The Story Behind Our TV Advert

28 October 2021


28 October 2021


Did you spot the SS Great Britain on TV this year?

Our TV advert is the perfect introduction to Brunel’s SS Great Britain, highlighting the eclectic mix of activities that we have to offer for a fun family day out, whatever the season.

Created by Fable Studios, a local production company who are part of Treacle 7’s Creative Collective, the ad offers a glimpse into the immersive, multisensory experience aboard the ship and within our two museums.

Originally launched in Summer 2021, we recently adapted the ad to promote the spooky sights and sounds around the site. As part of our ‘it’s more than a ship’ campaign, an idea by Future Kings, it aimed to showcase the breadth of sounds and smells available on site for visitors to discover.

Screenshots from the SSGB TV advert

Fable worked closely with our in-house marketing team to create an advert which captured the atmosphere on site. Our marketing team were keen to shake up the typical blueprint for an attraction TV ad campaign, taking viewers along on a journey through the SS Great Britain.

Rob Holder, Creative Director of Fable Studios, was certainly up for the challenge of bringing the diverse experience to life on screen.

“The team at SSGB had developed a brilliantly unique, ‘experiential’ approach to the idea for the TVC, focusing purely on the way a pair of young visitors would interact, discover and enjoy the site. For Fable Studios, engaging in the creative process and realising this was a breath of fresh air.”

‘Welcome to the SS Great Britain!’

Once the concept was down, the next task was to jam pack everything we have to offer into 30 seconds! Anna Owen, Social & Digital Marketing Officer for the SSGB, said:

“Being new to Brunel’s SS Great Britain, I didn’t realise quite how much there was to do here. There’s so much we filmed that didn’t make it into the final cut for the summer ad so it’s been great to include some of these elements in the October half term version, such as the talking toilet and the Being Brunel train carriage.” 

The ad was an ambitious project for the marketing team, who had never created a TV ad on this scale. The whole process took six weeks, from the drawing board to delivery. We shot the video on 28 June 2021, recruiting staff from different sectors to help us complete the filming in one day.

Fable Studios get ready to roll

With such a tight schedule, Fable Studios and our wonderful SSGB staff were working against the clock. When asked to identify the greatest obstacle they faced during filming, Rob Holder said without hesitation, ‘time! – we had a fantastic young cast and lots to film. All the crew, cast and SSGB team were brilliant at keeping the ‘machine’ moving and each other’s energy and spirits up.’

Fable brought a select team to create dramatic wide shots which display the sheer majesty of our site and intimate close-ups to put across the personal experience. One moment you feel on top of the world on the weather deck, next you are crammed in the nooks and crannies of steerage.

Our wonderful cast brought a great energy to the shoot, showing how lively a day out at the SS Great Britain can be. We formally cast a family of four but to subvert the usual nuclear family slightly, we had Grandad instead of Dad. The cast had a great family dynamic – it may have helped that the children in the ad are siblings in real life!

We wanted to focus on the real moments which make up the visitor experience at the SS Great Britain. Anna Owen spotlighted Grandad having a cup of tea as her favourite moment of filming.

Grandad enjoys a quick tea break at the SSGB

“The actor was brilliant, he really made us laugh when we were filming this scene. I’m sure this bit resonates with any grandparents or parents who have tried to take time for a tea break during a family day out!”

We then used a range of costumed characters who usually work on site: Mr Brunel, First Class Lady, Seaman, Quaker. The remaining ‘visitors’ you see in the advert are staff and volunteers from SS Great Britain, as well as the staff from Fable Studios.

Joe Teanby & Natalie Fey 

It was all hands-on-deck to create some cinematic illusions, for example when you see the gates appear to magically open at the start of the ad, that’s just our Visitor Experience Manager, Noah, and a team member from Fable pulling them open from the other side while trying to remain hidden!

The day wasn’t without its challenges, the scene in the Dry Dock proved a tricky task, trying to get the children to pretend they were underwater was unexpectedly difficult… We also used a drone to create the final shot, operated by Mohiudin Malik (AKA Mo from the IT Team!). Though he thoroughly enjoyed working with Fable to create some epic drone shots, there were some mishaps waiting to happen when flying a drone in a harbour environment. We had a couple of staff members on ‘seagull watch’ to look out for those pesky birds that took a great interest with the drone, flying extremely close at times.

After an exciting and exhausting day of filming, it was over to the editors to work their magic. Speaking on the post-production process Rob Holder said:

“At Fable Studios, we pride ourselves on communication from the very start and ensuring that everyone involved in a project is in agreement about what we are trying to produce. That way, once the filming is complete, we are 95% of the way to the finished film. We at Fable Studios are very proud to have been able to make a great TV Advert for one of Bristol’s most historic attractions.”

The advert certainly did our ship justice, showcasing the sensory surprises on site which bring the history of the ship to life and make the SS Great Britain a top family day out. Joe Brunel even gets recognised by young visitors as ‘the man from the TV advert’.

Check out our October half term TV ad below!

Author: Ella Calland

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