DDB, London creates a new ad that highlights the ugly face of prejudice in the film industry
Video: Changing Faces "Leo" by DDB, London.
A man waits in a car on a rainy night, watching a woman through her dining room window. His face is marked with scars. What do you think is going to happen? It is people’s assumptions and reactions to this that are addressed in DDB, London’s new commercial for Changing Faces, a UK charity that supports and represents people with disfigurements.
DDB, London has been working on projects with the charity for a number of years, focusing on changing people’s behaviour towards facial disfigurement. The idea behind the new ad came from the realisation that conditions like scars or burns are the most common indicators of an evil or villainous film character and is part of a bigger initiative, “Face Equality on Film”, which calls for balanced portrayals of people with disfigurements in movies.
“We noticed that people with facial disfigurement are always portrayed as the baddies in films,” says DDB Creative Director, Chris Lapham.
“Whenever you see an unusual looking face on the big screen, you automatically assume something nasty is going to happen. We thought this insight would make a great cinema commercial that could actually influence the viewer and change their behaviour.”
The ad, “Leo”, concludes with the man approaching the woman’s door and knocking before she answers, looking stunned for the moment. She embraces her friend who has just arrived early for dinner.
The point of this spot was that the viewer’s mind must make the leap and assume something bad or sinister is about to happen. It is their assumptions or prejudices that fill in the blanks.
“We were very careful not to lead the viewer too much, because of this,” says Chris.
“That’s why everything in the piece is perfectly plausible. At the end of the day, it’s just a guy who happens to be disfigured going round to a friend’s for dinner.
“Jim Weedon was chosen to direct this because he understood the delicate balance of making a piece of film that created a horror tone but at the same time didn’t lead the viewer. It was a very tricky thing to achieve.”
The film has a slightly dark and eerie tone to it. The director also referenced the scene from ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ where tension is created by just the smallest sounds that are visible, which is why everything heard in the film is what’s already there on screen and nothing else.
“When we finished shooting, we initially thought the edit would be the hardest part but the sound was the most difficult by far,” says Creative Director, Aaron McGuck.
“We knew we couldn’t have music as again that would influence too much, but we still wanted to create an interesting piece of sound.
Image: The ad stars Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery
“The parallel radio music idea came about from watching a soap opera episode where the same thing happened, and it created an intriguing link between two characters that drew you in to the story.
The ad will be shown at 750 cinemas in the UK (hoping to reach an audience of over a million movie goers) and stars British Drama, Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery and Leo Gormley, a man with burn scars.
The campaign will extend to Facebook too.