Gorilla is a British advertising campaign launched by Cadbury Schweppes in 2007 to promote Cadbury Dairy Milk-brand chocolate. The 90-second television and cinema advertisement, which formed the centrepiece of the £6.2 million campaign, was created and directed by Juan Cabral and starred actor Garon Michael. The campaign itself, which comprised appearances on billboards, print newspapers and magazines, television and cinema spots, event sponsorships and an internet presence, was handled by advertising agency Fallon London, with the online segment contracted out to Hyper.
The advertisement, which first appeared on British television on 31 August 2007, has since gone on to appear in a number of other countries, including Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. It has been well received by the public – a version uploaded to video sharing website YouTube received 500,000 page views in the first week after the launch. Polling company YouGov reported that public perception of the brand had noticeably improved in the period following the launch, reversing the decline experienced in the first half of 2007.
The ad consists of a simple, 90-second tracking shot across a music studio, with Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" playing in the background. A large gorilla sitting at a drum kit plays along with the song's famous drum fill.
Gorilla formed a major part of the pitch by Fallon London to secure the contract with Cadbury Schweppes in 2006. Their proposal was to step away from pushing the product through traditional advertising means, and instead produce "entertainment pieces" which would appeal to a broader range of consumers and spread through viral marketing – that is, through word of mouth. To this end, Cadbury ended its ten-year sponsorship of the popular soap Coronation Street.
Public perception of the Cadbury brand had slipped through 2006-7 after a series of public relations blunders and product recalls. In mid-2006, a number of Cadbury lines were found to contain salmonella bacteria, originating from a leaking pipe at the company's factory in Marlbrook. The incident was widely reported in the media, and had a number of knock-on effects: 40 people became ill, and a product recall costing £20 million was initiated. The failure of Cadbury to inform the Food Standards Agency for five months after the problem was discovered resulted in a £1 million fine from Birmingham's Crown Court, and the Food Standards Agency advised the company to improve their "out of date" contamination testing procedures.
Other public relations blunders in the run-up to the campaign included the distribution of a number of Easter eggs containing traces of nuts without nut allergy warnings, a £5 million campaign for Trident chewing gum which was cancelled after complaints that it was offensive, and the temporary closure of Granary Burying Ground, a historic cemetery near Boston, United States, as a result of a treasure hunt organised as a sales promotion. In mid-2007, Cadbury announced that it would be cutting around 7,500 jobs. An internal memo which later leaked revealed that many of the jobs would be moved to Poland, causing an outcry from the manufacturers' trade unions.
It was hoped that the new campaign would serve to boost sales within the UK and prompt higher brand engagement from the public. Much effort was put into making the first advertisement of the new marketing strategy a hit. The creative idea was "founded upon the notion that all communications should be as effortlessly enjoyable as eating the bar itself." Argentine-born Fallon creative director Juan Cabral, who had created the immensely successful Balls and Paint spots for Sony's BRAVIA line of high-definition television sets, wrote and directed the piece, acting as creative director, art director, copywriter and director. It marked his directorial debut. Other people involved in the campaign at Fallon included senior planner Tamsin Davies, account executive Chris Willingham, executive creative director Richard Flintham, and agency producer Nicky Barnes. Matthew Fone was the production company producer. Actor Garon Michael was hired to fill the central role for his previous work in similar roles, having played great apes in the feature films Congo, Instinct and the 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes.
It took three months to produce, though pieces had been used in a large number of other projects prior to Gorilla. The "fur" of the suit is composed of knotted yak hairs. The exposed facial features are silicone, and are moved animatronically, through 27 remote-controlled motors and several levers. Two technicians were needed, in addition to the actor inside the suit, to produce the range of motions displayed in the commercial. The suit was cooled by ice-water tubing and a handheld fan pointed at the mouth between takes. While much of the suit had existed prior to the project, several adaptations were made, including custom-made hands for the drum sequence, foam muscle around the chest and shoulders, a new styling for the pelt, and the addition of a gold tooth, grey hairs, and a studio earpiece to give a more "wizened rock star" appearance.
