Buzz Image Group Ignites Beaver Craze
Canadians love Frank and Gordon. The stars of a current ad campaign for Bell Canada, the cute, cuddly, computer-animated beavers have quickly become a national sensation. A recent poll by a Canadian radio station found that 89-percent of the country citizens give the beavers the thumbs up making them arguably Canada most popular personalities. The Frank and Gordon ads are produced by Buzz Image Group, a Montreal visual effects, production and graphics design studio, for Bell Canada ad agency Cossette Communication Group. To date, Buzz has produced a half dozen animated spots for the campaign and has several more in the works. Their success is helping to fuel a vigorous expansion by the company. ‘This campaign has been a unique opportunity for Buzz?‚àö√ë‚àö√Üit may be the biggest CG advertising campaign ever produced in Canada and perhaps anywhere,’ explained Buzz executive vice president Benoit Drouin. ‘Our staff has enjoyed working on it, and its helped us to grow our animation unit.’ The Frank and Gordon phenomenon has taken everyone involved by surprise. The project began last fall when Cossette asked Buzz for helping in producing a test spot. ‘The agency wanted to test a couple of concepts, including one with animated beavers,’ recalled Buzz Image Group Sandra Germain, who directs the spots. ‘It tested very well, so they decided to roll it out in Quebec.’ Buzz initially produced two spots in French and English for airing in Quebec. The first spot shows the beavers in a green room as they wait for a chance to audition for the role of Bell Canada ‘spokesanimals.’ The spots were an immediate hit, generating enormous response from viewers, prompting Cossette to roll out the campaign nationally. The original spots aired during the Canadian broadcast of the Super Bowl and were rated the game best spots among Canadian viewers. Cossette then asked Buzz to create three more spots continuing the beavers’s adventures for airing during the Winter Olympics. The beavers’s role was also widened. Where the first spots were tied to Bell wireless phone service, the second flight of spots encompassed all Bell units?‚àö√ë‚àö√Üthe first time a single creative concept has been used company-wide. The beavers also appear in radio and print advertising, and, naturally, have their own website, www.frankandgordon.ca. Fan clubs have sprung up across Canada. The beavers are also the subject of numerous blogs. Buzz handles the entire animation process for the spots in house. Additionally, the studio performs visual effects services and final post work, including compositing the beavers into live action backgrounds. The Buzz creative team works closely with agency creatives in fleshing out the concepts for the spots and the characters of Frank and Gordon. ‘We have a great rapport with the agency and contribute a lot of ideas to the spots,’ said Germain. ‘It was a challenge to breathe life into the characters and to make them act like humans. It fun watching their personalities grow.’ Beavers aren’t the only thing occupying Buzz’s time and attention. The studio is also providing soup-to-nuts production and post production services for new ad campaigns for Toyota and Coors Light. And recently, Buzz has been generating some buzz in Hollywood. The studio provided visual effects services for the Academy Award-nominated film Brokeback Mountain, and is now busy with two other major studio releases, Warner Bros.’s The Fountain with Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz and Sony Friends with Money, starring Jennifer Aniston. ‘While we are thrilled by our success with Bell Canada, we are equally pleased by the increase in work coming to us from the U.S. and elsewhere abroad,’ said Drouin. ‘There is an enormous base of talent in Montreal and we are fortunate to have many excellent artists on our staff. The rest of the world is beginning to recognize that we have something very special here and to take advantage of it.’ Buzz Image Group is located at 312 Sherbrooke Street East, Montreal Quebec, Canada H2X 1E6. For more information, call (514) 848-0579 or (800) 567-0200, or visit www.buzzimage.com.