BMP DDB Needham has staged a dramatic stunt for Sony’s first range of
wide-screen televisions by throwing a man out of a helicopter to create
the pounds 2.5 million launch commercial.
The ad, which breaks on TV and in cinemas this week, illustrates the
impact of widescreen TV on the viewer by depicting a man having an ‘out
of body’ experience while watching television on Sony’s Trinitron
widescreen format TV.
He falls through the sky, gripping his armchair, narrowly missing an
aeroplane during his descent.
At the end of the film, he drops back into his living room and, seconds
later, when his cat lands on his lap, it becomes apparent that the
adventure happened while he was watching television.
Guy Manos, a world-champion skydiver, jumped with an armchair from a
height of 12,000 feet, wearing a specially designed parachute underneath
He and the camera operator had to perform 19 jumps from this height, at
a location over Simi Valley in California. Before each jump, Manos shook
hands with his assistants in case he didn’t see them again.
By the end of the shoot, there were more than 30 broken armchairs
scattered around the valley, two of which were never found.
The filming was unpredictable and the production team had difficulty
sticking to the storyboard. For instance, Manos refused to be strapped
into the chair because there was a danger it would flip uncontrollably,
creating a whiplash effect which could have broken his neck.
The commercial’s director, Daniel Barber, hired a top Hollywood crew,
which had experience on big-budget action films such as Point Break and
Barber was the only one of the four directors to pitch for the job who
suggested a live-action interpretation of the script. He said: ‘We got
so much more by doing it for real - the fear factor just cannot be
recreated in post-production.’
Jerry Hollens, who art directed the film, agreed that they couldn’t have
done it any other way: ‘With technology these days, we could have faked
it and filmed most of the stunts in a cosy studio, but it would not have
had the energy and excitement of actually throwing someone out of a
Barber directed the commercial through Rose Hackney Barber, and
Hollens’s copywriter at BMP was Mike Boles.
Geoff Muge, the group marketing communications manager at Sony consumer
products, commented: ‘This campaign is designed to create real
excitement around our widescreen television range by dramatising the
sensory and emotional benefits of the format.’
The ad will be broadcast into next year, running during top films,
sporting events and series such as London’s Burning and Soldier Soldier.