Mountains of cheddar shuddering as if mid-earthquake, a Petra-like crevasse of brie and a sea of molten cheese carrying us away on its swirling, creamy waves: ManvsMachine’s TV ads for Castello are not your average food porn. “Our hope for the final spots was that the audience would be taken on an immersive journey of cheese that left their minds blown as to what they had just seen,” ManvsMachine’s executive creative director Adam Rowe tells It’s Nice That. “We wanted [the ads] to have maximum stand out and to leave the viewer questioning that what they had just seen was actually a cheese commercial.”
Ad agency Mother London had already done the hard work of selling Castello this unconventional approach, inviting ManvsMachine to dramatise the textures and characters of the cheeses through CGI visuals. “We set ourselves the internal goal of creating the freshest cheese commercials out there that would be sure to make anyone look twice,” says Adam.
Starting with the flavour notes of each of Castello’s three cheeses – brie, cheddar and brie with chilli, the ManvsMachine team “went wild” exploring visual representations of these taste sensations. On this, Adam says, “The brie is creamy, rich and velvety soft. The cheddar is crumbly, fruity and crunchy. And the brie with chilli is fiery, creamy and velvety soft. These taste sensations gave us some clear parameters to work towards as we started our design exploration. Our mantra is very much ‘Design By Doing’ and this project was the perfect match for this way of working.”
The team were given initial mood boards which set the feeling of each of the cheeses, but the brief was not prescriptive as to what the team should be making. “As long as the visuals clearly depicted ‘crumbly’ for the cheddar, or ‘creamy’ for the brie, then a lot of freedom was given to the team to do what they do best,” says Adam.
One of the most challenging parts of the project was creating visuals that were experimental and unusual but didn’t gross out the audience. “The abstractions had to read as cheese, they had to look stunning, they had to clearly portray the characteristics of the cheese and most importantly, they had to look tasty and draw the audience in,” adds the creative director. “It was always a balancing act between pushing something that looked fresh and innovative yet still tasty and appetising to the audience.”
On a practical level, having a tonne of cheese around the office was also a challenge, especially when it came to 3D scanning it. “We had to leave the cheese out of the fridge for just the right amount of time to get it to the desired consistency,” explains Adam. “The problem with this came when the cheese very quickly continued to change its form, and for the photogrammetry setup we were using, we required the cheese to be static.” The other issue with 3D scanning is that it required the cheese to be under hot lights for several days. “It made for a nice and fresh smelling studio,” jokes Adam. And the finished spots are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, let’s just hope it hasn’t put the team off dairy for life.