Pharrell Williams is one of those do-it-all celebrities who don’t seem to get much sleep. Not only is he a Grammy-winning musician and producer, but he’s also managed to launch several clothing brands, design for Louis Vuitton, and appear in ads ranging from Revlon to Microsoft—just to name a few of his recent endeavors. Now, he’s lending his brand of cool to Smirnoff in the vodka company’s “Start Pure” ad campaign from Leo Burnett in Sydney, Australia.
“How you start is everything,” says the stoic Williams, standing in a white, spaceship-like room. “I start pure—with a blank canvas." (Apparently we’re supposed to equate mixing a cocktail with mixing a song; and vodka with . . . silence? Rhythm? Unclear.) First he adds a beat with a round of percussionists, then the “groove.” As Williams sleepily points, visions of instrumentalists spring up, filling the room. “Then, the vocals,” he commands, and the white space is transformed into a packed club, its imperturbable creator above, looking on calmly at the crowd.
“The most exciting thing for me is the purity of the blank canvas,” Williams says finally—although you’d never guess he’s excited about anything from his flat affect. I’ve often wondered about Williams’ status as spokesman extraordinaire given the fact that he doesn’t exactly come off as personable, rarely emoting anything beyond an air of untouchable cool—but that seems to be his appeal. And in an ad for ice-cold vodka, a “blank canvas” according to its maker, the role fits.
Agency: Leo Burnett, Sydney, Australia
Global Chief Creative Officer: Mark Tutssel
Chief Creative Officer: Andy DiLallo
Creative Director: Tim Green
Art Director: Chis Moreira
Copywriter: Mark Schoeller
Head of Client Services: Peter Bosilkovski
Business Director: Claire Kesby-Smith
Agency Producers: Rita Gagliardi, Tim Denton
Production Company: Curious Film
Director: Darryl Ward
Director of Photography: Christophe Lanzenberg
Producer: Tara Riddell
Executive Producer: Peter Grasse
Editor: Patrick Fileti
Grade/VFX: Cutting Edge
VFX Supervisor: Ron Roberts
Producer: Abby Buick
Creative Director: Brent Grayburn
Lead Compositor: Scott Geersen
Music Composition and Sound Design: Song Zu