THE AD: Skoda Fabia
THE BRIEF: Build a Skoda out of cake (and continue to change people's perceptions of the brand).
THE SCHTICK: Bakers are shown making an array of differently shaped and sized cakes and then assembling them into something. It becomes clear eventually that they are assembling an orange car, but it's only when you see a Skoda badge being fixed with icing sugar to the front of the cake car that the brand is revealed.
THE BREAKDOWN: This is advertising on a big scale. It's imaginative, ambitious, painstakingly crafted, and - thanks in no small part to the soundtrack of Julie Andrews singing My Favourite Things - destined to hit the target of being the ad you are glad to see. It's an instant classic.
Shot at Shepperton Studios, the cake took eight people 10 days to make. While the basis of the chassis is seen being built up with sponges, the moulded parts of the bodywork are made with a mixture of Rice Krispies. A home economist reveals in a "behind the scenes" video that the cereal was "the best edible material which will set to the exact shape of the panel" - something anyone who's made an Easter egg "nest" cake will confirm. The headlight covers are made from glacier mints, the brake lights from red jelly. The engine and wing mirrors, from marzipan.
Not only does director Chris Palmer think it was worth the trouble, he says it's the reason the advert works at all. "Thank God we did it for real," he says. "It was doing it for real in real time that was the worst possible way. We didn't have a practice run. It was all theory up until we had done it. But I'm so glad that we did, and that the people in the advert were the people who did it - the model makers were building it for real."
This is an enormous amount of trouble to go to for an advert - some estimates say that it cost £500,000 to make; one newspaper pointed out the comparative value of a Skoda (the advert costs 62 times as much). So is this a bid for Skoda to make the most of its recent good press and performance in driver surveys? It's some time since the brand stopped apologising for itself, but does the scale of the advert indicate a bolder aspiration?
Simon Barker, communications manager for Skoda, says not. "For us, it's not about being brash or proving a point, it's about self-confidence," he says.
But he accepts that on first viewing this does not look like a Skoda advert. The initial shots of bakers hard at work is reminiscent of Asda's recent campaign starring Victoria Wood (coincidentally produced by the same advertising company), but as it progresses one expects it to be a Honda magnum opus, a worthy successor to its legendary Cogs in which various car parts beautifully collide with each other like a domino-felling exhibition.
Barker says: "Lots of people have said to me that when it starts you don't even spot it's a car advert, until you see certain glimpses. And you certainly don't realise it's a Skoda advert. When they realise it is for a car, the first one that comes into their mind is a Honda. That's fantastic for us - Honda make great adverts. For us to be thought of being at their level is great."
In fact, a distinguishing feature of the remarkable series of recent Honda adverts has been that none is in any way like any of the others. The latest, Hondamentalism, has three scientists battling against an almighty gale. It's a statement about scientific advance but feels bleak in comparison to previous feel-good efforts.
One bit of trivia about the Skoda advert: Julie Andrews gave her personal approval to the soundtrack, following Skoda asking EMI's permission. Ad Breakdown has noted in the past just how much the right song can contribute to an advert's watchability, and that's never been truer than here. It reminds you what a towering talent Julie Andrews really is. The perfect clarity of the recording, her diction and flawless voice emphasise the unusual distinction of this work.
And the remaining question - what happened to the cake? Barker says they looked at donating it to charity, but by the time the cake had been in the studio and under the lights during construction it was not thought fit for human consumption. It ended up in a compost heap - though the chocolate speedometer and marzipan wing mirrors were, reportedly, kept for posterity.
Taken From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/670