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It’s Itchy-Eye Season

It’s Itchy-Eye Season

Michael Carnevale

Michael Carnevale

May 11, 2018

And that means a lot of people are gonna feel uncomfortable—really quickly.

"Eyes covered in real foliage, along with a few squints, blinks, and irritated expressions have allowed us to evoke a new sense of irritation."

Havas London came up with a brilliant solution to show how people are affected by hay fever, especially their eyes, during allergy season. Using real materials from nature, and some CGI, Art Director Jade Andrews and Copywriter Masha Shukkore walk us through how this spot for Optrex literally came to life—and how everyone can relate to this visually striking piece.

 

Why do you think it was so successful last year, and what made you revisit it?

There’s nothing more captivating than eyes; so we jumped at the chance to dramatize the physical problem and condition with a set of eyes again. Not only did it allow us to tell our story in a simple, effective way, it also let us play in an already visually compelling space.

Our aim was always to stay in a tonally similar space to screen eyes but tell a different story. This time, we focused on dramatizing the realities of hay fever season through the causes of hay fever themselves. This year, we’re up close and personal with the affected eyes—what we’ve been calling “hay fever eyes”—to help build interactivity between the imagery and how it makes your eyes feel. Eyes covered in real foliage, along with a few squints, blinks, and irritated expressions have allowed us to evoke a new sense of irritation. The microscopic detail of the lashes grabs the attention of the viewers, so they continue watching until the end, when we reveal the solution.

What makes this spot different from other allergy-related ones?

It encapsulates the discomfort you feel, when all you want to do is enjoy spring and summer. Unlike other allergy adverts, ours fully embraced the causes of hay fever and made them a fundamental part of the story; even the shoot locations were dictated by the local foliage. The makeup was curated with natural materials, many of them real irritants to the eyes, which only added to the believability of the irritation we were trying to portray.

"Keeping the action simple helped the imagery feel eerie and sensorial."

How did CGI help you tell a more creative or better story?

Unlike screen eyes, we intentionally moved away from heavy CGI to work with natural materials, in order to bring a sense of real irritation to life. The molecular structure of pollen was the starting point for the makeup design. This was so we could enhance the rawness of the natural materials and embrace the imperfections in the foliage, to create a better visual representation of irritation on the eye. Keeping the action simple helped the imagery feel eerie and sensorial.

To ensure our hay fever eyes looked as real as possible, we foraged for things like leaves, twigs, and pollen, paying particular attention to color, texture, and scale. For grass we used both freshly picked and aged grass strands to ensure a wide color scheme. Working with eyes meant the material had to be lightweight. So the petals and pollens that we used were almost microscopic in scale.

Throughout the visual development, we continuously battled between the makeup looking too fashionable and just plain disturbing, but the biggest challenge was creating an uncomfortable look which complied with the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain regulations.

As someone who isn’t affected by allergies, I can almost feel the discomfort watching the spot. Was this part of the goal, or just a byproduct of the subject matter?

It was very much our intention to show hay fever sufferers that Optrex really understands what their eyes feel like when affected by hay fever allergens. It was key for us to portray a sense of exaggerated but real irritation. Using textures and materials that felt harsh, jagged, and out of place adds to the viewer’s unease. We see grass, flower pollen, and tree pollen irritating people’s eyes in a disturbing way. The eyes blink, squint, and open irritatedly, looking straight at you.

Even if you don’t suffer from hay fever, looking at those pollen-laden eyelashes will make you feel the itch: All you’ll want to do is scratch your eyes. And after speaking to many people who don’t suffer from hay fever who have seen the film, we know this is the case.

Those arresting visuals, together with the music and the textures of the eyelashes, helped build an unnerving, uncomfortable feeling that you can’t quite shake. And that’s exactly what we set out to achieve with this film.

 

CREDITS

Client: Reckitt Benckiser (Optrex): Charlotte Schloesing (Marketing Director) / Alexandra Bayet (Senior Brand Manager)

Title: Actimist

Agency: Havas London

ECD: Ben Mooge

Deputy ECD:  Elliot Harris

Art Director: Jade Andrews

Copywriter: Masha Shukkore

Account team: Ainhoa Wadsworth (Managing Partner) / Anne Puech (Senior Account Director) / Sarah Jacob (Account Manager)

Agency Producer (Film): Katie Wood

Agency Producer (Print): Claire Lillis

Creative Producer/Project Manager: Maggie Roberts

Strategists: Tilly Swan (Strategy Director) / Jenika Hadipour (Junior Strategist)

Media Agency: Zenith

Production Company: 1stAveMachine

Producer: Kerry Smart

Director: Morgan Harary

DoP: Ben Magahy

Editor: Jake Armstrong

Editing Company: Marshall Street Editors

Post-Production Producer: Jenna Noury               

Music Company: Mcasso

Audio Post-Production House: Angell Sound

Sound Engineer: Tom Lane

Narrator: Daisy May

"Eyes covered in real foliage, along with a few squints, blinks, and irritated expressions have allowed us to evoke a new sense of irritation."

