How O Creative Studio reacted to a very open brief for Seat’s latest ad campaign
The team at O Creative Studio had never read a script quite like it. The first time they read the brief from C14TORCE for Seat’s new TV campaign, they realised it presented an opportunity unlike any they’d seen before. “The agency and the client were open to any interpretation we wished,” says executive producer Rafa Montilla, still somewhat surprised, even now the project is over.
The brief contained no visual guidance, just some copy about how the car brand’s non-conformist philosophy stems from their Barcelona-born identity. The only thing guiding O Creative Studio’s approach was the brief to create images that would give meaning to the copy, to reaffirm it in an understandable way. It also had to be a collaboration with artists from Barcelona. “So it was all down to us,” says Rafa.
Their first thought was that this was an opportunity to do something cinematographically powerful and different from the images we are all used to seeing in ads. As Rafa puts it: “we wanted it to have the sensibility of a piece created by artists."
O Creative Studio represents artists as well as photographers and directors, so they were ideally placed to meet this brief. They held a meeting and asked their directors who they would like to collaborate with, the person about whom they'd always thought: “someday I would love to do something with…”
In the end they landed on six directors, each paired with an artist of their choosing, working in collaboration on an arresting work of moving image:
Miquel Díaz Pont + Penique Productions = the big inflatable
Mau Morgó + David Fernandez (Overstone) = the giant head and foot
Sepe + Pep Gatell = the various green scenes
Adrià Cañameras + Mariona Moya (La Caracoles) = the tightrope performance
Fernando Domínguez + Pense & Benoire = the air-powered moving sculpture
María Sosa Betancor + Marta Armengol = the glass sculpture
It was too good to be true for many of the studio team. “They didn't seem very convinced that it would end up happening,” says Rafa. “They thought an advertising piece wouldn't allow for a collaboration between so many people, and were also unsure about how to unite so many different sensibilities and have them all flowing like a single one.”
The latter concern was fair enough. So to find an excuse to use a bunch of different artists, they invited the Affaire art direction studio, which O represents, to provide a global vision uniting all the pieces. “And they came up with something fantastic,” says Rafa, “which was using the Seat colour palette to create a piece in which each of the parts corresponded to the given chromatic progression, as well as creating a circle in which everything begins and ends.”
With the idea hammered out, it was time to present their artistic vision back. “The agency was pleasantly surprised,” says Rafa, relieved. “We knew it was one of those all-or-nothing opportunities, and it turned out OK! The agency expected a holistic vision from a single director and what they encountered were six, plus their creative partners. It was fun when Dani Ilario [ECD, C14TORCE] asked us who the director was and we said, ‘the six of them!’”
The premise for each scene was, as Rafa puts it: “forget any prejudices and feel absolutely free to create. And that's what happened.”
The main challenge, once they got down to making the film, was to unite a production team that had to find solutions to things that have little or nothing to do with traditional advertising production. To get round this challenge O asked for the help of Nadala Fernández, who Rafa describes as “a great friend and scenography expert.” She's responsible of many set designs for La Fura dels Baus, the famously fun-loving Catalan theatre group. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Fura_dels_Baus] They melded her ideas with those of Fiona Vidal Cuadras and Nitus Rubies, their in-house production team.
Some executions, such as Mau Morgó's, required theatre artists and sculptors - not the kind of talent most TVCs require. The same went for Fernando Dominguez's sculpture, or with the collaboration between Adrià Cañameras and the tightrope walkers. “The production was like a big fitting of all the pieces,” says Rafa, “and being able to fit them all in two days, duplicating teams, was a real challenge.
“We needed long hours of rehearsals to make it all perfect. Nadala kept on repeating that it was like being live on stage, when anything can happen. Because everything had to be done in front of the camera, there were no digital VFX; the great challenge was for everything to be real, without any tricks. We need to thank Pep Gatell for using all his creativity and long years of experience in art direction so that all the parts he shared with Sepe were a success.”
The challenges were significant, but one enduring feeling for Rafa is the team’s energy during the project: “Everyone was conscious that what was happening was something very special and difficult to repeat. And something really new!”
Just like the rest of the project, presenting the final piece to the Seat marketing team was a unique experience. Rafa recalls how Susanne Franz, Seat's global marketing director, reacted: “I could say something about all the aspects of the piece, but this is the work of several artists, and I prefer to respect it as is.”
Rafa appreciates that very few clients could take this view. “This is something that honours her, as well as the agency, which was also very respectful towards our work,” he says. “Something very uncommon today in the world of advertising.”
He attributes the quality of the final piece to this. “Without a good advertiser and a good agency ready to go for innovation it would be very difficult to do something that stands out.”
On a more personal note, Rafa won’t forget one moment in particular: “When I entered the orange inflatable thing; it was an incredible experience! I guess a psychologist would have a lot to say about that…”