Last year, Huggies started working on a Pull-Ups campaign in the U.K. for the brand’s new Explorers product for kids as young as 9 months just learning to walk and needing the kind of protection that can withstand energetic wiggles, tumbles and first steps.
The Kimberly-Clark brand was planning to bring back its classic tagline, “I’m a big kid now,” with a TV commercial and promotional content for a monthslong digital campaign. The creative agency and production company had planned a traditional green-screen studio shoot with toddler talent cruising around in Pull-Ups.
But just as they were getting ready to shoot, the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Suddenly, there were dozens of problems. Talent and production teams were sequestered in their homes. The only way to make it work seemed like a long shot—if the production team could find directors of photography who had children within the right age range, had space to shoot footage in their homes and were willing to put their kids on camera, it just might be possible.
“It’s quite a different thing for people to put their own kids on telly,” said Diana Ellis-Hill, co-director on the project for production company Be The Fox. Typically, the goal is to get a good shot with the talent available. But if you’re also the parent of that talent, there are other things to consider.
Initially, Ellis-Hill wasn’t sure they’d be able to find the right people for the job. She worried that the shoot’s specific requirements would make it impossible to find the kind of diversity they were hoping for. But with so many people suddenly stuck at home, many without work, the pool of candidates was much bigger than expected—100 directors of photography applied.
“We didn’t anticipate we’d get such high-end DOPs as we did,” Ellis-Hill said. “The people who are shooting for us are incredible.”
The team settled on 13 DOPs (and their children) to shoot the TV spots and digital content for the campaign.
But the complexities didn’t stop there. With remote production, all communication had to be done via videoconferencing. And rather than getting all the footage in one day, the shoots were staggered so the directors could work with each videographer and ensure the content worked.
“Zoom was our savior,” said Ian Flynn, creative director at RocketMill, the creative agency that developed the campaign. “We made casting decisions, prop and wardrobe decisions, collaborated on music production and even dialed into shoots throughout the process.”
In order to get costumes and equipment to and from the DOPs’ homes, Be The Fox deployed a small team of runners to make sure the drop-offs and pickups were done in a safe, contactless manner.
“It was exciting to feel that we were still managing to find a way considering all of the restrictions,” Flynn said.
After the costumes were distributed, the team realized the T-shirts they’d chosen were too long—they were hiding the top of the Pull-Ups, making it hard to see the very product the ads were meant to promote. After a few attempts at fixing them on-site, Be The Fox sent a runner (in full PPE) back to the homes to pick up the T-shirts, have them hemmed, cleaned and brought back.
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