Watch most new films and you take for granted those elements rendered in CGI – you almost forget they’re there. So why go to the ‘effort’ of doing it for real when CGI is often more cost-effective? This is a dilemma which was raised in an important meeting the other day.

“Why bother doing it when it’s easier to fake it?”

Somebody in a meeting.

For one thing, TV advertising is not simply reliant on cost. Value yes, not cost. People now gravitate towards honesty, trust, and that thing which was once called conversation which we now called viral.

Sony, along with Fallon went to spectacular effort for their first Bravia ad making damn sure that the ‘behind the scenes’ filming had almost as much tender loving as the ad itself. Now this entire spot could have been produced in CGI and we’d still think it was cool, but what helped it transcend from cool to something people ‘loved’ were the production values required to do it for real.

Wherever possible brands are encouraged to embrace old production values and to put money into doing an ad the ‘hard way’. In fact Honda went very public with their behind the scenes for ‘Difficult is worth doing’ – even producing a blog. Honda and W+K both knew of the enormous PR gains and connotative benefits of this approach, as did Sony with Fallon London‘s Bravia spots. What made these win so many fans and awards was the solid big idea, but to really engage the wider public it’s usually better done the ‘old-fashioned way’ and ‘do a DVD’ – offering people a chance to prove the brand’s honest credentials with a ‘making of.

What encouraged me to put this post together was BBH’s latest spot for Barclaycard entitled ‘Rollercoaster’ (watch it here). The behind the scenes were more entertaining than the ad. It appears at first as if there’s no way it could have been done for real. And you’d be right – to a point. The track was real (40′ of it), the buildings are real, and even all the camera angles are real. And so despite CGI effects from the Mill, there’s quite a compelling build story behind the scenes. That said the ad failed to really grab me, nor did the ‘Making of’. I fear that’s due to a boring product and a slightly weak big idea: It just lacked that little bit of soul.

“There’s an extra bit of soul that comes from seeing stuff that’s real”

Richard Flintham, ECD Fallon London.

Richard sums the whole process up pretty well there. In everything we try and create we’re searching for that extra bit of soul. It’s what turns something good into something great. Keeping it real keeps the lid on that soul, and for me it won the last decade, and despite it being impressive, CGI is in reality, Fake.

So here they are: Two of my favorite ads of the last ten years. Both  are  strong ideas brilliantly brought to life. Real life.

Sony Bravia ‘Balls’ – The making of.

Sony Bravia ‘Balls’ – The Ad.

Honda ‘Difficult is worth doing’ – The making of.

Honda ‘Difficult is worth doing’ – The Ad.