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How BBH Perfected the Twist Ending for the Year's Best Beverage Ad

Careful clues for Robinsons

Two friends are not who they appear.

IDEA: Twist endings aren't always the best idea for commercials. Ads need staying power, and relying too much on a surprise can ruin them after the first viewing. BBH London got around this quite skillfully in its wonderful new spot pitching Robinsons juice as the thirst quencher after a day of energetic family play. Yes, there's a major reveal at the end: The two boys we've seen playing together turn out not to be friends but father and son. (The dad is depicted as a child until the final frames to show he is his son's friend as well as his father.) But the agency sprinkled clues to their real identities throughout the spot, making subsequent viewings almost as rich as the first.

"As a parent, when you play energetically with your kids, you're more like best mates. This gave us an interesting way into the schmaltzy, familiar area of 'kids and parents having fun together,' " said BBH creatives Matt Moreland, Chris Clarke and Hamish Pinnell, who answered questions as a group via email. Disguising the father as a kid was the eureka moment, they said, but "the trick was not giving the game away too early."

COPYWRITING: It's all there if you look closely. The one boy throws rocks farther into the river than the other; he teases him about girls; he even shouts "I am your father!" (à la Darth Vader) as they play lightsabers with sticks. "Subtlety was key," said the creatives. "We created lots of carefully orchestrated clues … that we wanted people not to pick up on the first time around. Getting the order right was a constant headache during editing."

Major clues surface toward the end, as the one boy puts the other to bed. "We loved the idea of the boy carrying his pal up to bed and tucking him in. It's not just a nice, tender moment, it's also something only a father would do—an emotional way of giving the game away," said the creatives. "Night, dad," the boy says, and finally we see the father. "Night, pal," he replies, and switches off the light. "It's good to be a dad. It's better to be a friend," says on-screen copy next to a bottle of Robinsons orange juice. The tagline is: "Play thirsty."

ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Directing duo Si & Ad of Academy Films shot the spot over three days in Cape Town, South Africa. The creatives wanted the visual look to feel "timeless" so that both kids and parents could relate to it. The directors pushed for more spoken interaction in each scene to enrich the narrative. "We always knew there was going to be a bit of dialogue in the film but were really surprised when the first edit contained so much dialogue," the creatives said. "Suddenly it wasn't just an ad, it was a little film."

TALENT: The agency looked far and wide in casting the lead roles. "We scoured the country until we found Tom and Callum," the creatives said. "You'd never guess that they'd only just met. They immediately struck a bond that continued throughout the shoot. The boys really didn't need that much coaching—just the odd reminder to stop singing Dizzee Rascal all day long!"

SOUND: The music is the 2011 track "July" by Youth Lagoon. "The trick was to find something with emotion and that would build and wouldn't get in the way of the boys' dialogue," said the creatives. "Lyrical tracks just made the film feel a bit flat and a little obvious." All the dialogue was recorded on location, giving the sound an immediacy that would be hard to capture in the studio.

MEDIA: The spot broke May 4 during Britain's Got Talent on ITV1. It is airing nationally in 30- and 60-second versions, and online.

THE SPOT:

CREDITS
Client: Robinsons
Agency: BBH, London

BBH Creative Team: Matt Moreland, Chris Clarke, Sarah Hardcastle, Elliot Shiels
BBH Creative Directors: Hamish Pinnell, Justin Moore
BBH Producer: Glenn Paton
BBH Strategic Business Leads: John Harrison, Becky Russell
BBH Strategist: Lilli English
BBH Team Director: Alex Monger

Production Company: Academy Films
Director: Si & Ad
Executive Producer: Lizie Gower
Producer: Dom Thomas
Director of Photography: Barry Ackroyd
Postproduction: The Mill
Editor, Editing House: Joe Guest @ Final Cut
Sound: Nick Angell

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