King and Country (K&C), a full-service, design-centric production company, makes trash cans talk, dumpsters giggle and recycling bins sing in a freshly launched campaign for Waste Management, a nationally recognized leader in waste collection and recycling. Working directly with Houston ad agency The Company of Others, King and Country created a series of :15 spots, which debuted during the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open on January 31 and February 1. The “Bin-to-Bin” campaign featuring Waste Management’s receptacles talking, joking and even singing about the trash and recycling they collect is the first time the brand has taken a comedic approach with their advertising.
The Company of Others was drawn to K&C because of their proven animation skills and their collaborative approach in creating the fun-loving campaign. The creative was helmed by K&C Partner/Creative Director Rick Gledhill.
“At King and Country, integrating live-action with exceptional photo-real VFX is what we do,” says Gledhill. “From the subtle comedic sensibility of the container-characters to the photoreal potential of humanized inanimate objects, the whole campaign was a perfect fit.”
“When we saw their reel, we knew King and Country could handle the Waste Management talking trash cans,” says Katy Bomar, Broadcast Producer of The Company of Others. “We knew they were the right company for the project. The finished spots prove that to be true. Working with the K&C team was a pleasure from start to finish.”
Each 15-second spot follows its own premise and humorous storyline, while highlighting the features and importance of Waste Management’s services. From the residential trash toter that takes a topsy-turvy on a collection truck, to pun-loving dumpsters trading quips behind a commercial building, each commercial has its own unique charm.
King and Country shot the live-action in one day on two different locations, and by working efficiently achieved seven setups with only one company move. Filming “stunt” trash cans and dumpsters to capture texture and lighting reference, K&C returned to the studio with the footage where they re-built all the characters from the ground up, gave them personalities, and most importantly, the ability to talk.
It was those mouths, from their material-realistic bendability to the voiceovers and sound design that Gledhill credits with elevating the character design. Working within the parameters of practical material elements, King and Country concepted interesting, character-defining features, such as adding trash bags and recycled elements, to make up the teeth and the contours of their tongues, and injecting the sound of trash rattling around the containers’ bellies when they laugh. Each detail infused another layer of humanity into the work.
“Even though these spots are fun and lighthearted, we grounded the action in reality,” says Gledhill. “And inside those limitations, we found comedic and character gold.”
“A key factor to making the trash toters and dumpsters really come to life was animation,” adds Andrew Cook, K&C VFX Supervisor. “It was an animation and rigging challenge to have the trash cans have a full range of emotional capacity with little more than just a flapping lid. For the dumpsters, it was also a challenge to show emotions, as well as clear phonic shapes on the top lid to play as pupils, eye brows and lips all at the same time. During the process, the whole CG pipeline stayed non-destructive. This was imperative to allow for changes to happen later in the process without requiring a lot of reworking setup.”
The timing, delivery and personality of the voiceover artists rounded out the spots. King and Country recorded the voiceovers early on in the process and had the artists ad-lib during the session for even more natural deliveries which helped to inject the characters with authentic, sincere personalities. All together, this made for a cohesive, humorous campaign.
“From the stunning director’s treatment to the subtle scuff marks on the containers, King and Country’s vision of how these spots should look and feel was in lockstep with ours,” says Suzie “Z” Jennings, Creative Director of The Company of Others. “The level of talent and commitment they put against the production of these little gems shows on the screen. Even after seeing them hundreds of times, the spots continue to delight me. Proof of the power of partnership.”
“King and Country was given the opportunity to pitch for the Waste Management ‘Bin to Bin’ campaign and show we had what it takes to make trash cans come to photoreal life,” concludes Jerry Torgerson, K&C Partner/Executive Producer. “Our live-action direction and 3D teams combined seamlessly to elevate this campaign to the next level for our client. This project proves again that when given a chance to be in the mix, King and Country makes great things happen. Hats off to the amazing agency team from The Company of Others. We can’t wait until the next one.”