Sherwin-Williams’ Beautiful Emerald Paint Ad Is Quite the Feat of Engineering Mastery

You've never seen a swatch like this

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Tech-savvy aesthetes still need to buy paint … but how do you capture their attention?

In the case of Sherwin-Williams, it’s the old “The right people will know” strategy. To showcase its Emerald paint, dubbed “best-in-class,” it’s created an ad that combines the pigment with water, robots and high-speed camerawork.

You won’t see any robots here, though. Instead, you’ll see the result of all that high-falutin’ production work:

The ad, dubbed “Epiphany,” uses only real Emerald paint. It was made possible with help from a robot arm called Spike, whose precision guidance system helped control camera movement at high rates of speed, even underwater. A Phantom camera, mounted to Spike, shot footage at 900 to 4,000 frames per second, enabling you to see colors splashing together, and creating gorgeous shapes and psychedelic combinations that the human eye can appreciate.

Psyop, working with agency McKinney, also used a laptop version of Flame for instant, on-set editing—a first for the production house.

Produced entirely without CGI, the result is a promotion for “exquisite color” and “exceptional durability” (though you’ll tell us how that works out once the pigment’s been exposed to years of showers. The brand, in its defense, offers a limited lifetime warranty). Beacon Street Studios provided the punchy score.

To better appreciate the technical mastery rolled into these 30 seconds, a two-minute making-of details every last anxious moment. For some, it may prove more compelling than the ad itself, because you can see the way water actually interacts with Emerald. The massive machine that is Spike also makes an appearance.

“With this, it’s almost like you’re doing some kind of strange chemistry or physics,” says director Eben Mears of Psyop. “You know, we get in there and we’re coming up with rigs, and we’re figuring out ways that we can combine the paint with water, or shoot it with different elements, or spin it, or do whatever we can.”

Mears adds: “This is something dynamic and fun; it stays true to the paint. All of the Emerald paint is the real paint that’s being used in this film, and everything that you see is true to life. It couldn’t be any cooler.”

“Epiphany” breaks this week on both syndication and cable.

Client: Sherwin-Williams
Campaign: Emerald, Epiphany

Agency: McKinney
Chief Creative Officer: Jonathan Cude
Group Creative Directors: Jenny Nicholson, Owen Tingle
ACD, Art Director: Jordan Eakin
ACD, Copywriter: David Sloan
Group Account Director: Lisa Hughes
Account Director: Lindsley Laham
Account Supervisor: Mandy Gatton
Project Manager: Kanika Pendergrass
Executive Producer: Josh Eggleston
Director of Media: Swap Patel
Associate Media Director: Katie Swicegood
Media Supervisor: Virginia Crotty
Media Planner: Alex Grimm
Media Planner: Jimmy Patel-Nguyen
Production Company: PSYOP
Directed by: PSYOP
Creative Director: Eben Mears
Music: Beacon Street Studios
Audio Post: Sonic Union
Mix: Steve Rosen
Producer: Pat Sullivan
Color Grading: Nice Shoes
Colorist: Sal Malfitano

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.