1993. Coca-Cola – Blade Roller

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Japanese version 1

Japanese version 2

Japanese version, 30”

Credits

CompanyThe Coca-Cola Company
  
Advertising AgencyMcCann-Erickson Hakuhodo (Tokyo, Japan)
Creative DirectorsDouglas (Doug) Biro, M. Aoki
  
DirectorDavid Fincher
  
Director of PhotographyJordan Cronenweth, ASC
  
Production CompanyPropaganda Films
ProducerCeán Chaffin
  
Production DesignJeffrey (Jeff) Beecroft
Costumes and ArmorStudioADI (Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc.)
Stunt CoordinatorCharles Picherini Jr.
  
EditorJames (Jim) Haygood
Visual EffectsSean Naughton
Music and SoundRen Klyce

Cast

Akira (boy)Norihito Ohno
Blade RollerHidenori Inaba

Technical Specifications

Runtime60 s, 30 s
  
Aspect Ratio1.33:1
  
AcquisitionFilm
ColorColor
  
Film Negative Format35 mm
Cinematographic ProcessSpherical
  
DeliveryVideo Tape
  
Sound MixStereo

Production Details

CountryJapan
  
LanguageEnglish
  
Principal Photography7 nights
 December 1992
  
Filming LocationsLos Angeles, California
 Bradbury Building
259 West 3rd Street (304 South Broadway)
Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90013
  
Budget$2,300,000
  
Release Date1993

Awards

Winner of the 1993 inaugural AICP Awards for Production Design, Cinematography, and Editorial, and thus preserved in the archives of the Department of Film at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.

Notes

Part of “Always Coca-Cola” 1993 big international commercial campaign of numerous spots, some of them directed by famous film and TV directors, displaying different styles and aimed at a variety of target groups.

Mr. Fincher’s Neighborhood
James Kaminsky
November 1, 1993
Advertising Age (17)

It was, recalls Creative Director Doug Biro, a difficult shoot, given the acrobatic stunts required and the seven successive nights of rain and cold that pelted the crew. Shooting in a desolate section of downtown L.A., the agency team and Fincher worked despite the weather, using the rain to add to the stark mood of the piece. A problem arose with the final shot, where a lone skater tosses his bottle to the kid.

It’s the emotional payoff of the whole commercial, and they almost didn’t get it. A fifty-foot, backlit prop sign, which was supposed to be in the background of this shot, providing an eerie neon-like effect, had blown down the night before.

Fincher and his crew were reduced to cruising the streets of Hollywood in a camera car with a skater, in costume, fastened on the hood, trying to find the right spot to shoot it. Almost out of time, Fincher finally got the shot needed with an improvised lighting arrangement while at his final setup. “And this from a guy who doesn’t like to improvise,” Biro says. “He came up with the solution at the eleventh hour.”

Génération Propaganda
Benoît Marchisio
Playlist Society, 2017

[TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH]

[Fincher] is best when he summons his own references. Doug Biro, creative director for Tokyo-based Coca-Cola and Levi’s, is given a simple assignment by the soda brand: for their next campaign, they want the best. “And the best is Fincher,” he decides. Biro pitches the commercial to the director, who is excited about the idea of filming young people on rollerblades, very fashionable in 1992, the year it is being shot. But Fincher is thinking big. “We had a $1.3 million budget, and Fincher wanted one more. It was huge, for the time. It was during a dinner that he convinced the top brass at Coca-Cola Japan to sign the check. He knew how to pitch!”

“This commercial is Fincher’s homage to Blade Runner. It was clearly David’s intention to do this,” says Biro. “Everyone who worked on this spot, seven freezing nights in the middle of December, from the set designer to the cinematographer, had all worked on Ridley Scott’s film. The technical team even built neon light sources to replicate the intense but almost bleak light of the film.” The client is delighted with the final product: “Coca-Cola wanted exactly this kind of spot, with a very simple story and a very strong aesthetic impact”, says Biro. “It was all about making stories with a very clear high concept“, confirms Stephen Dickstein; “when you added the Propaganda aesthetic, it was a jackpot.” “They revolutionized the way advertising was done,” Biro concludes. “They changed the look of commercials. They really did. All of a sudden, the lighting became important, the angles too, the cinematography imposed itself, it was sexy, daring, very stylized, very powerful… No one was going to do classic commercials there. And they worked for Nike, Pepsi, Coke, brands for young people, a demographic they understood.”

Alec Gillis (studioADI)
September 14, 2019
Instagram

After Alien3, we worked with David Fincher on a few commercials like this Coke commercial for Japan. Fincher used spots like this to experiment and grow as a director, and this is his tribute to Blade Runner. studioADI designed and created the costumes of the Rollerbladers (Rollerbladerunners?) with us handing the body armor off to Chris Gilman’s Global Effects to use in the actual build of the body suits.

Fincher has a wonderfully acerbic sense of humor. When he looked at some of my helmet sketches, he said ‘I can’t have guys skating around with gravy boats on their heads.’ Anybody can give notes like ‘too bulky’ or ‘not elegant’ but to put it into a context of Granma’s dinnerware just says so much more.

Print and Billboard Ad Campaign

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