Gum Brand Sticks It to Our Faux-Fantastic, Plastic Age

Director Talya Galasko's absurdist vision

"A huge production budget, big tricks, big cameras, lots of lights, multiple locations." Director Talya Galasko says she had access to none of these things when making "V Day," the latest spot for natural chewing gum brand Milliways.

And that was fine with Galasko, who relied instead on a strong narrative that humorously drives home the point that no one should chew gum that has plastic in it. (While much of the gum we chomp contains such material, Milliways is plastic-free.)

"No matter what the budget, no matter what the scope of the job is, narrative is the root of everything," the Cape Town-based director says.

The Milliways ad, shared via TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn, follows a young man, Milton (played by Kiroshan Naidoo), as he spends a day in his plastic-filled home getting ready for a date. This guy wakes up to the ring of a plastic alarm clock, wears plastic clothes, makes plastic meals and constantly chews plastic gum to freshen his breath.

So who is Milton's date? A plastic mannequin whose head falls off as he greets her at his front door.

"Some things shouldn't be made from plastic. Like your chewing gum." That's the message shared at the end.

Galasko credits Milliways creative director and copywriter Rosie Goddard with thinking up the commercial's concept, which the director ran with, creating a spot designed to show "how ridiculous it is to actually still be eating gum that contains plastic."

"V Day" was shot at a house in Cape Town, where Galasko and her crew made extensive use of the space, capturing scenes in the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen/dining area. The home's exterior came into play when Milton met his date.

Art director Claire Gritten sourced the plastic paraphernalia that dominate Milton's environment. "We had to find an environmentally-friendly way of doing everything," Galasko points out, noting that Gritten found many items at a local prop house that could be returned and re-used after the shoot.

Gritten provided Galasko with dozens of colorful props, including the big pig that sits on a nightstand, heaps of faux food and plastic bedding that crunches and squeaks when he starts his day. "We wanted people to squirm a little bit when they hear that sound and see he's sleeping on plastic," Galasko says. "Like you wouldn't sleep on plastic sheets, and you wouldn't put plastic in your mouth, but you are actually doing that when you chew gum with plastic in it."

Fashion bolsters the plastic aesthetic, and, not surprisingly, both Milton and Veronica (that's what Galasko and her crew named the mannequin) sport synthetics. While wardrobe stylist Ané Strydom dressed Milton in a bold pink polyester shirt to meet his date, a shiny beret and purple trench coat are the highlights of Veronica's ensemble.

"We had a wardrobe fitting with an inanimate object where the client came in," Galasko recalls, musing over how bizarre that sounds. "And we put different trench coats on her and different hats and wigs and earrings."

Her crew only had eight hours to shoot "V Day." So, unfortunately, they had to lose one scene that the director was looking forward to creating. "There was a scene where Milton is bathing in a bubble bath that is literally bubbles made of bubble wrap," the director says. "But sometimes you can't get through everything."


Client: Milliways
Creative Director/Copywriter: Rosie Goddard

Production Co.: Mercy
Director: Talya Galasko
DP: Zenn van Zyl
Producer/Assistant Director: Karen Kloppers
Production Manager: Bianca Van der Merwe
Set PA: Kyle Brandt
Focus Puller: Joshua-Dean Marais
VT/Data Wrangler: Gareth Weiser
Gaffer: Warrick Le Sueur
Spark: Onela Mkhosi
Sound: Joshua Yon
Composition: Thor Rixon
Art director: Claire Gritten
Props Master: Tallulah Juta
Art Assistant: Cheyenne Jones
Art Driver: James Mudzigwa
Wardrobe: Ané Strydom
Key Makeup and Hair: Nomfundo Sontundu
Unit: Bulelani Gweyi
Unit Assistant: Doc Gaqana

Post Production: Post CT
Audio Engineer: Vuyo Rhoda 

Behind the Scenes is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about Creators, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

Christine Champagne
Muse contributor Christine Champagne is a writer based in NYC.

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