Shooting took place over several days at Music Bank, the famous rehearsal studios in London. Actor Michael spent forty hours practising the drumming beforehand, but with vision inside the suit limited to a camera feed piped to a small screen inside the head, precision was almost impossible. Many takes ended with the wooden drum sticks broken against the rims, sending shards of wood flying off-camera. This, combined with the difficulty of choreographing the delicate movements of the gorilla head with Michael's acting, meant that 35 takes were required to produce the final 90-second scene.
The spot was lensed by director of photography Daniel Bronks, and edited by Jo Guest at Final Cut, London. Post production was handled by London companies The Moving Picture Company (main body, producer Graham Bird) and Golden Square (end frame, producer Jessica Mankowitz). Sound was designed and arranged by Parv Thind at Wave Studios, London.
The television premiere of the advertisement was on Friday 31 August 2007, during the finale of the eighth series of the United Kingdom reality television show Big Brother, watched by around 14% of British viewers. Additional 90-second spots were commissioned through September, switching to 10-second cuts in October. The 90-second version was rebroadcast as the final commercial in the break before the final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup between England and South Africa on 20 October, with the face of the bass drum emblazoned with an English flag and the slogan "Bring It Home". Another variant of the advert was broadcast a week earlier before the semi-final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup between England and France on 13 October, with the face of the bass drum emblazoned with an English flag and the slogan "Come On Lads". The spot cost Cadbury an estimated £700,000.
Billboard and print campaigns were set up to run alongside the television commercial, and a sponsorship deal with the "Great Gorilla Run" charity fun run through London on 23 September 2007 was set up through Sputnik Communications. An online presence was established with a competition on the Glass and a Half Full Productions website offering tickets to Las Vegas. The Glass and a Half Full Productions website was created by Hyper as part of a UK-focussed digital marketing strategy.
Following the positive reception of the commercial in the United Kingdom and online, Cadbury Canada arranged to show the advertisements in 850 cinemas across Canada throughout November 2007. Further online tie-ins were launched, including an online game and a competition to win a gorilla suit, a purple drum kit and a year's supply of bananas and Cadbury chocolate bars.
The advertisement premiered on New Zealand television on Monday, 30 June 2008. The advertisement also helped "In the Air Tonight" re-enter the New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart at number three in July 2008 and went on to number one the following week, beating its original 1981 #6 peak.
In August 2008, the ad commenced airing on Australian television. It was also re-released in the United Kingdom and Ireland with a new backing track (Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart". According to UK newspaper The Guardian "The new version pays homage to the internet mash-up artist who remixed the original with Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart"
In July 2009, the Cadbury World visitor attraction in Birmingham opened a new area, Advertising Avenue. Towards the end of the attraction, in the Music Shop, a chocolate DJ ('D.J. Choc') invites guests to enjoy four selected clips of favourite Cadbury TV adverts - three of these are broadcast on flatscreen monitors, culminating with the lights in a previously-un-noticed drum booth coming on, with a full-sized anamatronic gorilla drumming to In the Air Tonight.
The campaign was well received by the British public. The commercial was uploaded to video sharing website YouTube shortly after it first aired, and was viewed over 500,000 times in the first week. As of November 2007, it has been viewed over six million times across a large number of video sharing webhosts. 70 Facebook groups appreciating the ad have been set up, with one, named "We love the Cadbury's drumming gorilla", boasting 200 members. A number of spoofs and parodies were quickly uploaded by amateurs with the tacit approval of Cadbury, and the British branch of Wonderbra created and uploaded their own, Dan Cadan-directed version of the advertisement, replacing the gorilla with Wonderbra model (and musician) Jentina with the Cadbury strapline "A glass and half full of joy" being replaced with "Two cups full of joy." While Cadbury tacitly permitted limited display and modification of the commercial without authorisation, the Wonderbra spot was later removed from YouTube following notification from Phil Collins Limited that the piece infringed their copyright to "In The Air Tonight." Gorilla was further parodied as an introduction to the second half of the 2007 Children in Need special, with an actor dressed as Pudsey Bear taking the central role. British comedy series The Mighty Boosh features a drumming gorilla named Bollo, played by Dave Brown, and the actor appeared as Bollo in a viral video auditioning for the Cadbury advert to promote the third series of the show. This video was later included as an easter egg on the DVD release of series three.
