Why Deloitte Built a Crazy House, Full of Illusions, for Its New Spot

Heat and 1stAveMachine's feast for the eyes

A few years back, optical illusion videos were all the rage, with efforts from Honda and Ray-Ban, among others, winning acclaim and delighting/confounding viewers worldwide. 

Of late, this particular approach has largely vanished, but Deloitte stylishly revives the genre in the eye-catching spot below. 

Created by Deloitte-owned agency Heat with production house 1stAveMachine and three directors—Bob Partington, Erika Zorzi and Matteo Sangalli (the latter two known collectively as Mathery)—the half-minute film illustrates how the business consulting giant can marshal vibrant new perspectives to solve client problems. 

So, we've got people defying gravity and hanging out in a surreal mirrored room as their cube-space shifts in impossible ways when least expected. 

Sounds like a typical day at the office, right?

This making-of clip provides entertaining viewpoints about the ad's creation:

"While concepting the work, we wanted to create a meaningful point of differentiation for Deloitte in the often dry professional services category, and to deliver the message in a way that was compelling for the viewer," Deloitte U.S. brand leader John Keller tells Muse. "Our film displays Deloitte's ability to bring the most informed and unique perspectives to any business challenge, helping clients awaken their full potential. Where others see daunting complexity, Deloitte sees endless possibility." 

The visuals were achieved using practical effects, with no VFX beyond wire removal and minor cleanup in post. 

"There is a rich history of perspective tricks dating back to renaissance art," says Partington. "We borrowed some concepts and invented some brand new ones. We opted for three directors mainly because we wanted to showcase three unique perspectives." 

All told, about 100 people—cast, crew, craft professionals and support personnel—contributed to the spot's creation. The colorful, many-chambered, multilevel set was constructed on a huge soundstage over two weeks and stood nearly 40 feet tall. 

"There was a significant safety issue because of height, so we had everyone on wires," Partington recalls. "The shape of the installation was very much defined by the illusions." 

"It was actually a pretty smooth process," he adds. "Probably the biggest takeaway is something that happens a lot on these kind of illusion sets: Right up until the camera is rolling, so many of the crew don't really get what is supposed to be happening, actors too, then they see playback through the monitor and everyone gets psyched."

As for that narrator casually sitting at an impossible angle on the wall? 

"We had a little color work to do in post because her blood was rushing to her head," Partington says. "We chose this as an opening because it was the first thing the viewer saw. We begin with a disorienting scene and it takes the viewer a minute to catch up. This was also fresh because it combined a gravity trick with a scale trick—a one-two punch."


Client: Deloitte
Campaign: Only See Possible

Agency: Heat NY
General Manager: Leyland Streiff
Head of Strategy: Maggie Gross
Senior Strategist: Sam Glassoff
Group Creative Director: Tracey Smith
Senior Art Director: Dan Smith
Senior Copywriter: Josh Aiello
Senior Copywriter: Mike Raymond (BTS)
Executive Producer: Geoff Guinta
Business Director: Lauren Munilla
Business Supervisor: Marcella Astini
Business Executive: Atheina Hasbani
Head of Business Affairs: Ramin Mirshah
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Darren Majewski

Production Company: 1st Ave Machine
Service Production Company: Icon Films
Studio: Buftea Studios
Directors: Bob Partington, Mathery (Erika Zorzi + Matteo Sangalli)
DoP: Matthew J Smith
Production Designer: Will Field
Partner/Executive Producer: Sam Penfield
Executive Producer: Peter Repplier
Executive Producer: Michaela McKee
Executive Producer: Lisanne McDonald
Line Producer: Mike Capon
Post Producer: Hilary Downes
Editor: Rhys Stover
Color: RCO
Colorist: Seth Ricart
Music Company: duotone audio group
Managing Director: David Leinheardt
Executive Producer: Ross Hopman
Producer: Gio Lobato
Audio Post Production: duotone audio post
Sound Designer/Mixer: Juan Aboites
Executive Producer, Audio Post: Greg Tiefenbrun

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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