When agency Cramer-Krasselt wanted to highlight Cat’s Pride ‘Litter for Good’ program, they needed a campaign that not only alluded to the product's benefits in a fun and memorable way but also highlighted the brand’s charitable endeavours. The spots, helmed by The Embassy’s David Casey, feature Bobby and Charlene, two lovable feline characters extolling the virtues of Cat’s Pride in mockumentary style testimonials.
Facing the current pandemic restrictions a live-action location shoot was ruled out, so The Embassy proposed making the adverts fully CG, allowing for full art direction over every aspect of the spots. Casey commented, “Over 90% of our projects pre-covid involved collaborating remotely with creative teams across the globe, so the transition during the current situation was seamless and hassle free for all involved.”
As part of the initial treatment process The Embassy team focussed on each cat personality which would become the creative inspiration for the look and feel for locations and the cats themselves. Bobby is a no nonsense, tough, Maine Coon while Charlene is a bubbly, Gen-Z, Russian Blue.
After sourcing a voice artist for each cat and recording the performance, The Embassy worked closely with Mathew Griffiths and Rob Doucet, editors at Cycle Media, to provide a pre-vis for the creative team at Cramer-Krasselt. This helped establish an early look that allowed the team to hone the performance and timings. All recording and editorial sessions were conducted remotely between Vancouver, Chicago and Milwaukee.
All aspects of the visual effects production were also handled remotely led by VFX Supervisor Michael Blackbourn, Asset Supervisor Paul Copeland and Compositing Supervisor Nick Whiteley. In tandem with the character design, the visual effects team built out each of the characters' environments in CG based on real world reference. Each location was inspired by the personality of the cats themselves and alluded heavily to the personalities of the cat’s owner.
The Embassy balanced the numerous challenges faced when animating animals that needed to look realistic, but that also have human qualities. The lip sync was an important aspect of this with the vfx team careful to avoid strong human mouth shapes which would break the reality of the cat characters. Focusing on accentuating animalistic traits in body posing and animation helped strike a balance between a convincing emotional performance and more cat-like expressions.
In the final lighting and compositing phases the visual effects team paid particular attention to the fur and eyes to help breathe life and personality into each cat, as Casey notes, “Our fur team were super excited to groom Bobby and Charlene, they went to great lengths to gather reference, even taking detailed photographic reference of their own cats!”
After setting up shop in LA earlier this year with new EP and MD Kenny Solomon, The Embassy’s US base offered local support to the agency and client, providing creative solutions to any issue faced during remote digital production. Casey commented, “Despite the challenges posed by coronavirus, we were able to pivot the brief and ultimately create an entire CG advert remotely and from scratch, meaning we could source the perfect ambassadors for Cat’s Pride.”
Client › Cat's Pride
Agency › Cramer Krasselt
Art Director › Jim Root
Copywriter › Sandy Derhovsepian
Creative Director › Chad Verly
Executive Creative Director › Todd Stone
Executive Producer › Dinah Goris
Production & Direction › The Embassy
Founder / Executive Producer › Winston Helgason
Managing Director / Executive Producer (US) › Kenny Solomon
Creative Director › David Casey
VFX Supervisor › Michael Blackbourn
VFX Producer › Danielle Kinsey
Associate VFX Producer › Annie-Claude Lapierre
Asset Supervisor › Paul Copeland
Comp Supervisor › Nick Whiteley
CG Artists › Austin Anderson, Dmitri Bajenov, Gueschem Degni, Terry Zengbao Liu, Mike Lowes, Kenneth Polonski, Kim Savory, Wes Lee
Compositors › Marc-Andre Gray, Riley Gray, Carl Granstrom, David Koss
Editorial › Cycle Media
Editors › Matthew Griffiths, Rob Doucet
Cat's Pride » Charlene
Cat's Pride » Bobby