Sony Bravia creates a 'domino' effect

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | December 11, 2008
The latest ad has been shot in India over five days with larger than life coloured dominoes

In & #BANNER1 & # September last year, Bates 141 Singapore won the highly coveted Sony Bravia account for the Southeast Asia region, following a multi-agency pitch. The business was earlier handled by DY&R Singapore.

During the pitch process, four teams from Bates 141 offices in the region - Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and India - were called to work on the pitch.

"We were very keen to win the account as Sony is a very prestigious account to work on," says Sonal Dabral, regional executive creative director, Asia, Bates 141. Sony Bravia has a legacy of some great creative work done by Fallon London and DY&R Singapore. Fallon has worked on campaigns such as Paint, Balls, Rabbits, while DY&R Singapore worked on the Pyramid campaign.

The latest campaign, Domino City, is based on the same philosophy - 'Colour Like No Other'. The ad has been shot in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.

The brief given to Bates 141 was simple and single-minded - that it must speak of the colour capabilities of the new Bravia (Full HD 1080) range and must also have an iconic feel to it.

That's when Jaisalmer came into the picture. Dabral is fascinated with the city because of its richness and history. In fact, this is the third film that he has shot there. The first one was for National Handlooms, while he was at Lintas (Lowe Lintas now), and the second was for Asian Paints, while he was at O&M.

The minute-long film starts early in the morning in a city in Rajasthan and follows the city's people through little lanes, temples, forts and palaces. People are busy with their everyday chores, while dominoes of varying colours are falling one after another in a cascade. The dominoes are falling right next to the people, who don't seem to notice them. In the final scene, the falling dominoes open up as a rosette with the colours of a rainbow.

Why Jaisalmer, we ask? "It provided the much needed backdrop to highlight the spectacular colour and movement," explains Dabral. Since Rajasthan is a very monochromatic environment, with lots of shades of beige, the colours in the city come from the attire the people wear, the colourful turbans and skirts. And when the coloured dominoes fall beside the city folk, it offers a greater visual appeal.

The film has been shot by Nic Finlayson, who treated it in a very observational manner. "That is why the ad looks more like a documentary than an ad film. There aren't too many sudden moves by the camera or zooming in and out of scenes," says Dabral.

Though it is shot in an Indian locale, the background score is very international. "This was purposefully done because, while watching the ad, people shouldn't feel that it's an ad made just for India. The ad must hold universal appeal," specifies Dabral.

Rob Barbato, who belongs to a band called Darker My Love, has done the sound, while Song Zu, Singapore, has provided the soundtrack.

Close to 160 dominoes, 8 feet by 4 feet, each weighing about 30 kg, were used. These were made of plywood in Delhi and carted in five trucks to Jaisalmer. A number of carpenters, too, were transported to the location so that damaged dominoes could be repaired quickly.

The ad includes three locations in Rajasthan: Jodhpur, Pushkar and Jaisalmer. There is also a shot of the Taj Mahal, but the dominoes around the area are computer-generated images, as are the final rosette dominoes. The post-production work and animation was done by Oktobor in New Zealand.

Two teams worked continuously during the five-day shoot. One team set up the dominoes and worked with the carpenters through the night for the next day's shoot, while the second team worked on the shoot itself. Dominoes, in colourful order, had to be arranged equidistantly and had to be held by people, so that they didn't fall off before the count and fell only in a chain effect.

China was one of the locations initially selected, where the Great Wall of China would have been the natural choice. However, the idea was scrapped because the Olympics were being held at around the same time. India was then chosen. The commercial is being aired in Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, some parts of Africa and the Gulf countries.

Dabral shares some of the difficult moments they had while shooting this ad. He says, "While in the Thar Desert, the winds were blowing very strongly and the dominoes just would not stay. The teams would prop them up and wait until the director said 'action' and then just pray that the dominoes wouldn't give way beforehand."

Close to 70 per cent of the film has been shot real world and computer graphics have been used for the rest.

R. Balakrishnan, chairman and chief creative officer, Lowe Lintas, is of the opinion that the ad is okay. "I didn't find this very spectacular. The earlier ads, especially the Paint one, were great, probably because it was one of the first in the series of Sony Bravia ads."

He thinks that the premise of colour needs something more hard hitting to stand out really well.