IDEA: You hear it often—it's what's inside that counts. That's especially true for an automaker touting a roomy vehicle, like Honda has with its new Civic Tourer wagon in Europe.
To advertise it, Wieden + Kennedy focused on all kinds of interiors in an amazing 60-second spot called "Inner Beauty." The quirky, charming, exquisitely crafted ad takes the viewer, in a first-person view, zooming across a desert and through all sorts of objects—from a golf ball to a suitcase to the Civic Tourer itself—revealing their curious innards.
The brief to W+K was, "There is an estate hidden inside"—i.e., the Civic Tourer has as much room as an estate vehicle (a big van/station wagon in the U.K.). "We decided it was interesting to focus on the human curiosity of looking inside things," said W+K creative director Scott Dungate, "plus the joy you experience when you're surprised and pleased by what you see."
COPYWRITING: The ad opens with the viewer speeding across a desert floor as Garrison Keillor, the brand's longtime voice in Europe, says: "For those who love the inside as much as the outside, this is for you."
Quickly, the camera travels up to and through a golf ball, camera, wrapped gift (with a robot inside), amplifier, suitcase (containing clothes and a snow globe of San Francisco) and chest of drawers (with mostly socks). At the end, it explores the Civic Tourer's interior, then pulls back to show all the previous items flying into its trunk.
"There," says Keillor. "Aren't you glad you looked?"
There was a lot of debate over which objects to include. "I still wish we'd cut through a rock revealing a fossil and 'crystal cave,' but that was a casualty of the process," said Dungate.
The spot ends with the vehicle name onscreen, followed by the Honda name, "The Power of Dreams" tagline, honda.co.uk URL and #CivicTourer hashtag.
ART DIRECTION/FILMING: The visuals are a mix of live action, stop motion and CGI. "We ended up taking things more surreal, but didn't want to feel the CGI too much," said Dungate. "While the final aesthetic is 'hyper-real,' I think it feels quite fresh as it uses a lot of real textures."
Oscar-nominated Nexus directors Smith & Foulkes, whose Honda work goes back to 2004's Grand Prix-winning "Grrr," filmed the live action in Teruel, Spain, and the stop motion in a studio. They wove in the CGI with help from Time Base Arts.
"Quirky was important," said Dungate. "It needed to be playful, human and warm—which can be difficult with inanimate objects and a 'slicing technique.' "
TALENT: Keillor, 71, brings a warm folksiness. "He adds humility, which is a point of difference in a category full of overclaim," Dungate said. "Perhaps even more useful is, it's good for when you're writing. If you can't imagine him saying it, it's probably not right."
The driver of the car is almost invisible. "I didn't want him in there at all," said Dungate. "But someone had to drive, so I lost that argument."
SOUND: There's no music—it's all sound design, rich and complex. "Sound played a big role in bringing humanity to the objects," Dungate said. "It also plays a massive role in storytelling, setting up what the objects are and the lifestyle story relevant to the audience. Take, for example, the little kid laughing in the camera. Or the sound of the jet going into the suitcase. These all help you get the story of each object really quick, which is important as we move through things quite fast."
MEDIA: The spot broke first in Germany, then in other European markets. It's running for a month in the U.K.
BEHIND THE SCENES:
Spot: "Inner Beauty"
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, London
Creative Director, Copywriter, Art Director: Scott Dungate
Producer: Michelle Brough
Account Team: Paulo Salomao/Alex Budenberg/Sophie Moss
Executive Creative Directors: Tony Davidson / Kim Papworth
Agency Executive Producer: Danielle Stewart
Production Company: Nexus
Director: Smith & Foulkes
Executive Producer: Tracey Cooper
Director of Photography: Mark Patten
Editorial Company: Trim
Editor: Paul Hardcastle
VFX Company: Time Based Arts
VFX Supervisor: Mike Skrgatic
Flame Artist: Sheldon Gardner
VFX Producer: Chris Aliano
Music+Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore & Tom Joyce
Mix Company: Factory
Mixer: Anthony Moore & Tom Joyce