Jo Wallace is the director of Sugar Studios in Greenwich, London. Wallace, formerly of MDM Props Ltd, has created a space that is now setting its sights on building its advertising and production clientele on the back of its success in the music industry.
Desert Island Ads
Before we dive into the ads, you’ll quickly notice they are united by a common theme – disruption and female empowerment. One of the many things I love about my job is that it’s given me a front row seat to watch some incredibly talented creatives do what they do best…create!
Watching productions come and go in the studio means I get a peek behind the curtain of what goes into making an ad special. Some I’ve chosen were filmed at Sugar Studios and others I wish were! All of them show creative women off at their best!
Elvie – Take Pumping In Your Stride
I love this ad because it’s not what you expect when you think about a breast pump (I don’t think about them very often I must admit). Milk expressing isn’t the most glamorous of activities, never mind the fact that the necessary equipment has remained largely unchanged since the 1950s – how ridiculous is that?!
This ad was filmed at Sugar Studios and it was such a vibrant shoot, one that really brings pumping out of the dark ages. It’s fun, unapologetically honest and encourages us to ditch the taboos around motherhood and everything that goes with it.
CoppaFeel! – Trust Your Touch
I told you there would be a theme here… this deserves recognition simply for the fact that it won the right to show the first full shot of a female breast on daytime TV. Directed by the incredibly talented Ivana Bobic, the campaign is informative while also being full of double entendres to appeal to a younger audience. The sensory element of the ad is fantastic; it plays to the appeal of ASMR, drawing us in then entertaining us with a genius use of props such as jelly boobs and jam donuts. The ad is a magnificently visual and tactile experience.
Barnardo’s Believe In Me – The Ballerina
The Believe In Me series directed by Sara Dunlop is strikingly poetic in its mission to move and educate while addressing the reality of its hard-hitting subject. Vulnerable children and young people are not defined by their start in life as they can grow up to be an inspiration rather than a victim of their circumstances.
The campaign marked Barnardo’s 150th anniversary and features young people who had never acted or performed publicly before, telling their stories, in this instance through the medium of dance. The beauty of the ballet performance set in a rundown, smashed up house which represents the subject’s troubled start in life, is a striking contrast, a representation of hope in the face of adversity. It serves as a symbol of how young people develop resilience in the face of a multitude of challenges.
Billie – Think of a Woman
Partnering with unconscious bias expert Gail Tolstoi-Miller and director Quinn Wilson, Billie, the beauty basics brand, created this fantastic campaign that challenges outdated and limiting assumptions around womanhood. It is disruptive, thought-provoking and refreshing to watch as it drives into the spotlight, a much-needed conversation about how women’s bodies are portrayed in the media.
The dreamlike aesthetic of the piece fits the subject perfectly; it juxtaposes retro stock film with a multifaceted depiction of what a real woman is. Every element of this ad complements the other, from the colour scheme to the movement of the camera; it’s a treat for the senses.
I love the powerful call to action that concludes the ad, “let’s think about what we think about when we think of a woman” – it challenges the audience to think about outdated gender stereotypes and ideas about what a woman should be/look like etc. It’s about time we really started to tackle these issues in the media; more of this please!
Walking Women – Netti Hurley
While not an ad, Netti Hurley’s short film ‘Walking Women’ was the one of first projects that sprung to mind when I sat down to write this. I was fortunate to watch Netti in action when she shot this at Sugar Studios back in May. ??Netti is a talented London-based filmmaker whose signature style is cinematic, empathetic and powerful. Her work focuses on the female experience outside of conventional beauty standards, tackling taboos in a unique way.
It was incredible to watch the cast and crew create such powerful visual discourse right in front of my eyes. What better way to capture the strength and beauty of the female body than by challenging the hypersexualised depiction of women that constantly bombards us in the media? Women walking totally free of any kind of insecurity and the scrutiny of others – what’s not to love?