The secrets behind Sony's new foam ad

Following up 'Balls', 'Paint' and 'Play-Doh' - the world's biggest foam machine

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When Sony came to dream up its new ad campaign, it knew it had to do something impressive. After all, these are the guys who produced the ads featuring millions of bouncing balls as well as the exploding ‘Paint’ and the ‘Play-Doh’ rabbits.

Sony asked the same agency that came up with the ideas for those Bravia ads. Directed by Simon Ratigan, the shoot involved the Downtown area of Miami being transformed into a foam-filled playground. And, while it doesn’t quite have the same visual beauty as when Sony released 300,000 bouncing balls onto the streets of San Fransisco in 2005, the new ad is still highly memorable.

Whole streets were filled with the foam, consisting of bubbles created by the world’s largest foam machine. Built especially for the advert, it produced an unfathomable two million litres of foam every minute. The machine itself is 2.8 metres in diameter and used 460 million litres of foam during the shoot.

Inhabitants of Miami were invited by Sony to take part in the ad – some were even asked to ride bicycles through the foam. "A lot of my work to date has focused on people’s honest experiences and emotions," said Ratigan.

"The final ad will show natural, real life emotions and reactions to a city full of foam." Ratigan worked with 150 crew and over 200 local residents to film the footage. Some 16 hours of film were shot to create the final 90-second ad.

Sealed up drains

This time though, Sony hasn’t looked to promote its Bravia TV range. Instead, the mess made by pumping foam across Miami was to promote Sony’s imaging kit - Handycam, Cyber-shot and its Alpha dSLRs.

Interestingly, Sony was keen to stress to us the lack of environmental impact of the foam ad. The foam produced was non toxic and biodegradable, and it was "broken down quickly using a special spray (used in catering processes) to ensure minimal impact on [the] local environment." All drains were apparently sealed off to ensure the foam didn’t get into the water supply. Aaah.

Special music was composed for the ad unlike ‘Balls’ and ‘Play-Doh’ which featured music from Jose Gonzalez and The Rolling Stones respectively. ‘Paint’, shot on a Glasgow housing estate in 2006, used classical music from Rossini.

'Paint' took 10 days and 250 people to film, with a further 5 days and 60 people to clean up the mess afterwards.