Can cities speed-date? According to the new SAA television commercial - they can. It shows people rotationally meeting each other, not as themselves, but as characterisations of each major South African city.
According to the creative team from Jupiter Drawing Room, who conceptualised the ad, the advert's reason for being is to bring a smile to the airline brand and to highlight the 700 plus flights each week to all of its major destinations. So far, the positive public response suggests it has achieved its first objective.
The fun concept was heightened by Fresh Eye Film Production director Jonathan Parkinson, who suggested casting the people in their own cities. He said to cast for a Capetonian in Johannesburg would mean they had already been influenced by Johannesburg. “They needed to be true archetypes of each city's personality to boost the authencity. Prefereably I wanted to cast people with no experience in front of a camera. Also, there was only a rough outline script for this advert, which made the correct casting even more crucial. The casting was a big part of this job and took a couple of weeks.”
“We encouraged everyone to act as themselves and discouraged them to get to know each other before the shoot. It was essential to capture the ‘awkwardness' of speed-dating.” But he says this put him under the whip as he had to catch their unrehearsed phrases on camera first time for fear of losing the credibility and realism.
Parkinson says this commercial was really a huge amount of fun to shoot. ”With the camera being the person on the other side of the table, it gave me a good representation of what speed-dating is actually like.”
The agency creative team Sergio Ines, Matthew Barnes and Liam Olding were generous in their praise of Parkinson, saying Jonathan's collaborative, easy going style makes him such a pleasure to work with. In fact, says Barnes, “He's a great performance director.”