“Oo-w-ooh yes” – just two hammily-delivered words and you know exactly which insurance company we’re talking about. For as long as most of us can remember, saving money on our car insurance has been associated with a wibbly-jawed dog puppet with a yes/no attitude towards conversation. But, as of today (4 October), Churchill has a brand new look. Faced with the somewhat “stale” and “cheesy” Churchie puppet, London-based agency Engine wanted to update Churchill’s campaigns “to make it a bit more relevant to modern Britain,” Engine creative director David Dearlove tells It’s Nice That. And how did they do that? Dogs on skateboards, that’s how!
The new campaign, which has been directed by Nicolai Fuglsig, gives the original nodding pup mascot a CGI makeover, courtesy of studio Untold Studios. This CGI “Churchie” glides through life (on a skateboard, naturally), showing just how chill he is knowing that everything has been insured by Churchill.
Speaking of “chill”, the second strand to the rebrand after Churchie’s new look is, quite literally, putting the “chill” in Churchill. “It was staring us in the face, half of the word Churchill is the word ‘chill’,” David tells us. “What is insurance all about? It’s peace of mind. You buy insurance so you can relax, and not through people who are going to rip you off and try and weasel out paying up. It was the purest way of getting across the point that what they [Churchill] provided was chill.”
Working with designer Polina Dyer, Engine’s new logo for Churchill highlights the word, with bespoke animations making the word out of particular “chill” things, like ice cream and clouds. A relaxing gradient of hues, inspired by different times of the day, has been used as a background for the cursive type. “Insurance is a bit of a dull, boring category so to get a a company to have not just one logo but a changing cast is brave in terms of advertising,” adds David.
One of the biggest challenges of the project was to update an icon, which is so well-know from the long-running campaigns. “Without [Churchie], they’re just another insurance company,“ says David. “We’ve gone from the puppet of old, this Vicar of Dibbly sort of thing and replaced it with a real dog”.
The CGI dog itself took Untold eight months to create, starting of with a casting session to find the perfect dog to base their animated version on. “They crapped all over the floor!” says David. Untold then built a full CGI version of the perfect dog, from skeleton to skin, ensuring an atomically correct animal where every muscle looks real when it moves – or skateboards.
The campaign will premier on ITV this evening in the break of Emmerdale, with a second TV ad launching on 28 October, alongside radio, cinema, social and Spotify advertising.