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Lenovo's heavyweight commercial for the 2008 Olympics

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | August 27, 2008
The ad was created out of Lenovo's global creative hub in Bengaluru by Ogilvy & Mather

Lenovo, which & #BANNER1 & # was one of the partners for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, released a new ad for the Lenovo ThinkPad X300 at the time. The ad was meant to be released in the US for the opening ceremony of the Olympics, but later, it was decided that it would also be released in the Indian market and many other countries, including China, at the same time.

The ad was initiated out of the global hub for Lenovo, which was set up last year in Bengaluru. The thought for the ThinkPad X300 is that it's heavy on features and light on weight.

The ad starts with three buses full of Sumo wrestlers getting out on a busy street. They begin marching forward and then start running. All the wrestlers are running within the outline of an aeroplane and soon start flying upward. The people on the street are startled to see the heavy men take off so easily.

Rahul Agarwal, executive director, global marketing hub and marketing communication, Lenovo, tells afaqs!, "Though the ThinkPad X300 was launched about three months ago, we made this ad now because it takes a while for a product to get momentum and this was a good time."

Prateek Srivastava, group president, O&M, South, says, "Sumo wrestlers weren't chosen to reflect the association with the Olympics, but because they are recognised all over the world and would appeal to all audiences."

Rod Vallis, creative director, Ogilvy Global Hub, Bengaluru, explains, "The commercial was created in a fantastic manner. The wrestlers actually flying into the air... all of it was filmed in-camera." That is, there were no special effects involved and it was all shot in reality.

Rahul Agarwal

Prateek Srivastava

Russell Barrett

Manish Bhatt
About 40 Sumo wrestlers were used for the commercial; in the final shots, however, it appears as though about a hundred were present. The flying effect was created by using the aluminium framework of an aeroplane. This framework was attached to a crane. The Sumo wrestlers ran adhering to the shape of the aluminium framework, and finally, when the crane lifted the framework up, it looked like the Sumo wrestlers were flying.

Vallis explains how they got the wrestlers' feet to lift off the ground. "Here, the wrestlers are lying on their back and moving their legs. It was filmed against a blue screen and the camera was finally turned around to get the final effect."

afaqs! spoke to a few creative directors for their opinion on this commercial. Russell Barrett, creative director, Leo Burnett, thinks the ad was really well done and quite "bizarre". He says, "The size of it is such that there's no missing it." All simple ads are good ads, he explains, and this one fits the bill just right.

Manish Bhatt, executive creative director and vice-president, Contract, proffers a different point of view: "The execution is good looking, but the idea is simplistic and simplistic is not a nice thing here." He feels that a bit more story would have added value to the ad.

Lenovo refused to divulge any details about the expenditure incurred on the ad.

The commercial was shot in Sydney, Australia, in a very busy central business area. The entire area was shut off for a weekend for the shooting. Simon Duggan was the director of photography for the 60 second TVC. The makeup and hair was by Katherine, and the wardrobe by Karen Deperthuis. The production company was Luscious International, with producer Tim Berriman and director Tina Bull.

Other media employed apart from the regular marketing machinery includes direct mailers, catalogues and seeding products.