt's expert team at Sinister Studios had the epic task of compositing all of the shot elements into the finished product. Their greatest challenge, says van der Walt, was getting the viewer to believe that the animals were really at the mall and not shot in their natural habitat. "We achieved this largely through a new technology which allows enhanced shadows. This is especially important when you shoot in an exterior environment, in the case of the live animal footage, and need to give the impression that the animals are, in fact, indoors."
The end result is a testament not only to the power of teamwork, but to what can be achieved if you believe in an idea. "bidorbuy loved our concept because it was simple yet completely engaging. We were also lucky to have a client who was very open to us pushing the envelope and trusted us to deliver an advertisement that breaks through the clutter, appeals to a broad target market and communicates that bidorbuy is a simple, convenient and stress-free shopping alternative to malls."
bidorbuy agrees with this assessment. Says Jaco Jonker - bidorbuy CEO, "Volcano and their partners have produced a commercial that is everything bidorbuy stands for - a fun, friendly, safe and reliable online marketplace which empowers both buyers and sellers."
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