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Aardman Animations Create New Cinema and TV Ad Campaign For Wal-Mart

Aardman Animations has produced the new cinema and TV ad campaign for Wal-Mart which stars Wally and Marty, two renegade elves.
The computer-graphics (CG) spots promote 'Toyland', the upgraded and expanded toy stores located inside Wal-Mart stores worldwide.
The campaign was created by The Geppetto Group, New York, an agency that specializes in youth marketing and in creating brand-equity characters. Wally & Marty are the first-ever brand equity characters for the retail giant Wal-Mart. The campaign broke in cinemas and on TV on November 1.
"We were delighted to work with Geppetto on the Wal-Mart campaign because we're so well-known for our stop frame animation, that many ad agencies don't even know that we do computer graphics," said Heather Wright, 42, who heads the Aardman TV commercials business. "The Wal-Mart work was perfect for us, because it required a high level of characterization and humour, which is central to our creative DNA."
The campaign was animated and directed by Aardman Animations' Paul Smith, 37, who taught himself how to direct film by building and filming clay-animated characters in his unheated garden shed in rural England.
In 'Toyland', the 60-second hero spot with several variations, Wally & Marty are a pair of 3-D animated 'renegade elves' who started their own business, Toyland, a magical place where Wal-Mart's most innovative toys are tested, built and delivered.
The Wal-Mart spots began life as a series of pencil sketches by Geppetto Group creatives. The agency conceived a fantastic breakaway wonderland in which elves produce toys in 'Weegloos' that cater to different varieties of toys. Geppetto designed Wally & Marty as elves too nutty, ambitious and entrepreneurial for 9-5 work, so they broke away and opened 'Toyland', their utopian vision of an innovative, outside-the-box workshop where only the coolest, most engaging and interactive toys would be produced.
"The character designs has a very stylized, 2D, cartoon look," said animator/director Paul Smith. "It was a challenge to translate the look and feel of Geppetto's original pencil drawings into three dimensions."
Chris McKee, the Chief Creative Officer of The Geppetto Group and the man who conceived and created the Wally & Marty campaign, was delighted with Aardman's interpretation of the agency's characters.
"We hired Aardman Animations because what I have always loved about them is that their work is eccentric and smart and wonderful and original, and it always looks new, but at the same time all of their work has the feel of the classical," McKee said.
The spot begins with a high overhead shot at night of a wooden crate descending by parachute into the 'Weegloo' inhabited by the two renegade elves.
Since the two characters are not seen in the opening, Smith designed the sequence to be more visually dramatic, with more lighting effects, textures and colour schemes.
The Toyland" environment is flatter than to be expected from high-end CG animation. "The floors are flat, not shiny and photorealistic," Smith said. "We want your eye to focus on Wally & Marty and on the story and on the toys. The backgrounds have more of a storybook, supporting feel."
Smith did all the voices in the original rough cuts. Geppetto Group hired a British actor for Wally's voice because they wanted to convey Wally's reserve and thoughtfulness.
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