April 1, 2008
The Skinny The creative concept for Ping Pong was based on a popular Japanese variety TV show Super Change, Change, Change (loosely translated from its Chinese title), where participants including high school students, families, and working professionals create mass display stage performances using elaborate props and costumes. The illusions created are often clever and comedic in nature as some of the participants are dressed in black to help the main characters perform stunts against a black backdrop. Based on that concept, Ping Pong depicts two competitors playing table tennis in increasingly ridiculous and amusing stunts in an extended exchange. Midway through the grueling contest, one of the players tires and reaches out for a Snickers energy bar. Fully recharged from that, he is able to continue in the game with better and stronger moves and outplays his competitor at the end with fast and powerful strokes that make him look like he was playing with six arms. Through the spot, the viewer is also introduced progressively to the men dressed in black who are helping the players jump higher, play faster and pull off seemingly impossible stunts, to hilarious effect. Ping Pong has been on air in China since mid-October 2007, and has sparked positive comments from the Chinese internet community. The ad campaign’s launch has also coincided with a surge in sales of the Snickers chocolate bar by some 30 per cent in the last quarter of 2007. The Production September 2007 saw The Shanghai Job win the pitch for the Snickers’ TV campaign from Mars China against various Thai directors for three spots to tie-in with the Beijing Olympics campaign. Based on the creative vision from the Nitro Shanghai team helmed by executive creative director and managing director, Jennifer Tan, The Shanghai Job produced the 30-second spots titled Ping Pong, Basketball and Blackboard. With choreography of the stunts being a core creative concept behind the TVCs, casting took on great importance in pre-production. Street casting was carried out in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou to recruit hip-hop dancers, mime artists, theatre actors and street performers given that Nitro chose not to cast commercial actors or talent in the ad. Following that, four days of intensive rehearsals ensued in Shanghai before the three spots were shot back-to-back in five days on HD-DV to give the TVCs the intended raw look. The music score for the ad by Beat-Box was then jointly selected by the director David Gaddie and the agency, before Sydney-based Nylon Studios took on the music design task for the advertising campaign. The Post For offline, The Shanghai Job engaged editor Supra from Singapore to cut the three spots at its in-house facility. As for online editing, The Shanghai Job opted to take what the team considered as a “bold” step in post production: remote coordination and control of post production work done by Post Modern in Sydney via the Internet, as well as remote review and initial approval. In the process, only project folders with all the media files stored in a 500GB hard disk drive went to Post Modern. The director briefed and communicated directly with Post Modern’s post supervisor James Rogers and managing director Andrew Robinson via Skype and telephone during the post process. The completed online edit was then made available via Post Modern’s FTP site for download. Nitro Shanghai and the clients were able to review the work direct on their computers to provide comments and initial approval without having to travel. The final review was then conducted at a local post facility on a standard broadcast monitor for the client to ensure that there were no drop frames and colour separation. The final edit was then given the nod without further changes.