Havas London came up with a brilliant solution to show how people are affected by hay fever, especially their eyes, during allergy season. Using real materials from nature, and some CGI, Art Director Jade Andrews and Copywriter Masha Shukkore walk us through how this spot for Optrex literally came to life—and how everyone can relate to this visually striking piece.

 

Why do you think it was so successful last year, and what made you revisit it?

There’s nothing more captivating than eyes; so we jumped at the chance to dramatize the physical problem and condition with a set of eyes again. Not only did it allow us to tell our story in a simple, effective way, it also let us play in an already visually compelling space.

Our aim was always to stay in a tonally similar space to screen eyes but tell a different story. This time, we focused on dramatizing the realities of hay fever season through the causes of hay fever themselves. This year, we’re up close and personal with the affected eyes—what we’ve been calling “hay fever eyes”—to help build interactivity between the imagery and how it makes your eyes feel. Eyes covered in real foliage, along with a few squints, blinks, and irritated expressions have allowed us to evoke a new sense of irritation. The microscopic detail of the lashes grabs the attention of the viewers, so they continue watching until the end, when we reveal the solution.

What makes this spot different from other allergy-related ones?

It encapsulates the discomfort you feel, when all you want to do is enjoy spring and summer. Unlike other allergy adverts, ours fully embraced the causes of hay fever and made them a fundamental part of the story; even the shoot locations were dictated by the local foliage. The makeup was curated with natural materials, many of them real irritants to the eyes, which only added to the believability of the irritation we were trying to portray.

"Keeping the action simple helped the imagery feel eerie and sensorial."

How did CGI help you tell a more creative or better story?

Unlike screen eyes, we intentionally moved away from heavy CGI to work with natural materials, in order to bring a sense of real irritation to life. The molecular structure of pollen was the starting point for the makeup design. This was so we could enhance the rawness of the natural materials and embrace the imperfections in the foliage, to create a better visual representation of irritation on the eye. Keeping the action simple helped the imagery feel eerie and sensorial.

To ensure our hay fever eyes looked as real as possible, we foraged for things like leaves, twigs, and pollen, paying particular attention to color, texture, and scale. For grass we used both freshly picked and aged grass strands to ensure a wide color scheme. Working with eyes meant the material had to be lightweight. So the petals and pollens that we used were almost microscopic in scale.

Throughout the visual development, we continuously battled between the makeup looking too fashionable and just plain disturbing, but the biggest challenge was creating an uncomfortable look which complied with the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain regulations.

As someone who isn’t affected by allergies, I can almost feel the discomfort watching the spot. Was this part of the goal, or just a byproduct of the subject matter?

It was very much our intention to show hay fever sufferers that Optrex really understands what their eyes feel like when affected by hay fever allergens. It was key for us to portray a sense of exaggerated but real irritation. Using textures and materials that felt harsh, jagged, and out of place adds to the viewer’s unease. We see grass, flower pollen, and tree pollen irritating people’s eyes in a disturbing way. The eyes blink, squint, and open irritatedly, looking straight at you.

Even if you don’t suffer from hay fever, looking at those pollen-laden eyelashes will make you feel the itch: All you’ll want to do is scratch your eyes. And after speaking to many people who don’t suffer from hay fever who have seen the film, we know this is the case.

Those arresting visuals, together with the music and the textures of the eyelashes, helped build an unnerving, uncomfortable feeling that you can’t quite shake. And that’s exactly what we set out to achieve with this film.

 

CREDITS

Client: Reckitt Benckiser (Optrex): Charlotte Schloesing (Marketing Director) / Alexandra Bayet (Senior Brand Manager)

Title: Actimist

Agency: Havas London

ECD: Ben Mooge

Deputy ECD:  Elliot Harris

Art Director: Jade Andrews

Copywriter: Masha Shukkore

Account team: Ainhoa Wadsworth (Managing Partner) / Anne Puech (Senior Account Director) / Sarah Jacob (Account Manager)

Agency Producer (Film): Katie Wood

Agency Producer (Print): Claire Lillis

Creative Producer/Project Manager: Maggie Roberts

Strategists: Tilly Swan (Strategy Director) / Jenika Hadipour (Junior Strategist)

Media Agency: Zenith

Production Company: 1stAveMachine

Producer: Kerry Smart

Director: Morgan Harary

DoP: Ben Magahy

Editor: Jake Armstrong

Editing Company: Marshall Street Editors

Post-Production Producer: Jenna Noury               

Music Company: Mcasso

Audio Post-Production House: Angell Sound

Sound Engineer: Tom Lane

Narrator: Daisy May

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