Johnnie Walker - The Man Who Walked Around The World - (2009) 6:28 (UK)

This is about as cool as it gets when telling the history behind your brand. Johnnie Walker and BBH London got Scottish actor Robert Carlisle to narrate the story while walking through the misty Scottish highlands. Shot in one continuos take (#40 to be exact) this really shows off the acting chops that Carlisle possesses as he delivers the 5 minute+ bit while interacting with various props along the way (my favorite is when he gets a drink). Jamie Rafn was the director.

To convey the relentless spirit of the men who created, arguably, the world’s first global brand, we decided to create the longest tracking shot in advertising history. The film was deliberately constructed to make it impossible to hide any invisible cuts. Risky stuff. We also decided very early on that only Robert Carlyle had the skill and charisma to tell this story. As the light failed on the second day of shooting, with only 1½ useable takes in the can, the incredible Mr Carlyle nailed it on his 40th and last attempt.

Agency: BBH, London
Agency Producer: Ruben Mercadel
Creative Director: Mick Mahoney
Senior Creative / Copywriter: Justin Moore
Art Director: n/a
Director: Jamie Rafn
Production Company: HLA, London
Producer: Stephen Plesniak
Director of Photography: George Richmond
Post Production & City: Glassworks, London
Editor & Company: Kate Owen, Marshall Street Editors, London
Shooting date: July 2008

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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Dabitch's picture

Lovely. Makes me want to stand up and applaud.

James_Trickery's picture

Is that a commercial or the worlds most expensive corporate film?

Dabitch's picture

A pal on adlist (adgrunt Alec) just tipped me to the discussion about this ad going on in steadicamforums. Figures I'm not the only one squinting at zooms wonderng how did they shoot that. In the forums they have this;

Got a reply from the DIT:

The job was at least a year ago now, so some details are getting sketchy in my memory - I can't remember what lens it was but I think it might have been an Ultraprime, and I guess a 24 or a 32mm judging from how close Bobby was to the camera.

It was a rickshaw, pulled by two grips, with a garfield mount plus steadicam, operated by George. I'm not sure if the beginning and end were stabilised, but they didn't need it - I remember there was a tiny bit of very organic, non-distracting movement in the original, so I think they have taken it out.

They have done zooming in post on the actual frame during the shot, which ends up being a contrazoom, as the camera is coming further away from Bobby, but they have simultaneously zoomed in on the picture. Watch the background at 1.29 for eg. It's horrible. Again, unnecessary, as they seem to have done that just because they wanted a slightly tighter frame. I think there's another one later, but I don't have time to look for it now.

We had one half day for technical rehearsal, then two days shooting for just this one take. I think we did about 30 in all... I'm pretty sure the one they used was the very final take of all three days.

Carlyle's picture

Jamie Rafn has this to say about it:

"The brief was this fantastic script by Justin Moore at BBH which reduced 200 years of Johnnie Walker history into five and a half minutes of monologue. At the very first meeting Justin and I discussed how brilliant this would be as a real single take but I don't think anyone else really took us seriously. The more we talked however the more it became apparent that this really needed to be done as a single take. Needless to say this caused a certain amount of anxiety for the the powers that be, and I had to do the usual assurances that we had plenty of Plan Bs. The problem was I just knew that anything less than the real thing would not be anywhere near as good, so my Plan Bs were somewhat under-developed to say the least. After the first day of shooting when we hadn't managed to get one usable take I did start to wonder whether my bluff was about to be called in a fairly spectacular way! Thankfully Robert pulled it out of the bag in the very first take of the second day and went on to give us brilliant take after brilliant take. The sense of relief around video city was palpable."