When the company behind one of India’s most popular beverages, the mango drink Frooti, approached New York-based studio Sagmeister & Walsh to create an extensive branding campaign to pair with its new Pentagram-designed logo, the pair traveled to India to get a sense of its advertising landscape. "We noticed how most of the advertising and billboard campaigns used a similar formula: images of people or product shots with lots of copy," Jessica Walsh, art director of the campaign, writes in an email. "Everything is calling for your attention in the same language. Some places in Mumbai felt like an advertising graveyard." Frooti’s new logo is its first in 30 years (many consumers are not happy about the switch), and Sagmeister & Walsh wanted the campaign to stand out from this busy, homogenous landscape.
Frooti's parent company, Parle Agro, chose to rebrand the drink as it launches a new juice formula that uses more mango juice pulp. To announce the improvement, the company wanted to give the brand a new look that would separate it from its largest competitors, like Maaza (a Coca-Cola-owned fruit drink brand) and Slice.
Sagmeister & Walsh's solution was to create a miniature world. They used tiny scaled models of vehicles, little people figurines used for railroad train sets, and real mangoes. It was all shot by artist and photographer Henry Hargreaves, who excels at using food as an artistic medium. For the commercials, these worlds were all stop-motion animated. "Only the Frooti packaging and mangoes were kept in real-life scale," Walsh says. "This allowed the packaging and the mango to appear as the hero of the shots, while allowing us to tell stories and add moments of humor in the images." In the various videos, mangoes watch cricket, fall in love, and douse themselves in color for the Holi Festival.
Even one of the world’s richest movie stars, "King of Bollywood" Shah Rukh Khan, appears in Lilliputian form in most of the Frooti commercial (Khan is the brand’s celebrity ambassador)—for which Sagmeister & Walsh collaborated with filmmaker and artist collective 1stAveMachine and animation collective Stoopid Buddy Stoodios.
The stop-motion animation was a painstaking process. "We had each character in the film 3-D-printed in every single pose they were in during the commercial," Walsh says. They designed every detail down to the clothes each figurine wore. Some characters, like the miniature Shah Rukh Khan, had 30 poses. "It would have been much easier to animate the entire thing in post-production, but we wanted to do it with stop-motion photography to give a quirky and endearing look to the animation style." A two-second scene could take more than two hours to shoot. According to Walsh, Frooti director Nadia Chauhan said that India hasn’t seen this style of stop-motion animation in commercials before. Walsh hopes the technique and this miniature world becomes a reusable visual language for the brand for years to come.
In addition to the commercial, Sagmeister & Walsh designed brand extensions like a Frooti recipe website, which is designed to appeal to older consumers; a social media strategy; fruit-filled GIFs; and Frooti games. See the whole campaign here.