The moment the Daewoo ’headache’ script landed on the desk of Kate
O’Malloy, the agency producer for Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters’ first
thought was that it was great. Her second thought was how on earth was
she going to find a way to do it?
The script called for two Daewoo cars, the Espero and the Nexia, to be
shown tumbling through a black, open space before the viewer realises
that the cars are, in fact, in water and are dissolving much as headache
The answer to her prayers was Asylum, the model-makers, who suggested
that instead of using the life-size casing of the Daewoo cars, they make
two replicas at one sixth of the real size. This took five weeks to
complete - each car had to be identical to the real-life model, or the
viewer would distrust the ad.
The models of the two cars were painted silver to aid lighting and one
of them was punctured with tiny holes - smaller than pinpricks - to
create the bubbles.
A week before the shoot, the director, Daniel Barber, asked the
model-makers to fit suspension on the undercarriages of the models, so
that they looked more realistic and appeared less static as they moved
through the water.
Then came the week of the shoot. The ideal water tank, measuring 30 feet
square and 16 feet deep, was found in Essex. Two model-mover
contraptions were constructed especially for the project and tested in
A team of divers (some from Asylum, others, such as the cameraman, Steve
Chivers, just happened to be working on the commercial) was drafted in
to control the movements of the model-movers.
One consequence of shooting an ad underwater - grit and dirt suspended
in the water become obvious on film - was addressed by washing the tank
out and lining it with black velvet. The tanks were then filled with
water that was continually filtered, and the model-movers were attached
to the now immersed model cars.
Compressed air tanks that had been fixed to the undersides of the cars
pumped air through a thousand tiny holes creating the ’fizzing’ bubble
effect seen in the final ad.
In such a controlled environment, where shooting schedules are
unaffected by daylight, it took just two days to complete the underwater
In post-production, Henry was used to erase all evidence of the
model-movers and to insert the shots of the cars ’dissolving’ into a
glass of water. And so it was that the final scene - where the presenter
seems to do the impossible and drink the cars in a glass of water - was,
in fact, the easiest one of all.