Paragon Pictures
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Case Study | Freeport Braintree

Shopping as an Event

LandSec own and manage several shopping centres around the UK, through ICG Marketing Agency they approached us to produce a 30 second TVC for one of their centres; Freeport Braintree Shopping Village in Essex.

They wanted to create a TVC that would present a confident and stylish vision for Freeport Braintree to help elevate the shopping centre to a higher standard of customer experience, while contributing to the recruitment of additional, premium and aspirational brands.

Their additional intention was to drive the catchment in a more targeted manner, geographically and demographically. They wanted to appeal to a younger age group than families and professionals that typically visit the centre.

We were given a great deal of creative freedom from LandSec and ICG. They felt they could trust our perspective as a team of creative professionals within the demographic that they wanted their TVC to target.

As ever, we did our research; getting to grips with any and all shopping centre marketing strategies we could get our hands on. We quickly noticed a trend within shopping centre commercials that focus heavily on actuality content: families on a day out browsing in the shops and dining out.

What we also noticed was that many similar centres to Freeport had event attractions and activities. Junction 32 has the Xscape Centre right next door. The Trafford Centre in Manchester has Legoland and Seaworld. These attractions elevate the visitor experience to make visiting these places an “Event”.

We had to figure out how to create an engaging and memorable ad that would highlight how Freeport Braintree is an exciting out-of-town leisure destination even without these “Event” attractions.

We didn’t want our ad to be yet another standard set of actuality footage depicting families browsing and dining out. We felt that we had to present Freeport Braintree as the “Event” attraction in and of itself.

LandSec wanted us to shoot the ad in the centre to highlight the type of aspirational brands and retailers they already house. This presented us with an opportunity to get really creative. How do we depict people visiting the centre to shop and eat and present this as an event, while confined to the centre itself? The visitors being depicted had to be doing more than just shopping. They had to be fun and interesting people goofing around and having a great time. This meant that simply seeing them look at products and try on clothes was not enough.

We wanted the viewer to be more than a passive spectator. We wanted to draw them in and make them a part of this event. The commercial needed to be an open invitation to the viewer to join this group of spirited young friends in their Freeport Braintree experience. With the characters repeatedly looking into the lens, this direct eye contact with the audience would be directly engaging.

The vignettes of our characters having fun would be interspersed with lookbook style fashion shots of models posing and showing off the products shot in a studio. This would reinforce the idea that shopping is an aspirational activity while also promoting the high-end brands on offer at the centre. This mixture of studio and real life footage would also give the overall video a greater visual dynamic and help highlight specific brands or products like handbags, watches, makeup or food.

The production was split into two parts; the studio shoot and the location shoot.

We used a different set of models based in Manchester for the studio shoot in Salford. Working from the point of sale poster designs from ICG we shot product shots and close ups to match these stills. Once motion graphics, copy and speed ramping is was added they were almost identical to their designs. This was intended to create visual consistency throughout the marketing media. We also shot our models in various outfits with multiple backgrounds to capture this lookbook / editorial imagery that would elevate the commercial value of the whole piece.

We cast the six models from London and Essex to save the client’s budget from massive travel expenses. It was important to ensure the aspirational tone of the ad come across that this group be young, fun and attractive. We find it useful with these kind of projects to use performers with both modelling and acting training. In the case of this project the vignettes we created involved some degree of acting to create a convincing portrayal of six close friends interacting. In addition to the vignettes we also had the characters pose in editorial style shots around the centre to show off the brands and add a stylish dynamic to the finished piece. This is where modelling experience comes in handy.

We shot the entire commercial in one day and managed to shoot enough content to edit a seperate ad for each store if we wanted to. That’s the benefit of choosing a cast and crew that are hard working, dedicated and efficient.

We pride ourselves on the feedback we get from the people we work with. We’ve been given the complement that unlike many other production companies we work hard to get the job done while managing to maintaining a relaxed and fun atmosphere. No matter how hard we work it never feels like hard work because we love doing it. If it isn’t fun for everyone involved then it starts to feel like work. A relaxed and happy crew is a productive crew.

With the abundance of footage we captured it was a treat to edit. We created multiple versions, each with different content. Then the client picked their favourite part from each edit which we combined into the final product.