Making a big decision sometimes requires a leap of faith. The theme of bold choices is celebrated in the first global advertising campaign from single malt Scotch brand The Macallan with a spectacular visual metaphor about rising above the fear that comes with making a momentous move.
The 90-second spot from J. Walter Thompson London takes the perspective of a man who takes a running jump off of a cloud-covered mountaintop and braves storm clouds and lightening during his fall. As he weathers the elements and perilously tumbles through the air, he begins to sprout feathers as he torpedoes down to Earth. On-screen copy asks, “Would you risk falling for a chance to fly?” as the hero is seen soaring back up into the sky and taking flight with majestic wings. The film, directed by RSA Films’ Juriaan Booij and shot by Oscar-nominated Gladiator cinematographer John Mathieson, ends with the message, “make the call.”
“The pressure of a big decision often makes us hesitate just when success is within reach. We’re so afraid of getting it wrong, we end up avoiding those decisions altogether,” said Paul Rizzello, creative director at JWT London. “This story is about someone who decides to go for it. He makes the call.”
The challenge in telling the story of a man who literally takes a leap of faith into the unknown was creating a stylish, imaginative fall that was also realistic, the director said. “It was very technical and a huge undertaking to make something so fantastical and believable as well,” explained Booij.
With visual effects work by Absolute Post Production, the six-week production required two days of green screen shooting in a London studio with an actor dangling on wires and several weeks of post production. A 3-D scan of the actor was made with 150 cameras moving all around him, motion capture was shot in a wind tunnel used by sky divers to create the illusion of a man falling at 200 miles an hour, and 3-D cloudscapes were created using VR headsets. The director also studied recorded base jumps to help him create a realistic-looking freefall.
The dramatic environment the hero falls through was created using 3-D scans of landscapes in Scotland. “We based it on real places, on the most extreme landscapes,” Booij noted. “We wanted it to feel like flying into Scotland, where the brand is from.”
To create a unique look for the actor when he takes flight, the director said the team tried to avoid references from mythology. Instead of having the wings sprout out of the hero’s back like an angel, they had the feathers form on his arms with a domino-like effect. “We found something that felt nicely balanced. The metamorphosis looked elegant, not painful,” Booij explained. “We wanted it to look beautiful as well.”
The campaign, which includes print, TV, and cinema, is running in key markets including the U.S., Mexico, Taiwan, China and the U.K.