IDEA: The Internet of Things—or as Cisco calls it, "the Internet of everything"—is quickly advancing, as seen in the array of magically interconnected devices at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. (Teddy bear that checks your kid's vitals as she sleeps? Check.) But how to dramatize that in a TV spot?
The ad itself should be magical and interconnected, Cisco reasoned, and offer a glimpse of a near future that, in fact, is almost the present day. "It's here, it's now, it's happening," said Jon Randazzo, creative director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. "It's not sci-fi anymore. It's upon us."
The company's new 60-second spot delightfully surveys this new landscape through the story of a near-future family man and his ordinary day—a simple today-meets-tomorrow tale that, like the brave new world it depicts, comes full circle.
COPYWRITING: A girl at home pours milk for her cat, setting in motion a chain of events that a male voiceover describes in single, nursery rhyme-like sentence (in the style of "This Is the House That Jack Built") that lasts for the whole ad.
"This is the cat that drank the milk," he begins, "and let in the dog that jumped on the woman who brewed the coffee that woke the man who was late for work and drove the car that found the parking spot that alerted the door that opened the control room that secured the data that directed the turbines that powered the sprinklers that watered the grass that fed the cow that made the milk that went to the store that reminded the man to buy the milk that was poured by the girl who loved the cat that drank the milk."
Each phrase is its own scene, featuring meow-activated cat flaps, driverless cars and instantly responsive farm-to-fridge supply chains. "One way to show really simply that everything is connected is to tell a story that loops back to itself," said GSP creative director Justin Moore. "You find that kind of narrative structure in children's books. The task for us was to apply it differently—make it less of a fairy tale and more of a relevant, interesting story."
The narrator closes with: "The Internet of everything is changing everything. Cisco. Tomorrow starts here."
FILMING/ART DIRECTION: Christopher Riggert shot the spot over five days in New Zealand, where he could achieve a global feel that wasn't too North American or European. All the gadgets featured are on the market or just around the corner (even the self-driving car). The visual look is "futuristic, but with a simple, graphic, warm palette," said Randazzo. "As gray and modern as that home is, it's still human and warm and approachable."
The theme of connection extends to the camerawork and editing. "Whether it was a dolly move or a push or [the father] floating with the camera itself, it had to feel seamlessly connected to the next shot," he said. "The voiceover, film work, cadence and editing all combine to tell this circular story, without getting tricky."
TALENT: The main actor, from Sydney, had a dramatic and comedic background. He needed to be "a guy you would like very, very quickly," said Moore. "When you're telling a high-tech story, you need some humanity and fallibility mixed in." The narrator's deep voice lent a gravitas that balanced the spot's childlike conceit.
SOUND: The score has a playful, lightly bouncy vibe—and is circular as well, returning at the end to where it began. Sound design was crucial, too, to give the sense that all the devices are talking to each other. "We didn't want to be too literal, but we wanted to hear that conversation going on," said Randazzo.
MEDIA: CNN, Bloomberg and NBA TV throughout January, and online.
Spot: "Circle Story"
Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco
Partner: Rich Silverstein
Creative Director: Jon Randazzo and Justin Moore
Associate Creative Director: Bee Reynolds and Shane Fleming
Executive Producer: Hilary Coate
Group Account Director: John Coyne
Account Director: Tanin Blumberg
Account Manager: Kateri McLucas
Assistant Account Manager: Chelsea Bruzzone
Project Integration Director: Liz Clark
Brand and Communication Strategy
Group Brand Strategy Director: Kelli Robertson
Sr. Business Affairs Manager: Judy Ybarra
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Christopher Riggert
Director of Photography: Jeremy Rouse
Executive Producer: Holly Vega
Line Producer: Michael Hilliard
Editing House: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Stewart Reeves
Assistant Editor: Luke Mclntosh
Executive Producer: Carol Lynn Weaver
Head of Production: Angela Dorian
Producer: Alexandra Zickerick
Visual Effects: A52
Executive Producer: Jennifer Sofio Hall, Megan Meloth
Producer: Scott Boyajan
Lead Flame: Jesse Monsour
Flame Artists: Mark Alan Loso, Enid Dalkoff, Christel Hazard, Cam Coombs, Steve Wolff
CG Supervisor: Max Ulichney
CG Artists: Max Ulichney, Gregg Domain, Caleb Hecht, Joe Chiechi, Tim Donlevy
Graphic Design: Lisha Tan, Henry DeLeon, Leanne Dare, Lynn Cho, Jon Forsman,
Graphic Animation: Alan Chen, Sean Garfinkel, Steven Do
Roto: Tiffany German
Music House: Quickstrings
Composer: Jonathan Dreyfus
Sound Designer: Barking Owl
Audio Mix: Lime Studios
Mixer: Rohan Young
Assistant: Jeff Malen