It is becoming an annual occasion, Shortland Street embarking on a Christmas hiatus while leaving its audience with a series of summer advertisements to ponder over. So, how has this year fared compared to previous campaigns?
Blacksand’s 2015/2016 campaign was all realism and successfully experimented with new software, Wirewax. The short interactive videos enabled its audience to delve into a series of videos and unlock a series of clues based on the unresolved cliffhanger.
Despite its success, Blacksand’s 2017/18 summer campaign stepped away from the doom and gloom of realism and instead used animation coupled with a bright pink colour palate in three still life images - each shot fresh and relatively untoward.
Although the campaign has deployed a different style this year, the show is still dedicated to the pre-new year’s cliffhanger, which baits the audience back on the couch in sheer anticipation for the new year.
The three scenes feature a key love triangle with Curtis pulling Esther away from the heavens as Finn tries to intervene; a heroine at a crossroads as Sass walks purposefully across a pink ocean; and Shortland Street stalwart Chris Warner in trouble, standing at the bottom of the stairwell bottle in hand.
Executive creative director Jens Hertzum says this year the creative team wanted to do something brave, something different and something out of the box.
“We always focused on the cliffhangers, because they are much loved and draw the audience back after the hiatus, but we also thought that although the show is dark at times - it is fun to watch and it is summer time, and we wanted to do something different to break the mould of what we have done before.”
It aligned well with the use of three still life images, which were displayed across various mediums in various places across the country.
Hertzum says it created a tableau for each scene then that could live in print, out of home, digital display and digital billboards, with a little bit of animation running through where possible.
The choice for this year’s hyper-real style aligned with the decision to feature three cliffhanger storylines reimagined in a single frame.
“There is something interesting about looking at something you think is static particularly in the cinematograph, outside of home and then it is moving ever so slightly, it is more eye capturing than a full piece of video I think,” Hertzum adds.
Additionally, he describes the technology at play and the difficulty of experimentation, especially in the motion graphics work.
“To begin with we used After Effects in our design package to bring the design alive. Then the smaller elements of Cinema 4D to create the 3D motion. Although we were capturing still images, some elements were photographs with live action to compliment those in with the frame - in general, the motion graphics work was a labour-intensive affair, headed up by our head of design, Jacob Slack.”
The three stills allowed the crew to dispense of the video camera and bring life through animation, each continually built on over the course of the campaign.
Hertzum says it’s received good figures.
“Every year there is a drop in the number of people who return to Shortland Street and that drop has been decreased; less audience has fallen away from that, due to the campaign.”
Last year was the soap's 25th anniversary and TVNZ reported a bumper audience of 630,000 tuned into the special feature-length episode.
GM Marketing Strategy – Helen Fitzsimons
Senior Marketing Manager – Reuben Wiremu
Executive Creative Director – Jens Hertzum
Creative Director – Adam Sarkar
Design Director – Jacob Slack
Art Director – Angus Kerr
Photographer – Steve Tilley
Media Strategist – Sally Falconer
Media Agency - Starcom
Campaign Manager – Emily-Jane Thompson
Producer – Raluca Cozariuc
Motion Graphics Designer – Leon Senf
Motion Graphics Designer – Nick Henderson
Motion Graphics Designer –Nick Delaney
Digital Designer – Chris Hill
Digital Designer – Jeff Lau