There was much speculation when the advert first appeared on how it was made – whether the gorilla was real, animatronic, or a man in a suit. Many believed that Phil Collins himself was the drummer. When asked about Gorilla, Collins jokingly commented that "Not only is he a better drummer than me, he also has more hair. Can he sing too?" "In the Air Tonight" became a popular online download following its appearance in the commercial, reaching a chart position of 14 within the UK Singles Chart despite not being given a physical re-release, and becoming the third-most-downloaded track of the day on the iTunes Store.
Despite reservations that the campaign might prove too abstract and have little effect, Cadbury reported that sales of Dairy Milk had increased 9% from the same period in 2006. Measurements of public perception of the brand carried out by market research firm YouGov showed that 20% more people looked favourably on the brand in the period after the advert's general release than in the previous period. Spokesmen for the company have expressed amazement at the success of the campaign. Notwithstanding the fact that the spot was originally only broadcast online and within the United Kingdom, the commercial appeared in the news in many English-speaking countries such as Canada and Australia, and plans were made for limited expansion of the campaign into these markets. From 23 June 2008, Gorilla was also broadcast in New Zealand with further marketing both on the Cadbury NZ website, and in shopping centres and supermarkets, with models and men in gorilla suits handing out samples of Dairy Milk chocolate.
The advertisement has won numerous awards, including the Epica d’Or for Film 2007, the Grand Cristal at Festival de la Publicité de Méribel, Gold at the British Television Advertising Awards 2008, Gold at the Advertising Creative Circle Awards 2008, Gold at the International ANDY Awards, Black and Yellow Pencils at the D&AD Awards 2008, Gold at the Clio Awards 2008, Bronze at the One Show 2008, the FAB Award 2008, Gold at the Fair Go Ad Awards 2008, and the Film Grand Prix Lion at Cannes Lions 2008, widely considered the most prestigious prize within the advertising community.
VH1 Classic UK also made an ident which shows a man play "In The Air Tonight", and when the famous drum solo comes on, he holds a pair of drumsticks and bangs the pillows in front of him in the tune of the drum solo.
In September 2007, an extended mix of the advertisement was uploaded to YouTube. It featured the original 90sec advertisement, but with the video playing in a loop against the backtracking of the full-length version of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight".
On 30 March 2008, Cadbury began rolling out the sequel to the Gorilla campaign. Using many of the same ideas, Airport Trucks, again written and directed by Juan Cabral, features heavily customised airport ground support equipment racing at night to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now".
On 5 September 2008, a second Gorilla advertisement, featuring Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart", was broadcast on Channel 4 during the Big Brother 9 final. The new version paid homage to the internet mash-up artist who remixed the original with Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart". This advert was immediately followed by a version of Airport Trucks with Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer". In mid March 2009, a version of the advert was shown in Australia, with the gorilla playing the drums along to John Farnham's "You're the Voice". This version of the ad was heavily criticised by the Australian public because it was seen as an inferior copy of the original and tried to make use of a potential resurgence of John Farnham due to the singer being mentioned in Cold Play concerts at the time.
In January 2009, a new advert for Cadbury Dairy Milk was launched featuring dancing eyebrows.
September 2009 saw the move to Fairtrade cocoa beans in Cadbury's Dairy Milk, and a new record label based on Gorilla's campaign ("A Glass and a Half") saw the advert/song Zingolo.