Ad Nut
Jan 15, 2021

'Life at its peak': A cinematic appeal to the select few

Hong Kong residential property 21 Borrett Road targets high-wealth consumers with a film from Always Marketing and Sweetshop director John S Park.

Cheung Kong Property has a new luxury housing development in Hong Kong, 21 Borrett Road. And although it's not technically at The Peak, the developer is cleverly marketing it under the tagline 'Life at its peak'. Central to that effort is a campaign by local agency Always Marketing, which is anchored by the ambitious film above.

You wouldn't know that the film, by Sweetshop director John S Park, is about real estate until the very last moments, and it never actually shows the building. There are some interior shots where disgustingly rich and attractive individuals enjoy stunning views that probably don't represent reality; according to the lengthy disclaimer at the end (which can be found on all Hong Kong property ads) the images represent an artist's impression only.

The ad is chiefly concerned with showing the kind of person who would live in such a place. And that, the film informs us, is the kind of person who designs freaking spaceships, or inspects a windmill farm from a helicopter, or engineers a hyperloop system. The kind of person, we're told, whose ambition redefines time. A person whose vision catches the very wind. A person whose brilliance draws stars into their orbit.

  

It's all very alluring and inspiring, and the film achieves a high-quality sheen befitting its aspirations (see a Q&A with the director below). Alas, Ad Nut is not among the intended residents of 21 Borrett Road, even though Ad Nut does live 'life at the peak'—of an oak-tree branch. 

The campaign launched on January 4 and includes online, the client's owned channels, digital and social media. It targets the mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau markets.

BEHIND THE SCENES

In case you're interested, Sweetshop provided the following Q&A with director John S Park.

Q: What first struck you about Always Hong Kong’s script and did this play to your strengths as a director?

A: This was a very unique commercial. I’ve rarely worked on films where the target audience is purely high-wealth customers. So, the target and approach to the film was very different indeed for me. The script was impressive, exploring ambition and accomplishment—succeeding on both a professional and personal level. What I found most fascinating about this script is what’s beneath the surface - the energy that’s motivating and empowering what we see.

Q: How did you approach the film to make it compelling on both a visual and emotional level?

A: We go much further than your typical high-end luxury brand shoot. Our look and feel is much more cinematic, immersive and narratively driven.

So, we shot this as if we were making a film or a preview of a movie, and a preview of the life that could be. And it wasn’t just about the fancy life style, but a value that a home has to bring for those who pursue their dreams. The home is a place of inspiration, of dreams, and most of all, a place of rest.

We shot anamorphic and used our camera in service of our story and character beats. We lit and framed and composed to bring depth and nuance to our characters’ lives, immersing us in their world and creating a more emotional connection to what we’re seeing.

Q: The commercial feels as if it is a feature film, how did you achieve this?

A: When a commercial goes over a certain length, I try to take the film towards filmic directions and I try to follow the rules of filmmaking. Simple storytelling techniques are used; Characters are introduced, some questions are given, and I try to engage the audience so that they begin to wonder what will happen next. Little by little, we learn about their place in the world, what they are doing to overcome challenges, and how. It’s a sort of peeling away at the onion process to get to the core. Hopefully, people can be more engaged this way, as they will want to find out more about the character’s journey.

Q: You’ve integrated CG seamlessly into real world shots, can you tell us more?

A: There are some obvious CG shots for practical reasons, like building a space ship that doesn’t exist. But I love the idea of using CG to correct or improve upon live action shots where people don’t expect it. Due to the way we were shooting, we had to rely on CG for some shots as it’s an effective way of creating a different production design or location which may not readily be available. The important thing is that the CG was seamlessly integrated within the real world.

Q: What were you looking for in your locations?

A: We had limited days to shoot this and the film required a lot of locations. We approached the film with post integration in many of the locations. Locations had to be versatile and they were sort of the canvases upon which we were going to paint our drawings.

Q: And your lead characters, what were you looking for from their performances?

A: Our characters needed to be emotional anchors. Diverse and individualized characters that were representative of reality. We were looking for actors and not model types since we were looking at a feature film feel. I love working with actors who bring certain charisma and energy into the film.

CREDITS

Agency: Always Marketing Holdings Limited, Hong Kong
CCO: Victor Kwan
Agency Head of Production:  Connie Chua

Production Company: Sweetshop
Director: John S Park
Executive Producer / MD: Laura Geagea
Senior Producer: Penny Woo
DOP: Werner Maritz
Art Director: MJ Botha (Capetown) / Popeye Wan (Hong Kong)
Offline Editor: John S Park

Post Production: Solid VFX, Seoul
Senior Post Producer: Hazel Jung

Music:  Floor 6, Seoul

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.

 

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