GENESIS: To introduce its new Twirl Bites candy, Cadbury wanted an uplifting and magical TV spot that would bring the joy of twirling to life. Fallon had the ambitious idea of creating an immense whirligig made of fans, gears, propellers, and little spinning worlds all interconnecting, rotating joyously, and exploding with pyrotechnics at the end. The creatives considered CGI, but decided it should be built from scratch, and its gleeful movements captured in camera. "When you create something for real, the imperfections are what make it charming," says art director Rick Gayton. And imperfections they got. The finished spot—the Twirl brand's first TV ad in 15 years—is grand, infectious, and an impressive feat of engineering. But very little went as planned in the production.
ART DIRECTION: Special-effects company Mattes & Miniatures built the contraption in four weeks, working with director Yoann Lemoine to balance the fanciful and the practical. The whirligig is 9-feet tall and almost 14-feet wide— proportioned so it would be framed nicely in the establishing shots. Its little worlds feature an array of enchanting characters, including robots, dancing hippos, jubilant office workers, penguins at a car wash, a cow-stealing UFO, a guitar-playing Godzilla, and a caveman trying to spark a fire. The lighting is flat at the outset, but brightens as the machine turns, flooding the scene with color. It then darkens at the end, when the fireworks flash.
COPYWRITING: Two lines of copy, printed in yellow cursive on a rotating purple fan, swirl in at the end: "Twirl & Twirl & Twirl. New Twirl Bites."
FILMING: The shoot took two days. Lemoine got just one of 60 planned shots finished on the first day, and so the second day dragged into an all-nighter. The whirligig was unpredictable and temperamental. "It turns on different axes," says Lemoine. "A tray will move in one direction but on an axis that's turning on another." He and his director of photography, Mathieu Plainfossé, struggled to keep up. "Shooting it was like a video game," says Lemoine. "We were behind the Technocrane, turning the wheels to activate the camera, but we never knew if sections would turn left or right, and they would fly out of the frame. It was quite funny, actually." The motors controlling different sections would run out of battery power at different times. And when the whole thing was working, it was even more stressful. "It spun at a pace that was pretty frightening," says Gayton. "There were times when the machine nearly smashed into the camera." The fireworks shot was the trickiest—they had one chance to get it right. With the fireworks going off, the whirligig spun slower than before, but the editor was able to speed up that section of film and achieve a blurring effect that the creatives ended up liking.
SOUND: Lemoine, who is also a musician, handled the sound. The machine creaks to life with quiet clicks, whirs, bells, and whistles. Then a carnivalesque song pipes up, with drums and woodwinds, reaching a crescendo during the pyrotechnics. "We wanted the music and sounds not to necessarily come from the machine, but from the world that it's in," says Gayton. "It's something very different and individual to what you see in the shots."
MEDIA: A 40-second version is running on TV, along with 10-second clips that reveal more detail about individual scenes. A :60 is appearing in cinemas and online. The machine itself may also be publicly displayed. "It is quite a spectacular thing to see," says copywriter Darren Beresford.
Product: Twirl Bites
Agency: Fallon, London
Creative Directors: Shishir Patel & Sam Oliver
Art Director: Rick Gayton
Copywriter: Darren Beresford
Group Account Director: Nik Windsor
Account Director: Katy Cuff
Account Manager: Brad Firth
Agency Planner: Jo Hudson
Agency Producer: Angus Smith
Production Company: HSI London
Director: Yoann Lemoine
Producer: Nicola Doring
Director of Photography: Mathieu Plainfossé
Editor: Sam Gunn @ The Whitehouse
Post-production: Prime Focus
Music: The Shoes
Audio post-production: Wave
Media Agency: PHD
Media Planner: Jennifer Nicholson