Snow, Tulips and Chimneys’ new animation, is the first television commercial in over 20 years for Cerebos, South Africa’s favourite salt brand.
They jumped at the opportunity to add another iconic South African brand to their reel, which includes work for the likes of All Gold, Bakers Biscuits, Clover and M-Net. “We’re just waiting on Ouma Rusks now,” says director Ree Treweek with a laugh.
The FCB Durban spot tells the story of Mpho, a little girl who dreams of snow, despite living in the Karoo. Her grandparents intervene to help her dream come true – with a little help from Cerebos (cue their classic ‘see how it runs’ tagline).
A lot of thought went into the shape of the characters. “Mpho is shaped like an upside-down triangle,” says Ree. “Her cuteness factor largely comes from her having such a big head in relation to her body and her tiny feet. Her grandma on the other hand is bell-shaped, completely the opposite or rather the reverse of Mpho. Her shape is an ode to her larger-than-life personality. She is definitely the matriarch of the family. Gramps on the other hand is a skinny bean of a man. He takes up very little space in the house and is quiet and unassuming. However, he observes everything so closely and in the end it’s his patient tinkering and exquisite mind that brings so much joy to Mpho and Grandma.”
To create Snow’s distinct look, Tulips and Chimneys used a combination of stop motion and CG, creating the miniatures in-house and collaborating with BlackGinger on the animation.
It took a team of three four weeks to put together the miniature set, as just building the lounge required 24 different types of material and 31 loose items were created just to dress the kitchen.
Ree says they particularly enjoyed coming up with the touches for the set that were truly South African, like pumpkins drying out on the red roof of the Karoo farm house; dishwashing liquid in the kitchen reminiscent of Sunlight; old ginger beer bottles typically found in farmsteads; and a coat hanger being used as the TV aerial.
Executive producer Nina Pfeiffer credits the agency with the wonderful touch of the titles for Mpho’s books, which all play into her obsession with snow, from Snowden to Jack Frost to Feeding Your Penguin.
“It’s these tiny touches that make the spot so special,” says Nina.
Ree says they also had a lot of fun set-decorating the exterior shots. “The textured ground was a mixture of sand, tiny pebbles and tea! We then added hundreds of tiny sprigs of rosemary that lead up to the larger bushes that were created with moss died different colours.”
“We couldn’t be happier with the result,” says FCB Durban creative director, Brandon Govender. “We wanted something out of the ordinary and decided it simply had to be animated. Tulips and Chimneys are the best in the business, and we’ve truly enjoyed working with them to bring the characters and story to life. It’s been a real labour of love for all involved.”
Snow marks another success for Ree and Nina, who will be celebrating their 10-year creative partnership this year. Readers will remember their early work when they still traded as Shy the Sun, with such hits as The Curse of the Sad Mummy for League of Legends, which now has over 13m YouTube views.
Ree’s hoping it won’t be another 20 years before Cerebos returns to TV screens (or whatever has replaced them by then). “Mpho's sidekicks are three chickens that ended up stealing the show,” she says. “We absolutely love them and are hoping we have the opportunity to develop their stories further down the line.”
For more information, visit http://www.tulipsandchimneys.tv/.