How Vodafone's CGI thumbs looked like penises

How Vodafone's CGI thumbs looked like penises

The Background

In my previous reviews I said that I love strong images. I think like an art director most of the time –  that was my first proper role when I started my career. 

So this time round, I thought I’d compare three visual ads that each, in their own way, have pushed the boundaries of computer-generated imagery (CGI).

E.ON Energy

Let’s start with E.ON energy’s new ad: ‘Heat from thin air’. 

The advert showcases E.ON’s sustainable air source heat pump technology, and is set in Barcelona with streets filled with water. With the strapline “Heating your home and beyond” it shows countless swimmers taking a dip in lovely, warm water. 

Thanks to CGI, we see the possible city-wide impact of such technologies by imagining entire streets flooded to form open-air heated swimming pools – following the successful heating of Barcelona’s Olympic swimming pool – using nothing but air source heat pump. 

The CGI is executed to a visually stunning effect, and looks very believable. I can imagine myself showing off my breaststroke technique up and down a Spanish main street. The music helps too!

Voxi by Vodafone

Voxi by Vodafone is a mobile service for under 30s, Sim-only, with endless social. 

The ads are usually lively, bright, full of food and memes. The ad I’m watching as part of my CGI trio shows lots of happy ‘thumbs’. Except… ahem… they look nothing like thumbs. 

What I see before my very eyes is lots of happy willies dancing in a field – and that’s before the 9pm watershed. I’m definitely wide awake and there’s no alcohol involved! 

As I watch and giggle helplessly my son looks at me disapprovingly: ‘Mum, there’s definitely something wrong with you’. 

Mmmm...either I’m in the wrong age group or I have a dirty mind, or both! I try in vain to find the ad on YouTube but there are some young people on Twitter commenting on the Vodafone ‘dildos’. So, my dirty mind or my age were not deceiving me after all. 

One superb, hilarious example of CGI gone wrong.

Three and Easyjet

Don’t you love those memes in which a new creature is made splicing two very different animals? Three and partner EasyJet's travel benefits are advertised by a brand-new animal composed of a giraffe and flamingo. A giraffamingo, allegedly. Walking through an airport like a supermodel would strut down a runway.

Three customers can upgrade to EasyJet's Hands Free which speeds up the bag-check process. My absolute favourite bit of the ad is the airport X-ray. I can almost imagine the conversation between the art director and The Mill’s CGI expert, describing the ideal skeletal structure to go for. 

I remember I once had to work out in my head whether penguins had knees and if so, how would a penguin’s knee bend in a lotus position? Those are career-worthy moments for sure, that you still laugh about years afterwards. 

In this ad, the flamingo bum wiggle coupled with a giraffe neck undulation worthy of Strictly Come Dancing result in such a convincing piece of CGI it makes meerkats look obsolete. Next time I get stuck at Gatwick passport controls I’ll ditch my grumpy-gorilla self and channel some supreme giraffamingo flamboyance. 

Who knows? I might even get an upgrade.

The Scores

So I’d give 5 out of 5 to Voxi, not on CGI but for comedy value.  

And 5 out of 5 to the other two for CGI and post-production skills.

I’m feeling generous this week!

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