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Laika/house Puts Cuervo History in a Bottle

LAIKA/house teams with McCann New York to create a new integrated stop-motion campaign for Jose Cuervo Tradicional with a 60-second spot that takes viewers on a journey through Cuervo’s history.

LAIKA/house teamed with McCann New York to create a new integrated stop-motion campaign for Jose Cuervo Tradicional, the world’s first tequila. The 60-second spot takes viewers on a journey through Cuervo’s history, all inside real, handcrafted Jose Cuervo Tradicional dioramas.

The campaign debuted May 1 on screens everywhere, including integration in a new virtual reality app. About 80 crew members/artists worked through the winter hand-making tiny agave plants, sculpting historic figures, sewing tiny costumes, building volcanoes, painting tiny bottles, lighting practical street signs and molding/casting 4-foot Cuervo bottle replicas.

To start, everything centered around the bottle. First, LAIKA/house artists milled a wooden bottle and covered it with plaster. It was sanded and smoothed, and a sculptor added raised letters. The bottle was then sprayed with a high-gloss automotive paint for a smooth finish. From there, the smooth, gray bottle was used to create the mold to make nine clear resin bottles, all of which were sanded and polished until they looked like glass. The entire process to make one bottle took about four weeks.

While the bottles were being made in the shop, characters fabricators and sculptors collaborated with the agency team to design 65 roughly four-inch puppets. One of the lead characters was Margarita, who was the beautiful inspiration for her namesake cocktail. Character designers led by LAIKA/house Art Director Alan Cook reviewed reference before focusing on the character and her effect on the story forming around her.

Once the concepts were approved, sculptors interpreted the designs into the practical world and in the right scale. Each figure had to fit into the final dioramas, so prop sizes and environments became part of the character design process. Each character was sculpted, molded, painted and dressed in custom costumes. All elements inside the bottle were dependent on each other and their relationship to the scene and the camera. Everything worked in harmony to give a believable look and feel. In addition to the 65 puppets, the fabricators created hundreds of props, including surfboards, palm trees, tequila barrels, agave plants, cannons, donkeys, guns...

A CG pre-visualization of the viewers' movement through the scene was created to establish how the camera would move through the space of each bottle. Using this as a guide, foam core mock-ups were built of each vignette to ensure the camera, set lighting as well as all characters and props would fit correctly inside each of the bottles.

While the props and characters were finalized, the stage crew built the sets and started to program lighting and motion-controlled camera moves. After all the elements were installed and glued down, the vignette was carefully slide into the bottle. Camera movements were finalized and the shot was captured. The process was repeated nine times to create the final 60-second spot.

Source: LAIKA/house

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.