101’s Mark Elwood considers the lure of craftsmanship in this mass-produced age.
In a world where everything is digitised and backed up on ‘the cloud’, where industrial processes have driven the price of manufacturing down to new extremes, something seemingly at odds with all this has been happening. As we’ve become more internet-literate, an appreciation for the handcrafted has grown.
You need only look at the popularity of sites like Etsy, Folksy and Pinterest to realise that the interest for the DIY and the handmade is exploding. In their recent work for Kettle Chips, 101 London have captured this aspect of the zeitgeist. In their most recent ad, directed by Joanna Bailey of Bare Films, they looked to disciples of this new craft movement to create the commercial, hand-crafting everything it takes to throw a ‘craft party’.
Knife makers, blacksmiths, stonemasons, glassblowers, origamists, letter carvers, embroiderers, wire sculptors, wood sculptors and Kettle’ Head Chef, Chris Barnard all brought something to the party, while Joanna shot it all on 16mm film for that extra crafty touch.
We spoke to the campaign’s Creative Director, Mark Elwood, about the spirit of the artisan that has inspired their work for Kettle.
Director: Joanna Bailey
Production Company: Bare Films
Production Company Producer: Helen Hadfield / Sue Caldwell
Creative Director: Mark Elwood
Creatives: Tim Donald & Misha Newby
Agency Producer: Natalie Curran
Assistant Producer: Sami Goddard
Agency Accounts: Fiona Stirling
Agency Strategist: Clare Hutchinson
Music: Sesame Street excerpts provided courtesy of Sesame Workshop, New York, New York© 1978 Sesame Workshop. Sesame Street ® and associated characters, trademarks and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop.
All Rights Reserved. Written by Jeffrey Moss (ASCAP), Published by Festival Attractions, Inc. (ASCAP)
Sound: Tom Joyce at Factory Studios
Editor: Adam Marshall at the Whitehouse
Post: Fasa Oyibo at Electric Theatre
Crafts People Featured:
Chef Chris Barnard
Blacksmith Owen Bush
Knife Maker Ben Edmonds
Embroidery by Lou Gardiner
Table by Joc Hare
Origami by Francesca Pole
Benches by Daniel Roker
Stonemason Annet Stirling
Wire Sculpting by Emma Stothard
Glass Blower KT Yun
The Beak Street Bugle: Why do you think so many people are interested in craft these days?
Mark Elwood: It appeals if you don’t want to be part of the Ikea generation. We all walk into each other’s houses and everything’s the same and we all know it’s called Malm. There’s something really interesting in being able to approach craftspeople and get them to make something for you that might be completely original.
This thing is coming back. The internet is making people want to look for new things and have some value about products again. It’s an interesting movement.
BSB: How has the internet helped the craft movement?
ME: The embroideress in the Kettle films, Lou Gardiner, who lives in Manchester, is selling works through the internet in America, and Italy and France and all over the place. People know about her because she’s online. The craft community is something you can find so easily now because of the internet. People can actually make a living out of it easier today than they would have been able to ten years ago.
If you watch Lou’s behind the scenes video for Kettle we did with her earlier this year she talks about going back to a bygone era, rallying against the digital age. When actually, she’s making a living because of the digital age. I wouldn’t have found her without the internet. But me Googling embroiderers, going through an extensive list and picking the right one was how I got to her in the first place. You can’t kid yourself that the digital age hasn’t opened up a whole world of craft.
BSB: So the relationship between real life craft and the digital landscape is a complex one.
ME: They’re symbiotic. You don’t have one without the other because you’ll never get discovered, but it’s certainly making people want to make crafted things again and then display them and be proud of them because they’ve got an audience.
I was at Google HQ, Mountain View, in California a few months ago and I learnt that the most popular thing in the US on Google Hangouts is sewing. You’d expect it to be people who have to get together and video conferences all the time, but it’s people swapping stitches!
