A Real Pigeon Skanks to a Ska Song in Virgin Money’s Ludicrous New Ad

That's talent

Plenty of birds can sing, but how many can dance the skank?

Well, none, probably. But the pigeon in this minute-long Virgin Money spot that just broke in Britain comes damn close, strutting its feathered stuff to The Selecter's 1979 ska thumper "On My Radio."

"We just thought banks are boring, mundane, normal at best. Virgin is cooler," Gavin Torrance, a creative director at The&Partnership who worked on the spot, tells AdFreak. "So, we came up with the idea of taking something normal, and making it cool."

That's a real pigeon, and its movements are genuine, though creatively edited, of course, to construct the commercial. "It was a very tricky thing to capture all in-camera," Torrance says. "That's why we chose to work with [director] Andy McLeod at Rattling Stick. He had a cunning way to manipulate a real pigeon to get it to perform those intricate dance moves."

Hmm. Did the dude squawk directions? Coo in the bird's ear? Torrance isn't saying. "It took a full day's filming to capture all the moves we needed," he says. Several pigeons were on hand, but the performance on screen comes from just one bird.

It's no moonwalking Shetland pony, but what is, really? Besides, this particular rat with wings (no disrespect intended) gyrates way more realistically than that nag ever did, bopping its beak to the 2-Tone beat and tapping its talons on the sidewalk.

The film combines footage of an actual road with a stylized street set, and clearly, some other visual trickery was employed. You've gotta love the dance-club ambiance achieved by the flashing lights of a passing police cruiser and the smoky exhaust of a nearby car.

Leaning more heavily on effects would've simplified matters, but "we wanted it to look totally real and authentic," says Torrance. "There's no magic in seeing a CGI pigeon twerking. But a real one—now that's sexy!"

With about 20,000 YouTube views in its first day online, the clip is no instant smash, but cats everywhere should be driving up those stats in short order.


Client: Virgin Money

Marketing Director: Paul Lloyd

Agency: m/SIX

Chief Executive Officer: Jess Burley

Account Director: Beatrice Clarke

Producer: Emma Hovell, The&Partnership

Creatives: Danny Hunt, Gavin Torrance, The&Partnership

Content Agency: AllTogetherNow

Chief Executive Officer: Conor McNicholas

Production Company: Rattling Stick

Director: Andy McLeod

Producer: Simon Sanderson

Postproduction: Big Buoy

Visual Effects: Jim Allen

Producer: Barny Wright

Music: The Selecter, "On My Radio"