The commercial opens on a crowded street scene in lower Manhattan in 1870, where a travelling salesman is hawking a marvelous new product to disinterested passersby. With his horse-drawn wagon, emblazed with the brand name ‘Vaseline,’ as a backdrop, inventor Robert Cheesbrough touts the healing powers of his product, which he calls Wonder Jelly. In the background we see a distinctive bridge, the first to span New York’s East River, under construction.
The spot goes on to show the product being used in a variety of settings and time periods, from shivering explorers in Antarctica in the 1880s to ballet dancers performing in the 1920s to a prize fight in the 1940s to the battlefields of Southeast Asia in the 1970s. In each scene, artists from MPC NY added a variety of environmental and background elements, helping drive home the realism of this spot from BBH, New York. The ad was created to promote the addition of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly to all of the brand’s skin lotions. Directed by John Hillcoat of Stink, it won a Gold Clio in 2016 in the Film Technique category for its cinematography.
In the shot that takes place in Antarctica, for example, the actors and the tent were filmed on set, with the severe weather and blowing snow created via a combination of VFX and matte paintings. Various levels of distortion where added throughout the film to further the sense of watching historical or period footage, whether in the scene where the ballet dancer applies Wonder Jelly to her toes or in the boxing ring where the trainer slathers it on his exhausted fighter.
The spot was graded in Los Angeles by Mark Gethin and proved to be a particularly demanding job because of the range of time frames and settings that needed to be matched.
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