Absolut Protest Turns Into Pillow Fight

Absolut has commissioned a Montevideo crowd to hold a pillow fight for “Protest”, a 60 second TV advertisement. Riot police stand their ground as protesters wave yellow flags, chant and shake their fists. Low stringed music provides a sense of impending menace. An officer stands in the middle with a megaphone, warning protesters to move back and preparing the police to charge. All of a sudden, out of the riot comes a white pillow. The threatening music gives way to the joyful sounds of the French song, “Boum” sung by Charles Trenet. The pillow harmlessly hits the shields of two policemen sparking off a massive peaceful feather-filled pillow fight. Residents from the buildings join in. Pilots in ultralight planes above drop feather pillow bombs. The tagline: “In An Absolut World”.

Protesters and riot police in Absolut TV ad

Click on the image below to play the video.

“Protest” is part of a global campaign entitled “In an Absolut World”, including two other TV ads, “Swimming” and “Taxi”.

Protester and riot police pillow fight in Absolut TV ad


Absolut Protest was developed at New York advertising agency TBWA/Chiat/Day by executive creative director Gerry Graf, creative director Rob Smiley, assistant creative director/copywriter Pierre Lipton, assistant creative director/art director Pam Fujimoto, copywriter Alexandra Sann, art director Jason Lucas, and senior agency producer Nathy Aviram.

Filming in Montevideo, Uruguay, was directed by Fredrik Bond, via MJZ, Los Angeles, with director of photography Guillermo Navarro.

Editor was Rick Russell at Final Cut, New York. Colorist was Tim Masick at Company 3. Sound was designed at Marshall Grupp.

Protesters and riot police in Absolut TV ad

Visual effects were developed at The Mill, New York, by creative director/lead Flame artist/VFX supervisor Angus Kneale, VFX producer Jo Arghiris, VFX supervisor Michael Gibson, flame artists Cole Schreiber and Tony Robbins, combustion Greg Kilpatrick and Winston Lee, support Mary Casey, CG producer Camila De Biaggi, CG supervisor/lead animator Ben Smith, CG artists Wyatt Savarese, Emily Meger, Kevin Ives, Sarah Edwards and Andres Eguiguren.

Microlights drop pillows in Absolut TV ad

The Mill’s 3D team had three challenges posed to them — to make the shoot of 500 extras feel like 17,000 protestors and police, to provide clouds of ambient feathers to the pillow explosions and to build CG ultralight aircrafts to drops pillow bombs. CG supervisor/lead animator Ben Smith arranged a motion capture session, which recorded the movements of actors performing variations of the pillow fight. These movements were then mapped out in Massive, where Ben had built a “brain” that closely simulated the actions of the live actors into the movements of digital protestors and police. By blending together the gestures and activities to create a fluid feel, it becomes virtually impossible to tell the difference between CG and live extras.

The Mill used Maya’s new nCloth system to accurately simulate the pillows and nets for the ultralight bombing sequences. By replacing all the live pillow elements with CG doubles, the sequences could be finely choreographed to fit the requirements of the shots. To design the vast array of feathers swarming the crowd, the team created various layers of particle and volumetric effects that were then composited together in Flame. Finally, the team rebuilt a squadron of CG ultralight aircrafts from photos taken of one ultralight plane on the shoot. The 3D team rebuilt every detail of the planes including the flight surfaces and controls, which gave their motion a very realistic feel.

Lyrics for Boum

La pendule fait tic-tac-tic-tic
Les oiseaux du lac pic-pac-pic-pic
Glou-glou-glou font tous les dindons
Et la jolie cloche ding-dang-dong

Mais… boum!
Quand notre coeur fait boum
Tout avec lui dit boum
Et c’est l’amour qui s’éveille

Il chante «Love in Bloom»
Au rythme de ce boum
Qui redit boum à l’oreille

Tout a changé depuis hier et la rue
A des yeux qui regardent aux fenêtres
Y’a du lilas et y’a des mains tendues
Sur la mer le soleil va paraître

L’astre du jour fait boum
Tout avec lui dit boum
Quand notre coeur fait boum-boum

Le vent dans les bois fait hou-hou
La biche aux abois fait mê-ê-ê
La vaisselle cassée fait fric-fric-frac
Et les pieds mouillés font flic-flic-flac

Mais… boum!
Quand notre coeur fait boum
Tout avec lui dit boum
L’oiseau dit boum, c’est l’orage

L’éclair qui, lui, fait boum
Et le bon Dieu dit boum
Dans son fauteuil de nuages

Car mon amour est plus vif que l’éclair
Plus léger qu’un oiseau, qu’une abeille
Et s’il fait boum, s’il se met en colère
Il entraîne avec lui des merveilles

Le monde entier fait boum
Tout avec lui dit boum
Quand notre coeur fait boum-boum