You’re not going to bump into someone who’s a glassmaker without being online. That’s why Etsy and Folksy and all those hand-crafty websites are so popular now – you can go and buy something that’s totally original, that might have a bit of wonk in it. We love the fact that there’s a mug that isn’t perfect –there’s something just slightly different and that’s fantastic.
In that world, people are starting to realise that they can make money because of the internet, doing the things they actually love. With the internet they are in control of their self promotion, they can advertise themselves and hit a lot of people at the same time, which means people will buy even though they may not be UK based, even if they don’t have stock in shops as they used to have to do.
As the sign-writer we used in the first film we made for Kettle, Mick Pollard, said, "you’re never going to be a millionaire out of this. You make a half-decent living but the whole thing's great - a way of life." I think hopefully, because people are selling this stuff, it will become a bit less niche. There will be more people learning these crafts.There will be more people learning these crafts.
BSB: How does all this apply to Kettle Chips?
ME: The root of it is Kettle Chips are still hand cooked. They don’t sit there and make sure they’re all the same size and the same shape and colour. So we wanted our advert to be totally authentic and hand-made too, whether that’s sign writing or embroidery or glass blowers, knife makers or anyone else that touches it, and we’d just be able to get out the way and let them create in their own environment. The point is to celebrate the wonky in life, because that’s what Kettle do and these craftspeople, and it’s much more personal.
The noises we’ve been getting back from Kettle internally are great. ‘We understand what this campaign is doing. That’s exactly how we feel, like we are crafts people, and this is a craft brand.’ It’s the perfect reactions us to get from the business. They’re not going to deny they’re a big brand at all, but they are still craftspeople and they celebrate that. These people there don’t see themselves as factory workers.
There were clients on this shoot and they were so happy to be there watching people making stuff, seeing that great parallel to their brand.
BSB: How did you go about putting the film together?
ME: When we first got to the platform of ‘lovingly crafted’ with Kettle it was really interesting. We wanted craftspeople to make the advertising because it should be pure. We didn’t want to be saying ‘you make the basis and then we’ll just retouch it.’
We’re surrounded by amazing craftspeople in our business. You’ve only got to go online and look at amazing illustration agencies. But we realised pretty quickly that commercial artists wasn’t the right way forward for this campaign.
We wanted to find undiscovered people, who did this for a living. The first person we used – Mick – is an incredible exponent of sign writing. He’s one of the last 300 sign writers left in the country. He’s not going to sit there and say ‘you advertising lovies, we’re going to rip you off by charging you 30 grand for this.’ It just wasn’t the case. He had to write three signs and he charged us for three signs.
Bare films did a brilliant job on the casting. My self and Joanna Bailey, the director, were all about the casting. We saw probably 50 people. They had to be an interesting person. They had to look right, have the right kind of attitude towards it.
BSB: What was the day shooting the film like?
ME: It was all done on that day. Everything from the table through to the glasses was made on set that day. We wanted to get blacksmiths to do surprising things. They made these flower arrangements. We wanted to subvert what craft is all about. We showed that two guys that normally would make big steel gates or whatever could make something that’s delicate and beautiful in a day with metal.
The person that made the glasses all day, KT, just sat and made glasses all day. It was incredible. The heat, the smell, the whole thing on set. There wasn’t a bit where we went ‘here’s one we made earlier’ and that’s something to be proud of, I think.
We wanted to get a real vibe by doing it in one room and shooting it on a long lens, so the cameras were nowhere near anybody really. Once they were working they forgot about the cameras and started wandering about and chatting to each other and really enjoying the day.
They were all in the same boat. There was no rivalry in the room. They all got on and built the whole table, the benches, the glasses, the table runner, the table decoration, the lampshades, everything was going to be made that day. Chris, the Kettle chef made some brilliant food as well. And the end shot came together very organically. So what was captured in the advert is exactly as it happened, and a genuine excitement at pulling the day together for one big meal at the end.