Young & Shand has conspired with Telecom-owned Skinny Mobile to serve up a group dancing TVC that comes with a significant dollop of cheese.
Playing out to Earth Wind & Fire's 1978 hit 'September', the actors are shown lip-synching and dancing their way—sometimes awkwardly—through Owairaka Park in Auckland's Mount Albert.
Successfully choreographing an elaborate dance video featuring numerous actors is always challenging, but Young & Shand managing director Duncan Shand says the production process was even more difficult in this instance.
"It was an ambitious one-day shoot — particularly as it’s a one-shot execution. We worked with talented director Chris Graham (goodLife films), choreographer Linda McFetridge, and an exceptional cast that all brought energy and life to the shoot, of course with lots of practice and a number of takes."
The video comes shortly after the release of Saatchi & Saatchi's divisive 'Giganaire' TVC for Telecom that caused one StopPress commenter to contemplate eye and ear removal. And although the Skinny mobile clip also features the use of music to relay a brand message, Shand says this was not a strategic creative decision made in collaboration with Saatchi.
"[It] was just a coincidence. Telecom and Skinny operate separately and the idea was born out of a Skinny brief for unlimited on-net calling on their '$16 Prepay Combo' ... We’ve worked with Skinny for the last two years on various digital campaigns. However, this project was the first time we’ve been given the full creative responsibility for the job."
Given that Young & Shand usually specialises in digital campaign activations, it's interesting that the agency has chosen to lead the campaign with a television-based promotion.
"The TVC is just one part of a wider digitally led campaign which is supported by more traditional media. We had the idea of ‘Awesome Happens Together’ and felt that the strongest way of communicating this to a mass audience was through a video-based execution. We took a digital-first approach, but there’s plenty of research suggesting that digital plus television works really hard, and with the campaign objectives it was natural to push this onto traditional media as well," says Shand.
Since its inception, Skinny has focused on younger consumers in an effort to extend Telecom's reach in an area of the market where the telco giant has traditionally been weak. And while this remains an important objective, Shand says that the company's marketing approach is evolving.
"Skinny is more focused on the mindset of consumers and appealing to a variety of segments looking for great value. We believe the ‘Awesome Happens Together’ campaign effectively supports Skinny’s strategy of focusing on the youth space while appealing to a wider value-seeking audience."
In contrast to the lyrical reworking in State Insurance's 'Keep you moving' or the original composition in Telecom's 'Giganaire', Shand says that his team did not think it necessary to alter the track used in the spot.
"The Earth, Wind and Fire’s 'September’ is an absolute classic and was central to the idea due to the fact that for us it simply conveys the feeling of 'Awesome Happens Together’. We didn’t change the lyrics as the idea is about New Zealanders coming together to make something awesome happen, that’s also why we recreated the original song using only people’s voices, and entirely human-generated sound effects instead of instruments, with the expert help of [production company] Franklin Rd."