Press release from Well Above and Engine
When The Brand Shop were last on The Gruen Transfer they were tasked with making plastic bags popular again as part of the shows ‘The Pitch’ segment. “That was scary enough,” said The Brand Shop’s Creative Director Monty Noble, “This time they took things to a whole new level and asked us to create a spot to sell bottled urine.”
According to Noble being on The Gruen Transfer is more than just a creative exercise. He said, “Believe it or not it really makes the whole team perform and galvanises the agency. It also brings advertising into the limelight, helping people understand exactly what we do.”
Unbeknownst to the viewing audience the agencies are given two weeks to come up with the TVC from scratch after taking the brief. Noble explained, “We did lots of brainstorming and research on selling the unsellable looking for a positive spin. Everyone in the agency was encouraged to put in ideas and suggest anything that might be relevant. It’s amazing what comes out of this process – for example did you know that Ghandi drank his own urine or that a plan is in place to sell sacred cows’ urine in India? With all the ideas and research on the table Taz Bearham, our Head of Planning, then moderated a session to identify attitudes, possible targets and a product name.”
Typically The Brand Shop went through their usual process of comprehensive due diligence which characteristically uncovered some key issues. “The main ones were how we could get around the stigmas of colour, taste and smell. We decided that the best route was a nature’s medicine approach – like a Royal Jelly tonic or wheatgrass shot. Before these were discovered the prospect wasn’t really that palatable but when people found out how good they were for them they began to be perceived very differently. Then we looked at where the urine would come from, Tibetan monks and other pure vegetarians from the Himalayas were considered before we settled on nature’s pharmacy – the Amazonian Rainforest, renowned home of natural disease killers and health enhancers. We could see an angle that would appeal to young women and health conscious males, just like V or Vitamin Water does. All we needed was the perfect animal and what’s more perfect than a butterfly?”
After immersing themselves into the urinary habits of butterflies The Brand Shop found what Noble calls ‘the money shot’. “It was of a butterfly in a Brazilian wildlife sanctuary squirting a clear urine. Brilliant. We then finalised the scripts, had an interesting angle and the most divine species – which only feeds on nectar and delicate plants – producing the most natural excretion to be sold. All we needed now was a name and a tagline and we came up with ‘Sweet Pee. Nature’s Number 1’. After avoiding all the other obvious puns we thought we’d take the piss with this one.”
At that point Noble and his team contacted Engine’s Executive Producer Adam Wells to discuss how the facility could help with the spot.
Noble continued, “We needed a facility with a great team who could help us put all of this together and make it interesting enough for family television. Engine were ideal and we immediately got to work with Adam, Producers Emilia Peacocke and Hayley Houlton and Compositor and Editor Brendon Killen. We collated some live footage and stock shots with Engine helping us get all our clearances. Then we went to the Australian Wildlife World butterfly enclosure to shoot some additional footage and although the lenses got a bit foggy due to the humidity, the butterflies’ wranglers helped us get some great images which included a butterfly actually resting on the pack shot.”
With all the material in place Engine went into overdrive. Executive Producer Adam Wells explained, “There really wasn’t a great deal of time to put the whole spot together. We had to match the footage shot in the Australian Wildlife World butterfly enclosure to stock footage of the real Amazonian rainforest adding in authentic foliage, put the label on the bottle and the pack shot on location in the jungle. As you can imagine the compositing and editing were really tricky.”
Monty Noble agreed, “The real sucker punch with this spot is the careful structure of the gag reveal. Get that right and you’ve nailed it, come in too early and you’ve given it away to the audience. Engine really helped finesse the creative in this way.”
Compositor and Editor Brendon Killen added, “We used Final Cut Pro to edit and After Effects for compositing. The key to the editing was to communicate the joke not solely with the cut. It was all about the lead up, building pace and rhythm to then nail the reveal. We chose specific footage to make this work most effectively and when compositing deliberately tried to throw the audience off the scent. When you’re watching the spot it looks like the liquid is distilled from flowers and forest fauna, which we carefully comped in, until the gradual introduction of the butterfly.”
Monty Noble had one more surprise up his sleeve. He said, “For an entire week most people who saw the spot thought that the voiceover was done by Jeremy Irons. In fact it was Lee Perry doing an impersonation and it was so good we let people believe it for that bit longer. Engine then helped us get the final cut locked off and the job was done. The Engine team were excellent throughout the entire project. They were very passionate about getting the spot exactly right and nothing was done under sufferance. They are terrific – real professionals with real talent and I’m very much looking forward to working with them on another TVC soon.”
The Brand Shop’s Sweet Pee – Nature’s Number 1 TVC aired on ABC1’s The Gruen Transfer on 14 July 2010 and won ‘The Pitch’.
To see the Sweet Pee – Nature’s Number 1 TVC go to: