Interview by Marianne Hanoun

How animation studio Art&Graft brought a transformative flock of National Lottery tickets to life

Regardless of how lucky your numbers may be, the sale of every lottery ticket in the UK goes towards funding some amazing projects all over the country. Building on the success of their inspiring Road to Rio Olympics campaign, The National Lottery and AMV BBDO re-commissioned production studio Art&Graft to bring the transformative effect of that iconic pink ticket to life in animated TV spot Thank You. This time their cinematic, illustrative world was host to even more inhabitants, with the team adding hundreds of new characters, celebrating a diverse and dynamic UK and all the Lottery-funded projects across it. We follow creative director Mike Moloney as he guides us through the studio’s very own creative journey of making this ambitious project.

Project Background

We had previously worked with both The National Lottery and AMV BBDO on a campaign, ‘Road To Rio’, to showcase The National Lottery’s support of Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August. The campaign was a success, so they commissioned us to create ‘Thank You’ as a follow-up. We had pitched on the initial ‘Road To Rio’ campaign (through ITV Creative), but because ‘Thank You’ was a follow-up to this, we were not required to pitch.

The agency came to us with a script that focused on a transformative flock of tickets as they journey throughout the day to each corner of the UK. Just how we would bring this ambitious script to life left was open for us to interpret. Every National Lottery ticket and Scratchcard sold across the nation helps contribute to the over £80 million per year for Team GB. The film follows the tickets as they journey to each corner of the UK – from the shores of Loch Lomond to the Angel of the North and Giants Causeway, magically transforming the equipment and kit of the heroic training athletes it encounters. ‘Thank You’ spotlights just a handful of over 500,000 of their projects including land regeneration, historic monument conservation, community music projects and the Mobile Screen Machine that travels across the Highlands bringing cinema to rural communities.

I Am Team GB: Making Of

Research Insights

With a script already in place, we looked to develop a visual style that could support, compliment and ultimately bring the ideas on the page to life. This initial stage usually involves the whole Art&Graft creative team, discussing various possible approaches and sourcing a wide selection of visual references from which to draw inspiration. From these sessions we created a series of concept boards that encapsulated and distilled our thinking into a few style frames to give the client a really strong idea of how the finished film would look.

We rigorously storyboarded various narrative solutions throughout the process to define a flow and pace that best compliments the visual language. We were confident that we had hit upon a strong visual direction to bring the script to life and therefore decided to present just one creative route during the initial pitch process.

“We wanted our characters to represent the approachable everyday man and woman, people of every age and colour, shape and size from all around the country.”

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Some of the cast of ‘Thank You’

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Athletes from ‘Road to Rio’

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Cyclists from ‘Road to Rio’

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Runner character development work for ‘Thank You’

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Runner character development work for ‘Thank You’

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Runner character development work for ‘Thank You’

Determined to build upon the visual language developed in the previous film, we continued to push the level of character animation on both a technical and creative level. The number of characters increased four fold including an ambitious final crowd scene of over one hundred people. The higher level of detail in modelling and texture also afforded us the opportunity to add even more personality and charm throughout the tickets’ journey.

We wanted to create the epic scenes synonymous with an Olympics launch, and introduce a warmth and charm to the central characters that is sometimes missing when representing our heroic athletic superstars. Likewise, we wanted our characters to represent the approachable everyday man and woman, people of every age and colour, shape and size from all around the country. Taking influence from the paintings of Norman Wilkinson and his beautiful representations of British landscapes, we sought to incorporate stunning lighting and a warm colour palette to create wide, cinematic visions of the environments through which we travel.

Market breakdown for ‘Thank You’ by Art&Graft (National Lottery/AMV BBDO)
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Final style frames for ‘Thank You’

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Final style frames for ‘Thank You’

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Final style frames for ‘Thank You’

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Final style frames for ‘Thank You’

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Final style frames for ‘Thank You’

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Final style frames for ‘Thank You’

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Final style frames for ‘Thank You’

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Final style frames for ‘Thank You’

Development and Production

The creative lead and visual development is handled by the full-time team at Art&Graft. Once this is locked down and we get into the animation production stage we then bring in specialist freelancers to support our team on specific areas of the process. We work very closely as a studio team at Art&Graft and everyone working on the project has an important creative role to play throughout the process. I acted as creative director with Clement Bolla, our head of animation, leading the in-house team through animation process, working closely with creative Stephen Middleton. On the production side, Tom Bromwich handled the client relationship.

“There were no huge curve balls – more problems that we found solutions for together, rather than being told outright to do something specific.”

Fortunately both the client and agency were aware of the tight deadlines we were working to and were always reasonable with requests and expectations. It was also a great help that we were working with one of the most senior creatives at the agency, so his opinion held a lot of sway with the client and certainly aided the smooth running of the process.

Throughout the project we presented to the client once a week and also had a studio review with the agency every Wednesday to present to whatever was readily available. The changes requested were mostly very minor; there were no huge curve balls – more problems that we found solutions for together rather than being told outright to do something specific.

Early storyboard for ‘Thank You’

Delivery

Alongside the TV spot, we also designed the key artwork for use across The National Lottery’s OOH (Out Of Home) and POS (Point Of Sale) campaign. The illustrative visual language and character design we’d developed and defined for the TVC [television commercial] was continued across all print coverage and multiple digital platforms to create a consistent and recognisable campaign.

While ‘Thank You’ built on our previous work for ‘Road To Rio’, the team worked hard to create a much more ambitious film this time around, increasing the technical aspect to include much larger crowd shots and a closer emphasis on texture rendering. ‘Thank You’ led to an marked uplift in sentiment, with 68% of National Lottery players saying they felt more positive about the brand after seeing our TVC.

It’s great to see agencies recognising the benefit in developing a core visual language that has the flexibility to roll out across multiple platforms, whilst still retaining a strong visual identity. It’s a campaign the Art&Graft team are very proud of and we’re looking forward to building on this again in the near future.

‘Thank You’ Final TV spot by Art&Graft

Interview by Marianne Hanoun
Mention Mike Moloney
Mention Art&Graft
Mention AMV BBDO
Mention The National Lottery
Mention Camelot Group
Mention Norman Wilkinson