Pringles Makes Beastly Music With a Keyboard-Playing Hamster

Silly beats (and howls) from Grey London

It's probably just a matter of time before Pringles' synth-stroking hamster gets a Spotify album all his own. Or not. 

Little critter steals the show in Grey London's spot for the brand's new multigrain chips, caressing the keys and howling up a storm.

Pringles Wonderfully Different

That rodent sounds ill. Is there a veterinarian in the house?!

"Wonderfully Different" is the tagline. That performance was different, all right. As for wonderful—not so much. (The Yoko influence comes through. Like a nail in your head.)

"Our brains love things that are moderately incongruent—new news coupled with the comfort of familiarity," explains agency ECD David Wigglesworth. "This is what this campaign brings to the table, something unusual and something we know and love."

"This fun and surprising campaign is sure to spark curiosity and trial" of the new range, adds Elena Mancini, EU marketing manager at Kellogg's, which owns Pringles.

The work's inspired, atonal stupidity merits a round of applause. Though our ears can live without an encore. 

It will run on TV, VOD and OLV in the U.K. through mid-March.

Below, Wigglesworth explains how it all came together:

MUSE: What was the original brief?

David Wigglesworth: Everyone knows and loves original Pringles, so we wanted to use that as a springboard as to why you should try the new Multigrain. We didn't need to over-claim; we just needed to spark intrigue. That's where we landed on the idea of "Same, yet wonderfully different." To bring that to life, we wanted to find something instantly relatable to the "same" and give it a wonderfully different twist. In this case, it was the pet hamster that lives in the corner of every house across the country. Only this guy has soul and a keyboard.

The ad's fairly restrained. Were you concerned it might turn out OTT barmy?

If the performance goes too big, it could be in danger of feeling like a circus animal performing for an audience. We wanted viewers to feel like this is his passion, his tiny life! This is where the music became critical. If it was an upbeat dance track, it could feel gimmicky. So something emotional and surprisingly beautiful felt like the only answer for us to ground the visual. 

I like how his show builds momentum.

At first glance, it looks like a hamster cage with a wheel, bowl and chipping. And the production guys worked wonders so that the cage could transform into a stage in camera. It was a nightmare to shoot, but it was worth it. On shoot, you have a hydraulic stage rise, motorized curtains opening, spinning wheel lighting up, LED screen—and spotlights coming on with the puppeteer's performance. It doesn't make for easy capture, but aiming to get all of these things happening on camera makes it feel real.

Can you talk about bringing the creature to life?

We didn't want a real hamster, as it wouldn't have the crafty magic of a puppet. We also knew we didn't want full CG, as it could feel cold and fake. We wanted our little dude to touch people's souls. Biscuit Filmworks really went to town building our puppet hamster. They sourced the perfect reference hamsters and matched their fur and proportions perfectly. He had a working mouth and moving arms controlled on set.

It's pretty realistic. IF a keyboard-playing hamsters actually existed, that is.

He needed to tread the line between real and fantastical. So Untold Studios did amazing work adding little realistic touches: ear flicks and all. Although his performance is brief, all the tiny details sell that moment. Even down to the keyboard, with fully working hamster-sized keys and dials. It was madness and a lot of fun!

(UPDATE 3/14: No action at Spotify, but he's on Bandcamp. We want our vinyl copy to arrive gnawed!)

These posters teased the campaign—click to enlarge:

CREDITS

Client: Pringles
Creative Agency: Grey London
Global Chief Creative Officer: Javier Campopiano
President & Chief Creative Officer: Laura Jordan Bambach
Executive Creative Director: David Wigglesworth 
Global Group Creative Directors: Christopher Lapham & Aaron McGurk
Creatives: Christopher Lapham, Aaron McGurk & Cameron Sutherland
Design: Christopher Lapham & Aaron McGurk
Agency Planning Partner: Lee Barber
Agency Strategy Director: Gilliam Caldwell-Dunn  
Managing Partner: Agi Varanyi
Group Business Director: Tamsine Foggin
Account Director: Alice Ashwell 
Agency Executive Producer: Nazneen Read
Agency Senior Producer: Anthony Borkett
Assistant Producer: Angel Nkomo
Agency Project Manager: Elly Knott

Media Agency: Carat
Planning Partner: Greg Paterson
Market Planning Director: Chantelle Townsend
Account Director: Becky Linares
Planner: Oli Rose

Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Executive Producer: Rupert Reynolds-MacLean
Producer: Kwok Yau
Director: Jeff Low
D.O.P: Matthew Emvin Taylor 
Production Design: Ollie Hogan 
Edit House: Shift Post London
Editor: Saam Hodivala
Edit Post Producer: Kirsty Oldfield
Edit Assistant: Adam Buckmaster

VFX Studio: Untold Studios
VFX CD: Ben Cronin
VFX Supervisor: Rebecca Clay
Lead Artist: Tom Moreland 
VFX Artists: Rich Harris
VFX Producer: George Reid
VFX Executive Producer: Ian Berry
Colour: Untold Studios
Colourist: Julien Alary
VFX Executive Producer: Ian Berry

Music Composition: Jeff Low

Sound Studio: Gramercy Park Studios
Sound Engineer/Head of Audio: Zak Kurtha
Executive Producer (Sound): Richard Donaghue

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