The concept was Lowe London’s response to research that suggested Stella drinkers “would appreciate a touch of the macabre” – and it was our remit to bring this to life with a look that was both dark-humoured and lighthearted.
“It was all about the colour grade, and the mood, and the feel and the emotion behind it” reports our Chris, recalling a brief that was intensely conscious of the reaction the agency wanted to provoke in the audience. “Olaf shot using 10×8 colour negative, which no-one was really doing at the time, which made a huge difference to the quality of the images: you could even read the labels on the bottles.”
It was then back to the SB studio with the photographs for some handcrafted atmosphere and intensity courtesy of our Chris. Various elements were composited together, such as the oil rig that looms through the office window, and the lighting for each image was adapted to include the correct reflections and colour tones.
Aspiring to maintain a premium image for Stella Artois, the ads compliment a premium beer-drinking audience’s intelligence with numerous very subtle devilish references: amongst others are Delacroix’s Faust and Mephistopheles on the wall, “Inferno Cargo” on the plane, the window frames forming inverted crosses and dead butterflies (in some cultures a symbol of the soul) on the wall.
“We wanted it to look like the old medieval allegorical paintings,” says art director Alistair Ross, “where an art historian can walk you through the details to explain what all the symbolism means.”
This meant that it was especially important, with all of these visual tricks and details already built into the scenes, that the viewer’s eye could be absolutely comfortable with the perspectives and visual believability of the composition.
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