Not the Usual Archive Material

June 1, 2015 / Features

By Jacqueline Holmes

Physical relics from Kleinman's iconic Smirnoff ads.

Models of sexy girls and a weather-beaten Spitfire don’t bring to mind historically important archives but they sit comfortably in the collection held by the History of Advertising Trust (HAT).

There are shelves of books, cutting files, film clips and databases – all you would expect to find when researching but there is also the unexpected. There are some classic ‘props’ used in commercials housed in the stores. These help to tell the whole story of a campaign and bring it to life.

Amongst these are two ceramic models of modern women, in striking red and black, shown as break-in-two Russian-styled dolls. They represent the image of the £3m campaign created for Smirnoff Red in 2004.

JWT London for Smirnoff Vodka went back to the product’s Russian roots for the ‘not the usual’ campaign, which included the customary matryoshka – Russian nesting dolls.

Tapping into the era of tales of espionage and spying, the commercial shot in Russia, features a beautiful woman who, seemingly innocently, is in a grey Moscow queue to buy a loaf of bread. But there are more twists and turns than in a Bond adventure.

In an office she breaks open the loaf and inside is a key which fits a safe. Inside the safe is a microchip but the alarms are sounding and the guards appear; she leaps from the window and runs off leaving a divided shell of herself behind.

Again she seems cornered but then she slips out of her skin leaving the two halves. Now it is clear each time she is close to capture she sheds a shell that gradually becomes smaller. Eventually she slips down a drain cover.

The film ends with a man buying a traditional rounded tourist souvenir matryoshka. On a plane he opens his brief case, then the doll and there inside the centre is the microchip.

The drinks trolley appears with a bottle of Smirnoff and ends with the tag, ‘Not the usual’.

Purity is the theme that brought the concrete model of Spitfire to HAT Archive.

Hovering over the doors to HAT’s offices is the very Spitfire that was spewed from the sea in the 2007 Smirnoff Vodka TV ad. The concept for the commercial was the triple-distilled purification process Smirnoff goes through to create their ‘pure’ vodka.

The ad, directed by Daniel Kleinman, was part of a £5m campaign which began with an online presence, then a 60-second cinema commercial (first shown during a screening of The Bourne Ultimatum), followed by a nationwide launch on TV. Digital agency AKQA also created an online game to complement the package.

The Sea, again created by JWT London, shows the sea purging itself of all the junk found on the ocean bed. Once clean, a bottle of Smirnoff appears.

The film, shot in New Zealand, with further scenes filmed off the White Cliffs of Dover and at Pinewood Studios, opens with a Russian fisherman at sea. He throws an empty drinks can overboard. The sea responds. It dramatically rises and throws ashore an incredible collection of debris deposited over the centuries. This includes the Spitfire, a Spanish galleon and a washing machine.

The ocean is cleansed and on the pristine sea bed are the words ‘ten times filtered’, ‘triple distilled’ and finally ‘clearly Smirnoff’.

Produced by Rattling Stick for JWT’s client Diageo, the special effects were created by FrameStore CFC, also credited with sequences in Harry Potter and Bond films.

These unusual artefacts preserved at HAT within the JWT Archive reveal the skill and creativity behind the craft of model making for TV commercials such as these.

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