Ted Baker’s new ad campaign, from ad agency Poke, features a familiar but always popular storyline: the glamorous world of secret agents, in this instance sent to foil the plot of a dastardly villain determined to create a couture catastrophe.
The campaign’s story might be a recognisable one, but what sets the work apart is its impeccable filmmaking, created by emerging directing team Crowns & Owls. Sitting behind their cinematic imagery is also some clever tech which is used in a multitude of ways: first in teasing the campaign across social media, then in using Google App’s voice search to bring the retail experience to life and allow audiences to win prizes in store.
The film, titled Mission Impeccable, is also entirely shoppable – so if you like the look of the outfits the agents are wearing, with one click (well, probably a few clicks, and of course some money), they can be yours. Watch the work below and view the shoppable version at tedbaker.com.
This is the second major film created for Ted Baker by Crown & Owls, who are a collective of three. They only arrived in London from Leeds in 2014 but have already signed to Iconoclast production company, after previously being with Blink’s now-defunct fashion arm White Lodge. (Like the agents in the film, the team prefer not to give their real names so I will be referring to them throughout with their group moniker.)
In 2015, after first working with brand on smaller behind-the-scenes projects, they created Wonders Never Cease (shown below), an unlikely caper shot in the Natural History Museum in London. The story featured two (impressively dressed, natch) archaeologists competing with each other to be the most impressive figure in the museum world. It is quirky and visually impressive and – somewhat to the surprise of Crowns & Owls – caught the attention of movie director Guy Ritchie.
“Guy got in touch with Ray [Kelvin], who is the CEO of Ted Baker, the founder, and said ‘I really want to do something with those guys, would you be able to put me in touch’, and obviously we obliged pretty quick,” say Crowns & Owls.
After meeting on the set of Ritchie’s forthcoming film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, they decided to work together on the new campaign, with Ritchie offering some guidance and mentorship. “We went away and came up with the scene and then sat in a bunch of script sessions with Guy and he shaped the content a little bit,” they continue. “He was fairly involved, it wasn’t just an endorsement thing, he genuinely was interested in what we could craft together. It was a good experience, he’s a good coach.”
The shoppable element of the film, while a key component of the finished campaign, was not part of the team’s initial plans for it, and instead came later. “The brand were really interested in that, and there’s a lot of facts and figures behind why they’re pushing that as a stronghold for the campaign,” explain Crowns & Owls. “We’d dabbled in it with a few other projects and they’d got some good results out of it, and they turned around, after the film was in pre-production, and said ‘it would be really great to try this shoppable thing for this one’.”
The collective did have some concerns as to whether they’d be able to pull off the shoppable effect without compromising their filmic style. “The interesting thing for us was the film is basically a neo-noir, set in the shadows of the fashion world and is very contrasty and moody, and we were [worried whether] the shoppable thing was going to work. Are you going to see the clothes in all their glory, without compromising the drama a little bit? It was a bit of a fine line in that respect, especially from a cinematography perspective.”
Everyone, including Crowns & Owls, are ultimately really pleased with the finished film, though they admit it was a learning experience in terms of how to create shoppable content. “This was a bit of an experiment and it seems to have been received quite well,” they say. “Should we go again with a shoppable thing – which is highly likely that we will – we’re going to embrace it a lot more and the whole concept will be more adhered to the shoppable idea rather than being something which is attached to it. It will be more intrinsic to the campaign from its genesis.”
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