If you type ‘drum solo’ into google chances are ‘Phil Collins’ will pop up in the suggested search list. In fact, this is what popped into Argentinian director Juan Cabral‘s mind, while talking to crew during a rain break on set. Dude! Greatest drum solos of all time? Go! … “Air Tonight – Phil Collins”. This resulted in a whimsical brainwave, he went on to plan out a fully formed clip of a gorilla performing ‘Air Tonight’.  He had originally wanted to use it for a short film… However back at work at Fallon London where Juan was a creative director they were approached to do an advert less ordinary.

Cadburys Chocolate wanted to do a fun ‘feels’ advert, as 2007 was all a little too serious and chocolate should be more fun less work. Random humour and sparkly unicorn adverts weren’t a thing yet and there was a lot on the line. They wanted to get some love back and Juan Cabrals dreamed up his ape suit plan. Phil Rumbol, (director of marketing at the Cadburys at the time) magically got the idea and gave it the go ahead.

After hunting down a decent animatronic gorilla costume (from the movie Congo) and an actor to wear it. They began filming. The actor had experience in costumes but not drumming and just memorised a routine. Add to this not being able to see well, and the amount of ‘feels’ the take required, the odds were against them.

When it was done, Phil Rumbol showed the ad to Cadburys and was told the ad was ‘never going to be aired’ –Just like that. Downer.

Phil knew this human approach (the advert didn’t have one chocolate bar or call to action and was very long for a conventional advert) could be a winner. His perseverance paid off. The bigwigs finally acquiesced and the advert went live during the season 8 finale of that Big Brother thing.

Despite the alarm bells from The Suits, the advert won consumers hearts, awards (including top prize at Cannes Lions) and pushed sales up 10% (3 times the normal ROI).

What’s the lesson here? Where are you going with this man?! Brand recognition was solely retained from a solid use of the brand’s purple colour. The success of the advert was the creation of something heartfelt and memorable. Designing, creating and formulating a campaign for a corporation can include heart and creativity. This isn’t an added extra… it’s what makes these adverts tell stories, create trust, brand loyalty, shareable content and basically set up the campaign to win. If this creative director had gone the route more travelled it would of resulted in a middle of the road advert that wouldn’t be the subject of this, or any blog.

I can still hear those Toms… doo-dom doo-dom doo-dom – mmm chocolate.