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Behind Patrón’s Stunning, Musical Celebration of Its Hand-Crafted Tequila


LBB’s Ben Conway discusses the scenic, authentic music video - made by hand - with Patrón’s president and global CMO, MullenLowe LA and Loveboat director Tino

Behind Patrón’s Stunning, Musical Celebration of Its Hand-Crafted Tequila

‘Our Hands’ is a campaign created by MullenLowe Los Angeles for the tequila brand Patrón. Shot on stylised real-life locations and starring the genuine artisans behind Patrón tequila, the film blends the scenic vistas of the agave fields in Mexico’s Jalisco region with an authentic presentation of the hand-crafted process behind the product. The artisans’ clapping, dancing and working on set has been woven into a vibrant, percussive soundtrack that helps to celebrate their ‘handiwork’, as well as the cultural heritage of the region and its tequila.

After around 20 days of shooting on location in Mexico, the finished film paints a colourful picture of the beautiful surroundings of Patrón’s ‘Hacienda Patrón’ distillery, and provides a rhythmic, audio experience that resembles the heartbeat of Patrón’s ‘Familia’. To take a deeper dive into how the spot came to be, LBB’s Ben Conway caught up with representatives of both the brand and the creative team, as well as with the director.

Discussing how they captured the spirit and natural awe of the Jalisco region, and how they represented the “empowerment and the swagger” of the agave artisans working there, Ben speaks with Victor Monclous, creative director at MullenLowe Los Angeles, and Kathy Parker, president and global CMO at Patrón Tequila and Grey Goose Vodka at Bacardi. Sharing his perspective from the production side of things is Loveboat’s director, Tino (Airton Carmignani). 

LBB> Where did the initial creative spark for this campaign come from? 

Kathy> Crafted by MullenLowe Los Angeles, the concept was inspired by the teams’ recent visit to Hacienda Patrón, where they had the chance to meet our talented artisans and see firsthand the art and process of making our super-premium tequila. As the category continues to increase in popularity, we are seeing consumers take a closer look at the ingredients and production process that goes into the tequila they are drinking. 

Since the brand's inception, Patrón is one of the few tequila brands that has remained dedicated to a traditional, handcrafted production process and that’s why we created ‘Our Hands’. We make tequila in the very best way - by hand and in small batches using only three natural ingredients (agave, water and yeast) - and our Patrón Familia, seen in the ad campaign, is really proud of that. We wanted to bring them to the forefront of this creative, showcasing the people behind our tequila and highlighting their craft in an artistic way representative of our handcrafted process.

Victor> Hands are instruments of any artisan’s trade. We thought a beautiful way to dramatise the passion of our tequila artisans for what they do would be to have them perform music with these tools - their hands. Having them clap and beat and splash, felt like a very simple and powerful way of showing such devotion to their craft. Creating a soundtrack would also allow us to unlock a sensorial world full of nuances 

LBB> So, how did you develop this clapping soundtrack?

Kathy> We were fortunate to work with Grammy winner Andrés ‘Dre’ Levin, musician and composer. He led the music production process and worked in synergy with Mexico-based fashion designer, Sandra Weil, and our talented artisans. 

Victor> Having worked with Dre on last year's campaign ‘Gracias a la Vida’, we knew that his knowledge of Mexican grassroots music made him perfect for this brief. He was super excited about the sound exploration, as he’s passionate about different types of percussion. As a Grammy award-winning artist, we also knew he would give us a composition that had the swagger as well as the authenticity needed.

The skeleton of the composition was created with Dre before we got to the shoot - it was important to know what the narrative and the pace would be in each of the film’s moments. Once the basics were there, we had a track that we could use as a guide when we shot. We played a few of those audio sequences live to the artisans so they could clap to the rhythm, at different speeds. With all these tempo options the edit was easier, and we were able to select the right take for the sound. As things became more defined, we collaborated with Barking Owl for additional SFX and sound design.

LBB> The fashion design for the spot is beautiful - what was the inspiration behind this, and how did you work with Sandra Weil to achieve the look?

Victor> We wanted to portray our artisans with the empowerment and the swagger that comes from knowing that you’re a master at your craft. Sandra Weil’s style was perfect for this: her work exudes confidence and authenticity. Her team had an amazing proposal that involved making outfits from scratch, with natural materials, fitted to each of our artisans. They also sourced local artisans like Crudo Caan, La Emperatriz and Rodete Studio, who provided the accessories that complete the outfits.


LBB> How was the production process? 

Victor> The distillery where Patrón is crafted, called La Hacienda, became our production base camp. From there, we prepped the various components of the production. For casting and locations, authenticity was key. We cast actual Patrón artisans: fermenters, distillers, tahona wheel operators and jimadors. None of them had previous acting experience but their presence added a great layer of uniqueness and depth to the film. 

