China’s Boxing Cat Brewery has launched its new Amber Lager campaign, centered around a berserk theme-song-cum-opening-credits animated film about a superhero cat boxer who sets out to “Defeat Ordinary” in cities across the country, one haymaker at a time. Titled “First Blood” after the lager, the energetic spot follows boxing cat hero Louie as he knocks some sense into apathetic civilians and smashes boring beers.
Created by Final Frontier, Le Cube and R/GA Shanghai, “First Blood” rolled out nationwide last week, appearing on Boxing Cat’s official WeChat and marked by live superhero-themed launch parties in Shanghai and Beijing.
“We didn’t plan for Louie to be a superhero at first,” said Terence Leong, Exec Creative Director at R/GA Shanghai. “We were in love with Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr, Fox and we originally wanted Louie to be a charismatic and suave stop-motion puppet with a persona like Muhammad Ali. But we couldn’t find the right voice for his trash talk. Then Shing played the Spider-Man theme song, and boom! Everything clicked — he’s a superhero who fights boring beers.”
R/GA Creative Director Shing Sian Chew explained: “Our first reference was the Spider-Man theme song from way back. It was catchy and a tool that told a friendly neighborhood superhero’s story, but in the context of what we wanted to do, it felt too safe. Louie isn’t that kind of superhero — he’s a rebel. We needed the music to reflect that — and hopefully be catchy enough for the public to latch on to it.”
While the creative team honed the superhero theme/punk rock anthem angle, they were also whittling down all their story ideas to a 60-second power punch, and adapting the design for Louie from their original 3D plan to a 2D look.
“In developing Louie’s character, it was a fine line to have him embody all the wit, coolness and self-assured confidence of Muhammad Ali, and retain the essential humor, but without creating any sense of menace that could so easily have come across,” Le Cube director Ralph Karam elaborated. “To create a retro comic-book feel, we decided to use a halftone effect throughout the film … As for designing the sets and supporting cast, the agency shared plenty of reference, plus, coincidentally, we were about to get on a plane to Shanghai, so we would have plenty of inspiration from real life.”
Some of these real world encounters went into the creatives’ favorite scenes from the film. “The drippy guys at the bar that are transformed into the punk band is a personal favorite. Those characters are all based on real people we’ve encountered in real life,” Karam notes.
“Look closely and you’ll see the guy is watching two girls singing the ‘Meow Meow’ song – a sadly viral sensation. I think he’s the one who most deserves to receive Louie’s rough justice,” added Chis Colman, Executive Producer for Final Frontier.
Chew notes that it was important to spotlight the core ingredient of the “First Blood” brew, Chinese red dates: “We wanted to include it in the film in a way that was authentic to the spirit of the character. We came up with the idea of Louie throwing red dates almost as ninja shurikens, and that’s my favorite scene.”
Now that the spot has launched, the team hopes that viewers get as much of a kick (or a right hook) out of “First Blood” as they had coming up with crazy ideas for Louie’s quest to knock mundanity out of the ring.
“Projects like this are the reason we got in to animation. I’ve never seen a beer commercial, or indeed any commercial, like this. That’s why we love working with Terence and his all-star team. Besides their creativity, they get the potential of animation, and they respect the craft and the process,” said Colman. “Hopefully it’ll inspire more clients to step outside their comfort zone and try something nuts.”