How did you come up with the idea behind ‘the dolphin whisperer’? We loved the idea of an ordinary couple in an extraordinary situation. These days, we all film and share everything, so this became the premise for telling our connected devices story. "You’re the dolphin whisperer, babe" was the director Ruben Fleischer’s idea – he’d identified that virals always had a goofy "in the moment" soundbite.
What was the biggest challenge? We couldn’t be seen to be mistreating the dolphin, even an animatronic one. We enlisted marine biologist experts to advise us on how to act. Their advice was not to touch a beached dolphin, so having our hero "speaking dolphin" to rescue it was an improvised solution that worked for everyone and made the ad even funnier.
Talk us through the construction of the dolphin. The company we used had created a baby dolphin before but it never had anywhere near the articulation we wanted. Ours blinked, its tail moved up, down, left and right, and it had a functioning blowhole. Ironically, however, it couldn’t get wet.
How did you find the perfect beach? Originally, we considered Thailand – but that didn’t give us scope for "visually" going around the world in the rest of the ad. Then we found Llandudno beach in South Africa – it was perfect. Days from shooting, we realised the swell wasn’t right. Finding the small bay in Froggy Pond was a last-minute solution. It was tiny but shooting from the wife’s point of view overcame this and added to its viral authenticity (we actually used the footage shot from the phone in the finished ad).
How easy was it to choose and secure The Black Keys for the soundtrack? The track [Tighten Up]was picked early on. Paul Watts, the editor, liked its drive and it had the moments that were perfect to edit our story’s four phases against: the rescue, the product moment, going viral and becoming a cultural phenomenon. The client loved the track – they were sold on the first listen.
What’s your next project? One of the most interesting challenges we’re working on is the completion of our "container building". We worked on the Homebase "containers" spot a couple of years ago and actually bought the used containers afterwards. We plan to turn them into… er… a space.