Cartoons: cheerful, not cheap


Is the world falling out of love with animation? Childhood classics Dumbo, The Lion King and Aladdin will all be released as live-action movies in 2019. This comes hot off the sparkly heels of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.

On International Animation Day, we’re asking: are we falling out of love with cartoons?

Cheerful not cheap

Some companies we come across think that animation is the ugly step-sister to live action. They see cartoons as a low-budget option. A cheap and cheerful way to communicate a message.

But we know from experience that a good animation simply isn’t cheap to make.

Remember the John Lewis Christmas advert that took living rooms by storm in 2013? The nation fell in love with The Bear and the Hare’s cosy tale of furry friendship. The merchandise sold out in 10 days. Not bad for a couple of quick and colourful sketches, right?

Except the two-minute animation was painstakingly crafted over six months. It cost £1 million to make and £7 million to promote. The amount of work that went into every second of that film was staggering. Just watch this behind-the-scenes footage of how they did it.

“It takes a lot of effort to do a really nice animation,” says Jason Purvis, AB’s head of film.

“But when you have a team who can commit to putting the effort in, the results are always worth it.”

B2B: it’s the eyebrows

It’s not only B2C companies that can benefit from using animation. AB used the technique for a B2B client to promote HR software.

“Character-based animation can bring a product like that to life,” says Jason.

“If the client had wanted to do a live-action film, what would we have shown? Footage of actors typing in an office? That wouldn’t be engaging. It wouldn’t tell a story.

“Animator Simon Tibbs used tiny details to make this entertaining. The script is quite straightforward but watch the way the characters’ eyebrows move – in every scene he’s paid so much attention to detail.”

“If you get all the elements right, animation is brilliant,” says Jason. “But you need the right script, music, colours, details – everything has to come together.

“The end result looks so simple – no one can tell how much effort goes into it.”

Is animation right for you?

If you’d like to chat about promoting your brand with film, we’d love to hear from you. Contact [email protected]


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Ros is an editor and copywriter with experience in both print and digital. Her experience includes tone of voice development; interpretation for cultural sites and venues; content marketing, design and strategy; and managing an award-winning content team at a major UK charity. Ros enjoys writing about topics and industries in ways that people can relate to. She has written copy to inspire people about blanket bogs, garden birds, orchestras and refugees, among other topics!


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