Aardman Week – Adverts
As with any successful animation company, before Aardman brought us memorable films like Wallace and Gromit, Creature Comforts, The Pirates, Shaun the Sheep and Chicken Run they built themselves from the ground up through advertising – anonymously creating animation for well-known brands such as Cadbury’s, Kellogg’s, Smarties and Lurpak.
It is fair to say that many of the most iconic commercials in the UK were made by Aardman and to this day, their commercials that I saw as a child still sit freshly in my mind as clear as the day I first saw them.
One thing in particular that Aardman does very well is creating exciting, detailed and engaging worlds that the audience can believe in and be sucked into. Their Smarties Isn’t It British commercial is a great example of this. It takes you through a journey, exploring the Smarties universe inside a Smarties tube and cleverly reinforces the product by including shapes that mirror the Smarties form and a colour palette that coincides with the brand and packaging. It can lead you to believe that the world presented is actually made of chocolate; allowing you to conjure up the taste, texture and smell of Smarties in your mind. The commercial certainly utilities CGI well and quite nicely carries on the Smarties universe theme of Snowden Fine’s Smarties advert.
Comedy and originality are two other strings to the Aardman bow – and their repertoire of commercials are abundant with both. Their series of electricity ads based on their Creature Comforts comedy documentary series often feature these subtle and incidental comic moments. Likewise, their Hubba Bubba commercial Polar Bear, directed by Peter Peake always cracks me up when the penguin in the background gets his tongue stuck to the North Pole (you can read our 2013 interview with Peter Peake to hear more about this talented director).
Over the last few decades Aardman have produced a plethora of commercials – hundreds in fact! I couldn’t possibly cover them all here, but let’s take a look at some of them in my personal top 10 list of Aardman adverts:
Lyle’s Golden Syrup ‘Sticky’ (1991)
A catchy tune can be all you need to make a commercial successful and memorable. However, an outstanding tune and stunning visuals makes something that is truly iconic that will stay in your mind forever. Filmed using replacements, Sticky demonstrates how animation can be used to bring a product to life – and what better way to do this than a combination of stop-motion with live-action sets – a technique that Aardman has adopted for many of its commercials. Featuring bellowing vocals by the comic genius Spike Milligan, the tune from this advert has stuck with me since the day I first heard it as a child. I can remember reciting this to my friends when I was in primary school!
Quite interestingly, when Peter Lord and David Sproxton started working together in the late 1960s, they were making films on the Lord family’s kitchen table. Did it look like the one in the Lyle’s advert I wonder – I certainly hope so!