When you’re looking to produce an engaging TV commercial on a tight budget and even tighter timescale, you’ll need a video production agency that is agile and brimming with creativity. That’s exactly what Longleat got when they chose to work with us for their latest campaign.  

Longleat is the UK’s number 1 safari park and something of a national institution. Back in early February their newest attraction, Koala Creek, was set to open at the end of March. It would make them the only place in England to host koalas. The Astonishing Kingdom needed a video campaign worthy of the name – and they needed it fast. Enter Skylark, who blew them away with their Natural History credentials and experience working with actors (of the human and non-human variety).  

AUDIENCE FIRST 

With any project, identifying the audience is the starting point. We do thorough audience profiling before putting any ideas down on paper to make sure that the creative will genuinely resonate. With Longleat, the demographic was as wide as they come – all ages from all walks of life come from miles around seeking a memorable day out. Diversity was key. Our next creative steer came from Longleat’s marketing team, who shared the genuine reactions of their creative agency to the cuddly new arrivals. ‘Squeal inducing’ and ‘jaw-dropping’ were very real emotional responses felt by all. After an extensive brainstorm, our Koala Creek TV concept was born. We all agreed that we needed to place the visitor experience front and centre.  

 

PREP, PREP, PREP 

I always say pre-production is the most important phase of producing any video, but especially for a larger-scale brand film or commercial. During creative development we collaborate with our clients on every aspect – script, storyboard, casting and music to name a few. This is when all the creative decisions are made. On a short turn around production, both sides need to be highly responsive.  Thankfully the guys at Longleat are something of a dream-team and we found that we were on the same page every step of the way. Daily updates ensured we kept well on track for an early March shoot.  

We developed an intimate and visually striking filming style that put the focus on the faces of the awe-inspired (and often hilarious) cast. Enigmatic close-ups of the koalas themselves would build a playful sense of mystery throughout the ad until the final reveal. This was a big departure from the brand’s previous show-and-tell productions. A funky finger-clicking track ensured this would be a memorable and highly shareable commercial. 

 

  

STAR POWER 

They say never work with children or animals. Well, with this commercial we beg to differ. Our human cast was an absolute dream, particularly 10-year-old Joe and Kizzy, whose squeal-induced performances stole the show. And I can’t think of a more perfect star than Maizie the koala, the Creek’s resident celebrity. Her natural charisma and easy-going charm ensured that we were able to capture some absolute gold, under the careful supervision of her expert keepers and with a bit of coaxing via a vast selection of eucalyptus. I was particularly honoured to be almost nose-to-nose with our star in-between takes. Filming in 4k on the Red Weapon camera at a mesmerising 120 frames per second allowed us to capture some elegant shots for a truly cinematic look and feel.   

 

DELIVERING WITH STYLE 

With the footage in the can, there was no resting on our laurels. Within five days we had the first draft for Longleat’s team to review in our viewing room at our Bristol office. One week later we’d delivered a multi-versioned second draft with three cutdowns for social media. Two weeks later we’re ready for broadcast, with playful, high energy commercial focused totally on the Longleat experience. It has nearly 30k views of the ad on Facebook alone and we’re repurposing the footage to produce three bumper ads for Longleat’s new sponsorship deal with National Geographic. Meanwhile, since Longleat’s media campaign went live, footfall to the park has increased by nearly 6,500 guests. This is a 60% uplift from last year and so far achieving double-digit percentage uplift on budgeted footfall. Not bad for six weeks work.   

 

Koala Creek is open now. Take a look at our Longleat Case Study for more on how we delivered the project. If you’re interested in making a television commercial for your business please get in touch here.

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James Apr 1st, 2019

About James Sampson

James is Creative Director at Skylark Media. He was assistant director for the likes of Casualty and Doctor Who, where he honed his knack for combining compelling storytelling with stunning visuals alongside production management. In his spare time he draws and paints, as well as storyboarding, editing and directing music videos for up-and-coming musicians.