In December 2018, Wunderman Thompson was asked to remake a UK Kellogg’s campaign that had worked brilliantly there. That’s not the kind of brief that tends to light ad creatives’ fires, but it did ignite creative director, Sinead Roarty, and producer, Jackie Archer. They threw themselves wholeheartedly into the job of making My Perfect Bowl Australian.
“We already knew there was this phenomenon but what we really wanted was to have people who were real advocates for their particular cereal tell us their way of doing it in a way that was in no way coming from us,” Roarty explained. They wanted to create the campaign that made heartland Australia remember its passion for Kellogg’s.
That meant there were to be no actors. “We wanted the genuine banter that would happen between people when they started talking about their perfect breakfast,” Roarty stated.
Jackie Archer brought in reality TV casting director, Lucky Price to work with director, Will Horne, from Airbag. Price turned out to be the campaign’s great asset and he was rewarded by winning Best Community Casting at the Casting Guild of Australia awards on November 29.
Price shared his behind the scenes view of the real-est, Aussie-est, fun-est cereal campaign ever – and a little bit more – with The Stable.
The Stable: What were you looking for in the casting process?
Lucky Price: I was just looking for someone who could spin a good yarn – even better if they came in an unusual package. Every casting process comes with its specific requirements but for all casting, and especially community casting, everyone must be genuine. For this job, I had to find cereal lovers. The spots depended on a genuine connection to the product. So that’s where I started. I asked, “Do you love cereal?” As simple as that. “Are you a cereal monogamist?” was one of my posts. Amazingly, when people are genuinely connected to a product, they speak about it with passion and that translates to camera.
TS: How did you go about it?
LP: How didn’t I go about it? I’ve been community casting for a long time and that’s taught me a few tricks of the trade. I know which stones to turn over, which stones not avoid. I know which stones to stand on top of and yell really loud. Community casting is, first and foremost, about spreading the word, so I try and share the message by any means I can. Social media is a wonderful tool. It hasn’t necessarily made my job easier because I have a lot of applicants – that gives you a lot of chaff to sift through – but it’s a great way to get the word around. I have a data base of 30,000 people who are my community to help me do that. But you also do bizarre things. You stop people in the supermarket who are buying a packet of cereal. You have to do all those things because you never know where the really great stories are going to come from. I’m a bit weird like that.
TS: There must be some wonderful anecdotes?
LP: I have two favourite people. The first is Cat the Mermaid Wright. She is totally dedicated to Rice Bubbles and very particular about rice milk or anything to do with rice. She actually did the video from the back of her van – in which she chooses to live. She parks in car parks at different beaches all over Australia and spends most of her time as a nomad. The whole back of her van is decked out like it’s underwater and I noticed, when she submitted her first video, that she had some musical instruments in the back of her van, so we encouraged her to resubmit a video with her singing a song. She penned a song about why she loves Rice Bubbles so much, and included the lyrics of Snap, Crackle and Pop. You could never write that in a script. Advertising may be predicated on creativity but sometimes life throws you the most amazing packages of humans that you could never expect.
My second favourite is Dane on the Crane. He’s a crane operator from Newcastle. You make assumptions about him when you look at him. You decide that he’s a tough and gruff kind of fellow. But he gets up to the top of his crane every morning, where he has a small bar fridge installed, so he can have Just Right with cold fruit and Greek yoghurt. You’re not expecting that from Dane on The Crane. You’re expecting a very different breakfast, but he’s keeping it nice in the morning.
TS: It’s not easy portraying minority groups in ads, especially when ads are lumped together as they are in ad breaks on TV. It can feel like following fads.
LP: Minority groups are not fads. They’re groups of individuals and they deserve to be represented in the mainstream media. More importantly, they deserve to be represented with complexity, and for it not to be tokenistic or generalisations or stereotypes, which is what can be dangerous about this space. That’s what I think the gift of street and community casting is. You get this wonderful opportunity to present stories with actual complexity and present people with real lives. I think it’s a dangerous space if you’re trying to create an idea about someone. But if you’re presenting a person with realness and complexity, then it’s a wonderful opportunity. I love it when I get to work with a cast about whom people might make an assumption – then, as they get to know them, these people end up being the complete antithesis of what was thought. Because that’s people. People are not one thing. In reality casting, you might be asked to find a bitch, a bimbo and a jock – all these really stereotypical ideas. None of us is one of these things. All of us are all of these things. Our challenge, our responsibility, is to make sure we are presenting complexity, not just stereotypical ideas of people.
TS: Older people dislike the way they are portrayed in ads.
LP: It’s the same as above. You have to look beyond stereotypes and tell stories that push against these preconceived ideas of what a group or a community is “meant to look like”. With the Kellogg’s project, it was important for our client to hit an older demographic in the spots, and while they might have come into the project with certain ideas about what the cast would look like, it took very little for me to convince them that if they wanted me to do the job well, they should wait and see what I found. The older people that we presented in this spot is a group of retired bikers. They’re pushing their late sixties, wearing their leathers, have tattoos all over their arms and are sitting in their man cave talking about putting orange juice on their Just Right in the morning.
The campaign has been also been a huge success for Kellogg’s at a time when it needed to reconnect with Australians. Archer feels that there are two reasons for that – its authenticity and Kellogg’s. “We shot all of our people in their own environments, so there’s a real authenticity about this campaign. And we have to take our hats off to Kellogg’s,” Archer stated. “We broke the normal production process by saying we’re going to start casting months ahead of the shoot and before we get directors on board. The client understood that we really wanted it to feel like reality, by putting the casting on social media platforms. We got 7,000 videos and really took the time to curate it. Kellogg’s was really trusting through the entire process.”
The campaign wasn’t easy to put together. “We travelled all around NSW,” Archer noted. “There was a restricted budget but we still had to make it beautiful, epic, authentic and relatable. We used a skeleton crew with no big lights because we didn’t want to overwhelm people when we went into their homes. The crew members had to be the kind of people who could sit around talk to anyone, even a group of bikies. So there were a lot of production challenges.”
But when Roarty and Archer started getting all the material in, they realised they had gold. Everyone was heartfelt and really genuine. The love they felt for their Kellogg’s was palpable.
“We realised it deserved to be a sixty,” Roarty recalled. “You don’t want to cut out of people’s stories. You want to let them have their natural delivery, go with their natural pauses. You want to make the film beautifully raw and imperfect.”
That led the team to realise that if they were talking about diversity and contemporary Australia they should launch it on Australia day. “To their credit, Kellogg’s loved the idea and that’s what we did. We did a road block on the news on Australia Day – which was a lovely homage to Australia as well.”