Suki Waterhouse and Argos Take the Piss Out of Lifestyle Advertising

She's holding a duck

Actress Suki Waterhouse opens the latest ad for Argos Home with the following propos: "I'm an enigma, a mystery."

In case you need a visual synonym, she is also wearing a functioning lamp on her head.

Argos Home | So Stylish Suki Can Wear It

Created by The&Partnership London, the ad is titled "So Stylish Suki Can Wear It." It's the final installment in Argos' "So Stylish You Can Wear It" campaign, which lasted a year and also began with a woman wearing a lamp on her head, so we've come full circle.

"I've never considered nor been asked to model a carpet as couture, nor an armchair as an accessory," says Waterhouse. "The result is a campaign I doubt viewers will forget in a hurry."

The campaign overall punts homeware as haute couture in a way that doesn't take itself seriously, even as it treats us to surreal production moments—catwalking couches and carpets across lawns and through woods, not to mention the sitting rooms of strangers. "Suki" marks the third ad in the set. 

"I loved that this script was full of amazing imagery, and that the voiceover acted as a comic counterpoint," says David Kerr of Hungry Man, who directed the Suki installment. "I wanted the film to play with the po-faced profundity we sometimes see in perfume commercials, and for the absurdity to build in a gradual, incremental way."

This is a cool mix of relaxed, almost slapstick punchlines and serious expenditure, two things rarely combined. (There's a reason we wonder whether unattractive mates are funny.) That ornate background isn't a set; it's Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing, London. All footage was shot on a Sony Venice—chosen for its lush color-rendering—and a Panavision large-format lens. 

When people spend serious, they like to feel serious. Usually that yields something boring and self-important. But Argos and Waterhouse know their roles.

"Look outside to see inside," the voiceover murmurs before cutting to a grayscale shot of Waterhouse through a dew-dropped window. "Oh look, it's raining," she says, sardonic for a microsecond.

"[Suki's] a great comic actress," Kerr observes. "She worked tirelessly with me to nail the nuanced tone we were trying to hit—and she understands the power of a raised eyebrow as well as anyone since Roger Moore."

That talent is even more obvious in the behind-the-scenes video, which we also loved.

Also, why is there a flamingo?

The costumes were made from Argos furniture and homewares products under the skilled hands of Verity Hawkes, who also did the job for the brand's previous spots. 

"Designing for just one person was definitely easier and allowed me to be more focused," Hawkes says. "Some of the bigger dresses were a challenge—the pattern cutting was a big job, especially as they had used such a huge amount of fabric. The location definitely added to the designs, evoking a very romantic feel; the carpet and duvet covers echoed the design of the house."

Check out this wee wicked gallery of Hawkes' dress designs:

The result of all this care is that you can appreciate both its beauty and frivolity (a feeling that's easy to scale up—to luxury, to personal branding, to life). This removes so much pressure: Smirk at hats made of nightstands ("Your mind is a drawer; open it!") while relishing in that gorgeous moment when feathers float around a duvet-dress… the ultimate luxury Snuggie.

And while the ad is of standard :30 length, it feels detailed and well-paced enough for us to appreciate some references, high- and low-brow, intentional or not. "I'm holding a duck" brings "I'm on a horse!" to mind. (Also, we're totally convinced that's the Aflac duck.)

Plus, Waterhouse's ludicrous carpet-roll to complete the packshot recalls the legend of Cleopatra rolling herself into a carpet to negotiate with Caesar. This is usually told to illustrate Cleo's creative and seductive chops, but here you're also reminded of its logistic weirdness. How do you keep it sexy and real with your face against braided wool? We suffocate just thinking about it.

The work went live on Sunday in the U.K. during Channel 4's diffusion of Homeland. It's supported by out-of-home, print and an Instagram filter.

Below, check out the previous two spots. Apparently, per Savanta in 2019, the campaign has driven 7 in 10 people to agree that Argos sells more stylish homewares and furniture, and 8 in 10 people to agree it sells higher quality products than they previously believed. Guess it's working.

CREDITS

ECD – Yan Elliott
Creative - Carl Storey
Creative – Alice Burton
Planning Partner – Rebecca Munds
Senior Planner – Matt Shaw
Managing Director – Gary Simmons
Senior Account Director – Lucy Almond
Senior Account Manager – Hannah Gray
Head of Integrated Production – Charles Crisp
TV Producer – Alfie Glover Short
Head of Art – Emma Modler
Print Producer – Angus Lees
Head of Art – Marc Donaldson
Designer – Ailie Hutcheson
Retoucher – Richard Palmer
Production Company: Hungry Man Productions
Director: David Kerr
Executive Producer: Matt Buels
Production Company Producer: Stephen Johnson
Director of Photography: Simon Chaudoir
Costume Designer: Verity Hawkes
Production Designer: Laura Ellis Cricks
Editor: Adam Spivey @ Assembly Rooms
Audio Post Production: Grand Central Recording Studios
Sound Engineer: Munzie Thind
VFX Post Production: MPC
Post Producer: Phil Whalley
VFX Supervisor: Tom Harding
Colourist: Jean-Clément Soret
Music Supervision: Finger Music
Composer(s): Samuel Richard Burden / Christopher Phelps

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is a founding contributor to Muse. She is also the co-founder of esports agency Hurrah.gg, and co-author of Generation Creation.

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