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Ad Stars: Draftfcb (Pataday)


agency: Draftfcb
brand: Pataday
client: Alcon
photo from left: Ida Lew, VP, senior producer • Ray Behar, creative director • Tom McLoughlin, VP, senior writer

At its best, advertising is great art. And to get there, marketers often find it helpful to borrow from the masters.

That's exactly what Draftfcb did with its beautiful commercial spot for Alcon's Pataday, in which a Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait seemingly comes to life when faced with a case of allergies and itchy red eyes. "The idea was to elevate the eyes, to show that the eyes can be a work of art," said Draftfcb's Tom McLoughlin. Ray Behar, creative director, says the team chose Van Gogh because he revolutionized painting, which symbolized how Pataday's new formula had the potential to revolutionize treatment.

Draftfcb has a long history of creative excellence for such clients as Kraft, Lilly, Merck, Hilton, and Verizon. But the Pataday commercial was a truly artistic endeavor, requiring careful orchestration to bring art to life.

No detail was overlooked. Famed avant-garde composer Phillip Glass scored the commercial, which was directed by Miles Goodall and shot at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town. The actor was cast because of his resemblance to Vincent Van Gogh, and then turned over to a makeup wizard who spent five hours painting the 1887 painting onto the actor's face, hair, and coat. (The actor liked it so much, he wore the makeup home from the set.)

There was one major snag in the proceedings, however. At one point, the newly turned Van Gogh eyes the source of his discomfort—a sitting cat, winking smugly. In reality, the first cat escaped from the set during shooting. A less camera-shy replacement kitty was swiftly found. "I don't recommend working with South African cats again," McLoughlin chuckled. Added Draftfcb's Ida Lew, "We recommend that you use Hollywood cats."


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