Accomplice Media's Eric Will Celebrates Asia's Love for Kite Flying in Campaign for Axiata and MC Saatchi
In "Kites," the director uses a popular Asian pastime to create an emotional connection to the international telecom giant.
(June 19, 2014)
Eric Will has directed a new international campaign for telecom giant Axiata that uses kites as a symbol for the company's work in connecting people across Southeast Asia. Will, who is represented in the U.S. by Accomplice Media, spent more than two months and traveled to more than a half dozen countries in directing the project. Titled Advancing Asia, the campaign was conceived by M&C Saatchi and produced by Carrot Films.
Kites shows people representing various Southeast Asian countries and cultures building, buying and flying kites. It includes scenes of Sri Lankan artists painting kites, Bangladeshi school children examining kites in a street market and Indonesian men flying kites while riding horseback inside the caldera of a volcano. The story builds to a street scene in central Kuala Lumpur where people gather to launch a giant kite. In the final scene, thousands of kites come together to form the Axiata logo.
The commercial is meant to show how Axiata, which operates under a variety of subsidiary names across Asia, unites people. "Kite flying is an important phenomenon across Asia," Will explains. "Everyone grows up with kites and each country has its own design...so kites make a natural metaphor for connection."
Will shot in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore and other countries and shooting conditions were often challenging. In Bangladesh, he shot workers at a tea plantation during monsoon season. In Indonesia, he worked with local horsemen who had to negotiate a narrow strip of land above a huge volcanic crater. "We had only 15 minutes to shoot that scene before the sun disappeared behind the volcano," Will recalls. "I spent a lot of time earlier in the day training the riders and that saved the shot. We got magic!"
Will found subtle ways to integrate Axiata's branding into virtually every scene. In the Sri Lanka sequence, workers are seen applying a billboard to a wall. In another scene an ad appears on the back of a Tuk Tuk cab. "Our aim was to make the brand visible throughout the film but to integrate it in a natural way," he says. "Otherwise you run the risk of undermining the message."
That message, adds Will, is to show how Axiata is bringing people from different cultures closer together. "It's nice when you can connect a brand to the human touch," he observes.
Kites follows a highly successful campaign with a similar theme that Will directed for Swisscom. In Bubbles, people across Switzerland are enchanted by the sight of giant soap bubbles that float past them in factories, offices and hair salons. Again, the point is to link an impersonal brand with a human emotion.