CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/GUINNESS - The latest ad from Guinness is in keeping with its surreal style, James Hamilton writes

There's a saying that runs along the lines of 'there's only one

thing more boring than listening to your friends' problems: listening to

their dreams'. That's not the case at the Guinness 'dream club' - that

loose association of drinkers, thinkers and rodents which populate

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO's latest ad for Guinness.

'Dream club' is the fourth in the line of the 'good things come to those

who wait' spots for the brewer and the third to be directed by Jonathan

Glazer. While stylistically it has more in common with 'surfer' (the

same black-and-white look with the same instantly recognisable voice

artist), it also fits into the 'snail race' scheme - a surreal situation

with an air of plausibility about it.

Stemming from a bout of scriptwriting at AMV in early 2000, the spot is

the story of an anonymous man sitting in an anonymous pub situated

somewhere in an anonymous eastern European country. He dreams as he

waits for his drink, or he drinks while he waits for his dream. This

night it's the big one - the question we all want the answer to.

'I was adamant early on that if we were going to do a dream, it had to

be something that had a narrative to it which was simple to understand,'

Glazer says. 'That led us to the idea of seeing the secret of life

through a hole in the wall, and the secret of life being very funny,

which would somehow nicely smash any pretence to pieces - you'd have

this intellectual pretence on the one hand and you'd laugh at it on the


Begun in October last year and shot in Budapest in December, 'dream

club' wasn't officially finished until the morning of transmission, with

the writer Walter Campbell making tweaks to the dialogue and music.

'We're always like that,' Campbell admits, 'fiddling about, getting

everything bang on.'

Six months, though, is a near-glacial period of time in ad production,

as Glazer readily admits, albeit blaming the more bestial members of the

cast for the delay. 'It was the squirrels, they took up most of that

time,' he protests.

In addition to dreaming about the meaning of life, the dream club

champion also dreams about squirrels, who, in turn, talk about strange

dreams. This is where it starts to get complicated.

'We had this story where there was a guy who had this fantastic dream

and when he woke up there was this group of people around him who wanted

to understand what the dream was,' Campbell says by way of an


'We were also talking about guy waking up and seeing a sleeping horse

across the bar from him, then we thought squirrels could be

interesting,' he continues, pointing out the rodents' hibernation habits

and the fact that they're 'urban, but also wild'.

Urban and wild they may be, but these squirrels are 100 per cent

computer-generated - the result of an ambitious bout of research and

development by the 3D department of the post-production facility the

Computer Film Company (CFC), which involved intensive scrutiny of three

live specimens in the CFC boardroom.

As for what the ad is actually about, Glazer would rather let viewers

draw their own conclusions. 'I think if they're hearing everything as

we're presenting it to them, they'll be able to make up their own

minds,' he says.

The first rule of dream club is you don't talk about dream club.

Opinion, p23.

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