Margaret Hood examines how APL came up with an exciting ad at half the
The latest Nestle Rowntree’s Fruit Pastille commercial is not a triumph
of post-production special-effects. Yet it is a glowing example of the
tricks employed by creative teams to grab the attention of the youth
market while the budget-master is standing over them.
Nestle Rowntree’s agency, Ammirati Puris Lintas, made the film to
provoke youngsters to find something new in every exposure. Children and
adolescents are notorious for their grasp of complex messages.
Adults are dazed and confused by this film’s incongruous speed. That is
because the whole film was shot at varying speeds. In short, if your
brain can’t hack the commercial, you’re probably too old for the target
‘The film was based on camera technique,’ Mike Wells, the producer of
the ad, which was directed by Jan Kounen through Helen Langridge
‘Jan has a highly visual style and, rather than relying on post-
production special-effects, he used different camera speeds. He created
the illusion of cameras zapping around at speed,’ Wells continues.
The brief was to ‘communicate the fact that there is more to eating a
Rowntree’s Fruit Pastille than you think’. APL’s solution was to
dramatise the product attributes - glittery, chewy, juicy and fruity -
with a studio set and a lot of water, to show what happens to a groovy
geezer when he eats a green pastille.
It features a youth eating a Fruit Pastille and his brain instructing
his teeth to chew, which they do courtesy of galley slaves inside his
head who are awash with Rowntree’s green Fruit Pastille juice.
A team of 16 ‘slaves’ have to row to make his teeth chew, with the aid
of a series of pulleys and chains, constructed on three floors.
The creative team, John Peacock and Frank Cookson, had to arrange a
police escort to transport the constructed teeth to the studio.
The slaves are soaked in pastille juice in a tank, which, thankfully,
was filled with nothing more harmful than non-toxic green paint. For the
benefit of the slaves, the tank was also heated.
The pre-production work for this lavish execution took six weeks. And it
took two weeks to build the set. The venue was Three Mile Island in
London’s East End.
According to Mills, the chosen location was cheaper than alternatives
such as Shepperton and Pinewood studios. Also, because the studio had
concrete rather than wooden floors, it was less prone to damage from the
studio water tanks. The venue was once home to Edwin Shirley Trucking,
the stage prop transporters.
‘It is cheap and you can do pretty much what you like to those stages
because of the concrete floors,’ Mills says. ‘But it is not the most
pleasant of places to work because it isn’t fully equipped. Don’t take
things such as rigging and catering for granted.’
The copywriter, John Peacock, says they chose the studio because ‘it
cost half of what it should have’.
The production work did not go unnoticed. Tony Banks MP turned up with
the Mexican ambassador during the shoot and asked what was going on.
Peacock, his art director, Frank Cookson, and the production staff
showed Banks how the giant teeth worked.
The 30-second ad, ‘brain’, did not make any money for Helen Langridge
Associates. ‘We didn’t lose money on this, but the cost was considerably
less to the client than it might have been,’ Wells says. ‘We had to put
our own resources into this to make it work because we wanted this film
on our reel.’