14th January 2019
Whether on TV, VOD or on our YouTube channel, we hope you’ve had chance to catch the brand new Harrison Spinks ad over the festive period. But how did we decide what story to tell in just 30 seconds? As a company who prides itself on its innovation, vertical integration and the fact that we make over 90% of our components in house, it was always going to be an impossible task to talk about everything we do. Take a look behind the scenes to show how we put together our first TV advert in our 179 year history and how we substantiated our claim as The True Bedmakers.
With the help of our agency partners, we looked at various creative concepts. Eventually, we settled on Harrison The Sheep being the star of our ad and invited the viewer to take a tour with him through the fields of our Yorkshire farm, down the streets we call home and to our factory, where we handcraft every single mattress we produce.
As this was our first ever TV campaign, and the first time we’ve created an integrated consumer-facing campaign in our almost 180-year history, we needed a creative concept that was going to stand out and catch people’s attention – and we felt starring Harrison The Sheep helped us do just that. After all, Harrison Spinks are the only bedmaker in the world to own our own farm where we rear sheep and grow the natural fillings for our mattresses.
Working closely with Brass Agency, we appointed Director Richard Oliver for his high quality grading and experience of previous work incorporating CGI. Richard and his team undertook a full recce of the farm and factory, choosing the areas they wanted to shoot and selecting the cast, all of whom are our real life craftsmen and women, from the factory and sheep from our farm.
The storyboard was set and, working with Flipbook, we began creating our CGI sheep, based on one of our very own Wensleydales, one of the rarest breeds in the UK. Wensleydale sheep are a traditional North Yorkshire breed, and we introduced our own flock on the farm back in 2016 to help with breeding of this rare long-wool breed.
He didn’t always look this woolly! Flipbook took Harrison and our cute cuddly Wensleydale lamb from grey scale animations to these charismatic little fellows in just over 10 weeks.
We wanted to make sure Harrison The Sheep had standout appeal. So we developed his confident strut, curious nature, woolly quiff-like hairstyle and his blue and gold ear tag, denoting the numbers 1840 which link him to the year our Harrison Spinks heritage dates back to. He’s representative of everyone who works at Harrison Spinks, with their passion for their traditional craft, doing things the right way and constant strive for innovation.
On 20th October, the Harrison Spinks stars and helpers for our TV advert gave up their entire Saturday to film in our factory. It was a 6am start for some and a very late finish for others but everyone brought their enthusiasm and were proud to be involved. There were spring machines to be polished, weaving looms to be threaded and workshops to organise.
Our craftsmen and women each obliged to having their make-up done and there was even the odd sneaky selfie snapped by a couple of the guys! It would have been easy to confuse the team with the cast of Emmerdale when the catering van served up a full English breakfast, a two course hot lunch and even afternoon tea!
We shot the final scene on the mattress line late in the evening to finish off with ‘That’s a wrap!’ from Melvin, Andy, Steve and Gareth. Little did Steve know he was about to lose his head in the final edit of the ad!
The following Monday was another early 5am start on the Harrison Spinks farm to make sure we were ready and in situe to capture the glorious sunrise over the fields. Richard had chosen to shoot on the furthest side of the farm and so we all had to trek the equipment over the frosty fields and by the end of the morning no one could feel their toes! Sunrise however did not disappoint and apart from a few curious sheep who thought the camera equipment looked particularly tasty, the shoot went well.
Later, for the close-ups, the Wensleydales got stage fright and refused to perform so it ended up being a trio of Texels who had to take on the starring roles – expertly coaxed with sheep feed by our patient Farmer Liam who had been practicing with the animals the week before.
That afternoon, it was over to Ilkley Moor to make the most of the gorgeous autumnal Yorkshire sunshine and lead Harrison on his journey over to Leeds. After chasing a few rogue hikers off the moors, it was a wrap for day two!
Wednesday morning saw the cordoning-off of The Calls in Leeds, washing down of cobbles with buckets of water and getting the perfect shot of Harrison’s final journey leading to the Harrison Spinks workshop. In the afternoon, it was over to HDTwo to film the final end frame of the advert, bedroom styled by Katie Longshaw-Pye and not to mention parquet floor laid very late into Tuesday night by Paul and Aaron.
The punchy, stand-out tune behind the ad was specifically written and composed for us by The Firm, and sticking with our Yorkshire heritage, we commissioned the fantastic Hyde Park Brass to perform it, putting a modern twist on the traditional Yorkshire brass synonymous with the area. They had great fun recording in the studio for the day and even produced this behind the scenes video for us.
The finishing touch to our TV ad was the voiceover, recorded by local lad Matthew Lewis. Most well-known for his role as Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter films, we chose him because of his friendly and down-to-earth Yorkshire accent. The fact that Matthew now lives with his wife across the pond in LA didn’t deter us and we all dialled into the voice recording studio to capture the final script which meant we didn’t get too star-struck! Matthew was really easy going a pleasure to work with.
Finally, all of the elements came together in December for the final grading and ad preview. We’re really pleased with the results and hope you enjoy our ad too. A huge thank you to all of the Harrison Spinks staff who starred and helped make the project happen and of course all of the support from our wonderful team of agencies.