We scouted relevant locations in the Jalisco region, near La Hacienda. Preparations took about two months and it was shot over four days. The logistics were quite challenging, as a few of the exteriors were fairly far apart from each other. We spent a lot of time on bumpy old roads, but the resulting shots were well worth it. We chose locations that had a special role in the Patrón tequila making process - agave fields where Patrón gets their piñas from and the actual barrel rooms in the distillery. It was also important for us to show the landscape and elements that also play a big part in making tequila - the water, the fire and the weather of Jalisco. We had some breathtaking exterior shots and, with a little bit of VFX from Shape and Light, we were able to enhance things to create this magical place where the best tequila in the world is crafted.

Tino> Jalisco is beautiful, and we had the chance to immerse ourselves in the tequila culture of the region. I grew up in the countryside of Brazil in a region that has a strong cachaça tradition, so Jalisco felt somehow very familiar. Also, the idea of casting exclusively Patrón artisans for the spot was an exciting challenge. It was the first experience in front of a camera for almost all of them, and they had to clap and dance and perform. 

I think it was shot with K35 on Alexa LF but I might be wrong. We had to keep it very low-key because we were either shooting in the middle of the agave fields or in a working distillery. But since the beginning, we discussed keeping it simple and poetic. I particularly enjoyed shooting the bottle installation. There was such a good vibe on that set. We asked Jovana, the talent, to improvise some dance moves to the music and she just killed it.

LBB> The lighting and colour of the spot is also very beautiful - mixing blues and oranges - did you work closely with the colourist?

Tino> The blue agave has a unique blueish-green colour that contrasts beautifully with the orange earthy tones of the ground in some parts of Jalisco. The orange-green palette was there already, and our eyes were naturally attracted to that great colour contrast. We didn’t shy away from colours during the shoot because we knew we would like to push it on colour grading. Joseph Bicknell, the grading artist, created three looks: one more natural, another super extreme and one in the middle that was the chosen one.

LBB> The shots of the artisans performing in the water and picturesque agave fields, and the person standing on top of the flaming pile of agave in the distillery are mesmerising - can you talk us through how you captured these shots specifically?

Tino> The location where we shot the women in the water was a tricky one. It took a lot of scouting to find a place with the sun in the right position and the mountains in the background. Also, we needed a lake with easy access to build the underwater platform for the talent to stand on. We blocked the scene outside the water to calculate the exact distance between each woman and then started building the platforms inside the lake. Finally, in post-production, Shape and Light was able to create a perfect mirrored image out of the original shot.

The scene at dusk in the agave field is one of my favourites. I believe that the colour palette was in our minds since the beginning of the project but the scene, as it is now, started to take shape during location scouts. That’s when we decided to have the artisans travelling on dolly tracks between the agave rows to create the feeling of an effortless movement. 

The flaming pile of piñas is such a beautiful piece of set design and lighting. The location already had an epic quality but there was a lot of work to build the pile and create that atmosphere. Interestingly, a special permit is required to move piñas around in Jalisco. You could go to jail if you are doing it without a proper licence. Anyway, each one of those pinãs weighed more than 100 pounds. Look at the scene and do the math. Add to that lighting, smoke, and pyro… It was one of our biggest setups, at night, at the end of a long day. But when we looked at Laura [the talent] in that dress standing on the top of the pile, we knew it was worth it.

LBB> What was the hardest challenge you faced on this campaign, and how did you overcome it?

Victor> September is the rainy season in Jalisco. We learned that the hard way as it down poured on our first day, just as we were about to shoot some beautiful agave fields under a magical afternoon light. When the rain stopped, it was already nighttime, so we brought in some big outdoor lights and illuminated the artisans - it looked really cinematic and magical. It goes to show that when you try to make the most out of a situation, you may just end up loving the result.

Tino> On the first day, in the agave fields, we had a big storm. The set became a mud pool. The wardrobe was ruined, the equipment got stuck and I had no idea if we had the shot. When the rain stopped, we had to decide if we would move to the next setup or try to stay there to get the shot. Moving meant dragging all the equipment uphill, but it was the right decision because we were able to shoot the other three setups we had until the end of the day. It was a very difficult first day. 

One challenge I was not expecting was the logistics. The moves were incredibly long. I can’t remember spending so much time in a van during a production. We spent around 20 days in Jalisco but in the end, it felt much longer than that. On the last shoot day when we were picked up at the hotel before dawn, we jumped in the wrong van. Only when the driver said he was going to the airport we realised. I remember thinking ‘Well, maybe I should just stay in this van!’.

LBB> How does this campaign continue or evolve Patrón Tequila’s previous branding journey?

Kathy> Patrón previously launched a campaign with award-winning artist Jessie Reyes, that featured an a cappella version of the ballad ‘Gracias a la Vida’ to honour the natural ingredients masterfully combined to create a simply perfect tequila. The campaign is a modern and unexpected take on a classic song paired with strikingly beautiful and natural imagery that echoes the Patrón production process. This recent campaign, ‘Our Hands’ is a continuation of our brand journey, further emphasising our pride in authentic tequila production and Mexican heritage. Both campaigns illustrate that people are truly the pulse of Patrón – we take care of our Familia and community, who put so much dedication and passion into preserving traditional production methods to handcraft the world’s finest tequila.

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MullenLowe U.S., Wed, 15 Feb 2023 17:11:00 GMT