Wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation teamed up with iconic animation house Aardman on its latest campaign highlighting the plight of animals in captivity.
The spot, by Engine, recalls the format of Aardman's Oscar-winning animated short film "Creature Comforts" (later used in advertising for British Gas), with audio from real-life interviews of people delivered by animated creatures. This time, the critters are animals in captivity, and the interview subjects are humans in pandemic lockdown.
The people's complaints about their feelings of captivity, paired with animated animals such as tigers, an orangutan, an elephant and some humorously incontinent lemurs, become a hard-hitting message about animal suffering. The film ends by pointing out that their entrapment will last a lifetime—rather than just a few months.
To ensure that the accounts were honest, participants were unaware of the true purpose of the project until after their interviews were finished. Characters were then designed to match the voices, and the backgrounds designed to reflect the harsh conditions in which captive wild animals are forced to live.
The film was directed by Aardman's Peter Peake and delivered in 2D animation during lockdown conditions (Claymation, the original technique for "Creature Comforts," would have been too difficult to execute under the circumstances).
"Although lockdown presented us with challenges in production terms, it inspired some really poignant and touching insights from our interviewees," said Peake in a statement. "I was also bowled over by how my small but perfectly formed crew came together so cohesively despite working remotely. We'll all remember lockdown for a long time to come and it was great to have a project like this to get me through it.”
"Lockdown provided us with a unique opportunity to talk to people about animal captivity in a way that they could really empathize with," added Steve Hawthorne, creative director at Engine. "We were able to create an ad that hopefully gets people thinking and does justice to the legacy of Creature Comforts while giving it a fresh, topical and heart-wrenching twist."
The collaboration follows Engine's work on another Born Free Foundation animated film, Bitter Bond, about the hunting industry in South Africa. The campaign garnered over 250,000 petition signatures, resulting in the South African Tourism Services Association withdrawing support for any interactions between tourists and wild animals, such as lion cub petting.