Nothing But Bubble with Sony, Part Two: "Foam City"

When last I left you in Part One, I had traveled to Miami under mysterious circumstances with a few haunting questions on my mind:

What is DIME?
What is going on here?
What’s up with Sony?
Did I forget to pack underwear?

After leaving me burning with curiosity for days (which turned out to be quite intentional), Sony finally revealed things.

Turns out, DIME stands for Sony Digital Imaging Europe. Also, Sony was having a new commercial being conjured up for them in Miami, they brought me down here to experience and record what was going on, and I did in fact remember to pack my underwear.

But enough about underwear. Let me tell you about this effervescent Sony production.

A briefing was held Sunday morning by James Kennedy, Marketing Manager of Sony Europe, Mike Wells, Producer and Partner of HLA, and Jonathan Pangu, Account Director of Fallon London. As for how it went, let’s just say that when it comes to recent Sony advertising, and you’re told right off the bat that you’re going to be seeing some amazing things, it’s a good bet that you can take them at their word. Why? Two words: Sony Bravia. Ok, three words: Sony Bravia commercials.

In 2005, they dropped 250,000 super balls on San Francisco.
In 2006, they blew up 70,000 liters of paint in Glascow.
And in 2007, they released 2.5 tons of Play-Doh bunnies in New York City

In the rare event that you haven’t seen them yet, go check out Sony Bravia "Balls", Paint and Play-doh. (see also Threads, High Definition experience also with bubbles and even a poodle, and the Tango Balls homage and the überfunny Battlefield2 trailer homage to Sony Bravia balls. )

Well, now they’re bringing the same sort of creative over-the-toppitude to their digital imaging line of products. In particular, their Handycam, alpha and Cyber-shot. Unlike the Bravia spots, however, this time they’re dealing with three different technologies and audiences.

So what did they decide to do? Why, they did what any agency would do if they happened to be Fallon London - they decided to go with bubbles and foam. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of bubbles and foam. A city of foam.

Foam City.

Of course, this sort of idea had a few questions that came with it...

How does one get enough foam to make a foam city? Oh, you just go and build the biggest foam machine in the world, that’s how. Check out these stats on their marvelous machine:

  • It is 2.8 meters in diameter.
  • It uses 1,000 liters of water to create 2,000,000 liters of foam per minute.
  • It can fill up an Olympic swimming pool in only 24 seconds.
  • It is estimated that 460 million liters of foam will be made by the end of this production.
  • It is modular for easier transport.
  • It is designed to complement most any decor.

    Where do you go to get some of the best bubbles in the world? For this, they found Allan the Bubble Professor, with fifteen years of bubbling away in the bubble business. Not only did he take them to Bubble School, but he also custom-built machines for more customized bubbles. Yes, my friends, now you can pimp your bubble.

    How do you get a city to agree to get filled with foam? It takes more than a memo. First, it took Miami a while to take the requests seriously, and who can blame them? It also took a massive amount of coordination between the production team and city departments such as the public works, police, film commission, etc. And then there was the small task of getting a hundred businesses at the locations to shut down for the production.

    How many people does it take to pull off a seven day shoot of this scale? Well, along with director Simon Ratigan, it’s taking a crew of 150 (18 of which are working the foam), a documentary filmmaker, photographer, 20 journalists, 200 people before the camera recording their experiences with their Sony cameras, and another crew to film the crew filming the people recording their experiences with their Sony cameras.

    Other tidbits of information:

    The foam is completely safe, approved by MAFF and FDA certified, and comes in three different densities for different uses during the shoot.

    Miami was chosen as the location because, well, it’s Miami - colorful, bright and lively, which fit the Foam City mood perfectly.

    Combining the three main cameras being used for this production, it is estimated that they'll end up with 80,000 feet of film and 16 hours of footage, all for a 90 second commercial. Excellent.

    The commercials are scheduled for spring and summer flights.

    But enough with the trivia and chatter and on with photos from the latest Sony epic production - Foam City.

    Enjoy. - Clay

    The kids .


    The commercial is here:
    Sony - Foam City - (2008) :60 (UK / USA)

    And a four minute "making of" extra film is here.
    Sony - Foam city Happening - (2008) 4:00 (UK)

  • Comments (16)

    • Dabitch's picture

      AH, but this Sony Foam City is all white! are they changing the color strategy? :)

      Mar 11, 2008
    • Allan1's picture

      Maybe they can change the foam to whatever colors they choose during post???

      Mar 11, 2008
    • Dabitch's picture

      All I know is that now I'm very curious about this ad. I hope the soundtrack is good.

      Mar 11, 2008
    • adlib's picture

      I wish I was that guy driving the truck!

      Mar 11, 2008
    • alex's picture

      Soundtrack? It's got to be Foam on the Range.

      Mar 11, 2008
    • Dabitch's picture

      Nono, it's Miami. It'll have to be reviving Mellow Yellow with "Sand and foam". Teehee.

      Mar 11, 2008
    • brandonbarr's picture

      Colour like no other is a Bravia positioning line, not Sony in general. If this is for a general line of imaging products, I imagine color will not be the focus of the spot.

      Mar 11, 2008
    • Dabitch's picture

      Of course you're absolutely right and I'm messing Bravia in where it doesn't belong. But then I'm still stumped as to what the foam might "symbolize"? Sharper image detail? :)

      Mar 11, 2008
    • Robblink's picture

      Then the homeless people of Miami stumbled onto the street and became instantly clean!

      Mar 11, 2008
    • Dabitch's picture

      By the way, did anyone else notice that "Ruth from Sony" twittered about foam city while it was happening? In that she twitters that Miami got a free deep clean: "a special spray reduces the foam, then giant street cleaners clear the leftovers away. So the streets of Miami get a free deep clean!"

      Mar 12, 2008
    • Dabitch's picture


      Three two.. ONE

      More foam!

      Oh I am *so* annoyed that it wasn't me who got to go now! ARGH! Clay-envy!

      By the way, I found one of thse films over here “Sony DIME Press Event - Foam City, Miami” where a pro-photagrapher shares his observations of the event.

      Mar 17, 2008

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    claymore Creative Director, copywriter and ad connoisseur that has been riding the wild surf of advertising in style, panache and grace for two decades.