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Ugly in the 90s

Ugly in the 90s

Michael Carnevale

Michael Carnevale

October 15, 2018

We all could have done better—a lot better.

"The idea was to make people remember what we looked like thirty years ago."

It’s probably safe to say that many of us thought that the 90s were more cool and hip than they were in reality. With a self-awareness that most companies would never care to admit, automaker ŠKODA highlights some of the decade’s more cringeworthy moments. Sacha Lacroix, managing director at Rosapark, gives us some insight into the funny spot.

 

If you don’t pay attention to the title of the video, you almost have no idea that this is an ad for a car company. Was this on purpose?

Actually, no. That wasn’t our objective, but it was a natural consequence of the concept. The idea was to make people remember what we looked like thirty years ago. The video is based on a fashion insight. It was, therefore, logical to show looks rather than cars in the ad campaign. Then the logo appears as the payoff and clues you into understanding the whole concept.

What was casting and getting all the necessary props for this campaign like?

The casting, and especially the decorations and fashion designs, were key points. We would usually talk with the producer mostly about the actions, the script, the twists, and turns. This time, however, our first conversations were essentially about the accuracy of the looks, and of small details such as the teat or the tie-and-dye T-shirt, which would act as a madeleine de Proust.

"Indeed, there is a kind of mirror effect: you were ugly during the 90s but you changed with time, right? You can accept then that ŠKODA might have changed too."

I think in every way, “Ugly in the 90s” really hits the mark in references. What was the creative process like, and did the younger members of the team have a hard time relating to this?

We have been convinced for a long time that the interesting point of tension for this brand is the difference between the idea customers have of ŠKODA (not-so-beautiful and old-fashioned cars) and the reality (new and very contemporary models such as Kodiaq or the new Superb). By working on this tension, creatives got down to the concept. They came to the plan’s board with nothing else but the punchline “you were ugly too in the 90s.” Everybody was immediately on board. We knew “it” was it. The psychology behind that provocative and audacious line is so strong. Indeed, there is a kind of mirror effect: you were ugly during the 90s but you changed with time, right? You can accept then that ŠKODA might have changed too. Moreover, it struck us that the idea not only speaks to people that have known this decade, but also to the younger generations who have in mind the kitschy imagery of the 90s.

I’m sure there were funny moments while shooting this. Can you give us any good stories from the set?

The entire shooting was an anecdote. Can you imagine? You are on the set surrounded by unlikely stuff. The head operator has in his hands a video tape recorder that your mum used to record all your family holidays back in 1992. At the lavatory, you bump into someone with a mullet. And from everywhere comes a incredibly kitschy dance music. That was a crazy day.

What’s next in terms of future campaigns for ŠKODA, and will you continue the throwback theme?

One of the best fan’s reaction on Twitter was “Please spread it also on television!” We might listen to that fan and spread the ugliness of the 90s on TV and cinema. Our goal is first and foremost to present the unexpected. Continuing the throwback theme can be an option but it can’t be our only unique territory.

"The idea was to make people remember what we looked like thirty years ago."

It’s probably safe to say that many of us thought that the 90s were more cool and hip than they were in reality. With a self-awareness that most companies would never care to admit, automaker ŠKODA highlights some of the decade’s more cringeworthy moments. Sacha Lacroix, managing director at Rosapark, gives us some insight into the funny spot.

 

If you don’t pay attention to the title of the video, you almost have no idea that this is an ad for a car company. Was this on purpose?

Actually, no. That wasn’t our objective, but it was a natural consequence of the concept. The idea was to make people remember what we looked like thirty years ago. The video is based on a fashion insight. It was, therefore, logical to show looks rather than cars in the ad campaign. Then the logo appears as the payoff and clues you into understanding the whole concept.

What was casting and getting all the necessary props for this campaign like?

The casting, and especially the decorations and fashion designs, were key points. We would usually talk with the producer mostly about the actions, the script, the twists, and turns. This time, however, our first conversations were essentially about the accuracy of the looks, and of small details such as the teat or the tie-and-dye T-shirt, which would act as a madeleine de Proust.

"Indeed, there is a kind of mirror effect: you were ugly during the 90s but you changed with time, right? You can accept then that ŠKODA might have changed too."

I think in every way, “Ugly in the 90s” really hits the mark in references. What was the creative process like, and did the younger members of the team have a hard time relating to this?

We have been convinced for a long time that the interesting point of tension for this brand is the difference between the idea customers have of ŠKODA (not-so-beautiful and old-fashioned cars) and the reality (new and very contemporary models such as Kodiaq or the new Superb). By working on this tension, creatives got down to the concept. They came to the plan’s board with nothing else but the punchline “you were ugly too in the 90s.” Everybody was immediately on board. We knew “it” was it. The psychology behind that provocative and audacious line is so strong. Indeed, there is a kind of mirror effect: you were ugly during the 90s but you changed with time, right? You can accept then that ŠKODA might have changed too. Moreover, it struck us that the idea not only speaks to people that have known this decade, but also to the younger generations who have in mind the kitschy imagery of the 90s.

I’m sure there were funny moments while shooting this. Can you give us any good stories from the set?

The entire shooting was an anecdote. Can you imagine? You are on the set surrounded by unlikely stuff. The head operator has in his hands a video tape recorder that your mum used to record all your family holidays back in 1992. At the lavatory, you bump into someone with a mullet. And from everywhere comes a incredibly kitschy dance music. That was a crazy day.

What’s next in terms of future campaigns for ŠKODA, and will you continue the throwback theme?

One of the best fan’s reaction on Twitter was “Please spread it also on television!” We might listen to that fan and spread the ugliness of the 90s on TV and cinema. Our goal is first and foremost to present the unexpected. Continuing the throwback theme can be an option but it can’t be our only unique territory.

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