We analyze the best commercial of the first decade of this century: “Bouncing Balls”, by Sony.
It was the year 2005 when Sony launched its Bravia TV, whose colors were unrivaled in the products of the competition. And his advertising campaign was not going to be left behind. The campaign “Color like no other” marked a turning point in the world of advertising, the kick-off to what we know today as “Branded Content” bringing together dozens of bloggers taking photos at the set.
More than 250,000 colored balls were used and the budget exceeded 25 million dollars. The objective? create a strong visual impact but convey a simple message: “Color like no others”. Today, in our top commercials of history, we analyze Sony’s “Bouncing Balls”: The best commercial of the decade.
Introducing the new Bravia TV
In 2005, announcing televisions was a challenge for the creative departments of the advertising agencies. An commercial, no matter how spectacular, was seen in the old TVs with cathode tubes, the classic televisions with “ass”. The technology at that time could only offer 32 “screens on a television that weighed about 30 kg.
The new Sony TV had a new LCD screen with which he wanted to convince those skeptics to buy a flat television. That year, Sony had had a fall in profits and had to lay off more than 10,000 people in a restructuring that shaken the foundations of the multinational. They needed a bang on the table, to recreate an iconic consumer product like the Walkman or the Trinitron TV. So they made an economic effort to allocate a large item to the marketing department and promote their new line of LCD TVs: Bravia.
Preparing the “Bouncing Balls” commercial
Thus, Sony and Fallon, one of its advertising agencies traveled to San Francisco, cut the most mountainous streets and proposed a whole declaration of intentions: “We are a committed brand and will continue to develop and market innovative products” were the words of David Patton, vice president of communications for Sony Europe.
Fallon’s creatives wanted to give prominence to the claim “Like no other”, since the new Bravia sought to recreate the colors perfectly. According to creative director Richard Flintham “We decided that color would be the highlight of the product, so we proposed creating a celebration of color, but instead of an illustration we wanted something fleeting, a moment that would be recorded in your mind forever.”
With this premise, art director Juan Cabral thought of traveling to San Francisco to throw a million colored balls down the street and film them. The pre-production lasted eight months, time in which they sought to recreate this idea. They built cannons similar to the handles of express tennis balls for the occasion and started looking for colored balls.
The initial idea of using a million balls was discarded after they could not be produced in time for filming. To get the maximum number of balls were all stores in the country to buy them.“WE leave all the children in the United States without colored balls for a while” according to Flintham. The result was 250,000 balls to shoot the ad.
The filming of “Balls”
Thus, in a hot month of July the filming of the commercial could begin. It was quite an event for the city, in which the brand allowed viewers and bloggers to come to immortalize the moment with their cameras. Unintentionally, it was the starting signal for what we know today as “Branded Content” where the spectators viralized the moments of the shooting and the bloggers told their sensations on their web pages.
Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig, they installed six cameras strategically, including a high-speed Photosonic. The idea was to film the commercial as if it were a documentary. Also, photographer Peter Funch installed several cameras to capture as many photographs as possible for the print campaign.
The moment of truth
The creatives, directors and all the professionals hired for filming had to be protected with equipment borrowed from San Francisco’s riot police. During these three days of recording, 23 camera operators were employed (when there are usually four) and they had to use nets to collect the maximum number of balls to re-launch them the next day. They also hired skaters to pick up those that escaped from the networks. But such was the expectation that many volunteers came with their pockets full to return the balls.
The acceleration of the balls was such that several impacts caused occasional bruises on the team members and damage to cars and windows. The repair of all the elements was made by the brand.
The final result
All the resulting footage was assembled deliciously in slow motion and with the version of the Swedish song “Heartbeats” versioned by the musician José González. According to Flintham, “I liked José González a lot and did not want to use his songs in advertising, but this song fit perfectly, it could not be another”. The song maintained a natural calm ideal for slow-motion images.
The campaign was a resounding success. Its world premiere was on November 6 at the break of the game between Manchester United and Chelsea of the Premier League. The ad was also shown in cinemas on Imax screens in Europe and Australia and printed media with images of the spot were flooded.
The “Bouncing Balls” commercial of Sony won that year the Grand Prix of Cannes and was later considered the best commercial of the first decade of the S.XXI. Later, the “Like no other” campaign followed with two more ads: “Paint” and “Playdoh” that although they were excellent ads, did not reach the excitement and expectation of the first. The simplicity and naturalness of “Bouncing Balls” was hard to beat.
“Bouncing Balls” by Sony in HD
Later, Sony would release a new version recovering the original material and launch it in HD for the new campaign of 2010.
Making of “Bouncing Balls”
We also leave you with the fantastic making of the Sony ad, in which we see how the operators were protected, as well as the sound of the sound of throwing all the balls through the streets of San Francisco.