Lacoste, which celebrates its 90th birthday this year, and its agency BETC Paris are no strangers to appropriating the codes of the street and real life to turn them into a communications campaign.
For its new campaign celebrating Novak Djokovic, the brand ambassador since 2017, Lacoste drew inspiration from the street art flourishing in Serbia, the home country of the world’s 3rd-ranked tennis player in the ATP rankings.
Novak Djokovic is as controversial as he is iconic. Considered as one of the greatest athletes of all time, the Lacoste ambassador has broken all records by remaining world n°1 for more than 380 weeks; winning 22 Grand Slams, and taking a personal commitment to support children in Serbia through his foundation.
To elevate him to an iconic status, Lacoste took the athlete off the tennis court and into pop culture, transforming him into street art. Shouting victory, the champion, turned into a collage, exchanges with the open-mouthed crocodile, also metamorphosed with the same graphic treatment.
This celebratory campaign consists of a TV film and a key visual for posters, digital formats, memes and a real wall mural. The print campaign features the Lacoste crocodile and Novak Djokovic shouting face to face, making this visual composition “iconic” as the tagline indicates. The TV film, directed by Shaun Severi and The Mill studio, immerses us in an equally iconic exchange as we follow an intense tennis match between the two icons through the city walls.
Director Shaun Severi said : “The BETC agency with whom we have a long experience working with (they did the Canal plus the bear with us) sent us a board in mid April we got excited. The brief was simple, they needed a company to handle a DMP of a random cityscape while a fixed sequence shot the poster of Novak played against the iconic Lacoste crocodile logo. One of the challenges was how would we animate the crocodile logo, but having an experienced award winning animation team this didn’t seem to be much of an issue.
At The Mill we also have a production house, the Mill+. This department was developed to help clients and production companies reach a higher level of execution with our in-house experts. So when the storyboard landed on our desks we quickly realized the challenge wasn’t creating realistic DMPs but the actual direction of the whole TVC.
Luckily it turns our that one of our in-house directors is a tennis lover and goes to Roland Garros every year. So with that in mind, I ran up to our office rooftop and created a rough cut of the film. The edit was shot with the energy of a spectator at a game, it had zip pans and even the pigeon shot was already there. To add more realism the edit was timed with a real game between Novak and another opponent.
The rough cut convinced both creatives and client and the job was quickly awarded as time was fast becoming an issue.
Novak’s rushes had been shot beforehand extracted from French television rushes of Roland Garros so the main job for our creative concept team was to find a style of integration that worked. The work on the crocodile started almost immediately with the idea that the crocodile was as talented as Novak in regards to tennis. It help that amongst the animation team everyone was a tennis lover. Discussions could be overhead on the design floor about what type of slice shot the crocodile could reply with.
As the turnaround was a fast one we had to shoot the building quickly and thanks to the strong relationship with the agency they confidently let us shoot the additional footage alone, knowing this would be faster and more effective.
The agency and the client were immediately confident that they had the right images and after a few small adjustments the post work started. Thanks to our extremely talented in house team and the fact that everything from production to post was worked out in-house before the shoot we hit the ground running. The team quickly integrated all the rushes, applied a “paper/posters” style to the characters and animated the crocodile to perfection. The result speaks for itself, a playful and fun concept executed with the right tone bringing the brand’s and agency’s exciting concept to life in a timely fashion.
We are as proud of the visual result as much as the in-house collaboration of our different teams from production to post production. This symbiosis of talents is what made this project possible with the high quality of visual excellence that is expected of us from the Mill.”
The worldwide broadcast campaign was launched to coincide with Roland Garros but will continue celebrating the partnership between the athlete and the crocodile brand.
“For this project we needed to feature the iconic crocodile logo with tennis champion Djocovik. We started by getting the rushes of Djokovic shot during the Tennis Open from the French Tennis Federation. Once we had everything in our hands, we put it all into After Effect to apply a poster treatment with a paper effect, adding rips and texture, before integrating it into live facades. At the same time we were making progress on the prints, which also had to respect the paper look that the client wanted. For the crocodile, we started with the logo embroidered on the various textiles and then imagined how this animal could play tennis and take on the champion. It's not every day you see a crocodile playing tennis! Once we'd found the right style of animation, we integrated the two characters into the façades we'd shot. Using the magic of editing and a tennis ball made in 3D on Maya, we managed to create the illusion of a powerful match between the two protagonists. We were lucky enough to work with an in-house director, which made the approval process easier and saved us time. What's more, the team of animators and graphic designers were top-notch and worked extremely efficiently throughout the production. Well done to all.”
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