Advertisers love animation
30 juni 2008
What do brands like telecommunication giant Belgacom, commercial radio station Q-Music and Super Lotto (the Belgian National Lottery) have in common?
The answer is quite simple: they all like to communicate their message by means of animated commercials. Animation producers are happy with these assignments and thrive on longer term cooperations that help them keep financially stable without selling out on their own mission statements. Although animation in commercials is rather popular in recent years, it is not really a new thing. Luc Van Driessche from Creative Conspiracy in Ghent has quite a lot of experience in this area: 'We make commercials on a regular base: for Spa mineral waters, as well as for radio stations such as for Radio 1, for Q-Music... But it is not our core business. Most of the time we are involved in much bigger productions. Last year we 20 percent of our capacity was devoted to commercials, this year it will be only around 10 percent. We even have been able to select the most interesting projects that we came across. So far we have not been very active to present ourselves as commercial makers, but we plan to do so in future in order to be able to stay selective.' For animation studio Walking the Dog, based in Brussels, commercials count for about 30 percent of their activity. Belgacom is their main customer. 'We are very pleased with this assignment', says Frédéric Dirickx, production assistant at WTD. 'We made about six commercials for them now, always with the same little robot, but with a different theme. We only participate in a project if it is about character animation, it should be more or less fun and a bit of a challenge. ' Spot Belgacom / Made in Brussels - SOIL - Walking the Dog For Beast Animation, also based in Brussels, commercials are rather important, although they only started making them in December 2006. 'For us, the opportunity to work on a Super Lotto commercial came at the right time', says Pilar Torres Villodre from Beast. 'We had just experienced a setback due to the postponing of the production of A Town Called Panic, so frankly we had nothing planned to do at that time. In two weeks time, we prepared everything: a whole matryoshka miniature village, little characters, etc. Both the agency and the customer were very pleased. So they decided to keep on working with us. Now we aim at making three to four commercials a year. It has become quite an important part of our business plan.' 'On an international level, animation has indeed grown quite popular in advertising in recent years', says Anne Gruszow of advertising agency Lowe, who contacted Beast for the Super Lotto commercial. 'The Sony Bravia clip is a good example. People just love it. When possible, I would suggest it to other customers but it is totally dependent of the idea for the commercial itself. In the case of Super Lotto, the choice for animation grew out of the idea to use a set of matryoshka puppets.' Working for advertising requires a somewhat different approach the animation producers. 'It involves more stress', says Frédéric Dirickx, 'because the deadlines are very tight. The creative exchange between the animation studio, the agency and the client is very intense'. According to Luc Van Driessche, the input of the animators regarding the content is rather limited: 'The advertising agency, the customer, in our case also the producer of the live action part, they all want to have their say', according to Van Driessche. 'So that leaves us with very little leeway. There are exceptions, of course. But there is another advantage linked to this kind of assignments: sometimes we are asked to things we haven't technically done before so they tend to help us gather useful experience for our longer term projects'. In the case of Super Lotto, directors Ben Tesseur and Steven De Beul have little say in the storyline, but their creative freedom lies in the look and feel of the commercial. They can decide on the atmosphere and the humour involved. 'It is a question of mutual trust', says Pilar Torres Villodre. 'After making five commercials for the same agency and the same customer, you are able to work like that. I remember them calling very regularly when we shot the first commercial. Now they know they can rely on us.' Beast Animation - Super LottoStriking commercials are good reference material for animation producers. And not only in terms of business, as Torres Villodre points out: 'At Beast, we want to help create a slightly different image for stop motion animation. There is more to it than Wallace & Gromit and Tim Burton. We think it is important to show that, also by means of ads. But if we think that stop motion is not the best way for a commercial we will surely be very clear about it.' Recently, Beast even hired a PR professional to inform the press about their Super Lotto commercials. 'That has brought about a lot of attention. Lots of agencies read about it in the newspapers and some of them contacted us with business proposals.' So in the end, it might be the animation studio itself winning the jackpot in the National Lottery... Links Creative Conspiracy: http://www.creative.be/ Walking the Dog: http://www.walkingthedog.be/ Beast Animation: http://www.beastanimation.be/