Ancestry DNA Animated TV adverts

Ancestry DNA Animated TV adverts

Little Jack

Toast were invited to pitch for the latest Ancestry DNA adverts. The idea behind the campaign was to produce a range of direct and engaging animated TV adverts that focus specifically on what a consumer gets when they purchase the Ancestry DNA kit.

Having used the product ourselves, we knew first hand that the process of using an Ancestry DNA kit couldn’t be simpler. This, combined with the fascinating potential to uncover where your ancestors came from, were to be at the heart of the campaign’s message.

This was an exciting opportunity for us to follow up from last year’s Ancestry DNA advert we produced, ‘Inspired Journey’. Whereas ‘Inspired Journey’ was a live action shoot, the idea this time was to produce a range of animated TV adverts so the two could run in tandem.

animated TV adverts for Ancestry
Animated whale for TV advert
DNA Animation

Animation styles

It was very important to ensure the adverts struck a balance between the explanatory elements of doing the DNA test whilst retaining the charm and character of the Ancestry brand. With all this in mind and the talented animation director/designer Sarah Klan on board, we got to work on bringing the concept to life with 2D animation. First we developed a series of storyboards which showed what style of animation would be used in the final animated TV adverts.

The animation process

Once the style was decided upon we produced an animatic which is a kind of moving storyboard which blocks out the basic movement and actions that will make up the final animated advert. By using this technique it’s possible to get an idea of pacing and whether 30 seconds is enough time to convey all the messages needed in the advert.

Character animation

With the general flow of the advert decided it was now time to bring our character Little Jack to life. A series of short test animation clips were hand drawn and then compiled on computer to produce short moving sequences showing the basic movements our hero would perform. The process of putting together animated TV adverts takes a large amount of time. By building style frames and animation tests early in the workflow it meant everyone was clear how the animation would look once we entered that stage.

Getting the movements of an animated character just right takes great skill and having the right animation team involved in the project is key, picking an animator whose previous work fits well with the current project is a good way to guarantee success, also picking an animator who has worked on animated TV adverts before is important as tailoring actions to fit the limited timescale is a real talent.

Live action vs Animation

The decision to produce a live action TV advert or go down the animated TV advert route often crops up early in the production process. Each route has its own benefits and restrictions, shooting a live action advert using actors comes with the added costs of actors usage fees. Sometimes the creative concept calls for a character to perform difficult moves or stunts which would be better suited to using an animated character.

The price difference between live action and animated TV adverts is difficult to quantify as it’s based on too many variables. Money can be saved by using animation but the budget will soon rise once complex animated scenarios or 3D animation is involved. Animation can take a long time to produce and this needs to be factored into production schedules early in the process.

Animated TV adverts do have a huge advantage over live action; the ability for your brand to own a look, this is difficult with live action but an animation style can be devised exclusively for you. Each time a viewer sees any future work featuring this style the brand recognition is instant.

Animated TV adverts

We were given a 4 week timeline to produce a range of animated TV adverts featuring Little Jack, which we completed with ease, ensuring the production process was as smooth and hassle free as possible. The ad was voiced by Mark Goldthorp and the music from Gentle Fire Studio.

We’re delighted that, as a result, Ancestry has seen phenomenal sales increase with DNA kits selling like hot cakes!


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Screen Shot 2016-10-26 at 11.49.27

Tootle Stop Motion Advert

Stop Motion Advert - Tootle.co.uk

Tootle.co.uk is an online platform helping customers find a buyer for their car from a network of hundreds of competing dealers and car buying services. Normally when you sell a car, you’re the one chasing the buyers. Tootle.co.uk turns that idea on its head. Toast’s stop motion advert underpins this concept in a fun, quirky way.  Set in an everyday living room, toy cars career around the room in a race to bid for the seller’s car.

The stop motion advert was created by a team of animators whose philosophy is simply to make well-crafted stories. The process threw us deep into the world of miniatures; from carefully selecting model cars to 3D printing hundreds of figures, which were then individually hand painted. Rigs were used to achieve car stunts, which were subsequently rotoscoped out in post-production.

The music was composed by Tim Arnold, a London based composer known most recently as the first music artist to release a concept album about Soho, London. This TV campaign is accompanied by a series of radio commercials. Both the radio and TV adverts were brought to life by the brilliant voice of Tony Gardner.

CMO of tootle.co.uk, Cara Whitehouse said: “tootle.co.uk is disrupting a market with deeply ingrained behaviours, and Toast’s creative stop motion animation concept brings the unique benefits of using our platform to life in a clever, engaging and simple way.”

The stop motion animation process

Stop motion animation involves an enormous amount of time and patience, a scene is built, in this case the scenery mainly involved working around pieces of furniture. The cast of characters are assembled and the lighting is worked out before any animation can begin. To make the workflow process smoother and to iron out any kinks in the animation flow a pre-vis animation was produced using 3D animation software, from this test the client could see how the stop motion animation would look once complete. The actual filming process uses a high-end stills camera rigged to take thousands of stills which when played back form the animated advert. Once one picture has been taken animators move onto the set and make micro-adjustments to the location of figures and props to simulate them moving around the scene.

animation pre-viz
3d printed animation figures
stop motion animation

The cast

In many stop motion animations the cast of animated characters are made from a flexible material which can be adjusted slightly between each frame to make them appear to move. For the Tootle advert we employed a more modern technique of 3D printing to build all the characters from a hard plastic, instead of moving body parts the animators just replaced the entire character. Once 3D printed each hard plastic figure had to be hand painted with each character having their own set of clothes painted on. The cast was then taken to the set with the different character poses being swapped in and out as needed.

The location

The main action sequence featured in the advert takes place in a sitting room with the stop motion animated cars racing around the furniture. The joy of the advert is the interaction between the toy cars and the environment, animation is a great medium for using fun to portray brand values or to soften a brand message. The pre-vis stage helped hugely in working out the flow of the animation and allowed for the fun moments to be worked out before having to start recording images.

The magic

Once all the frames of the animation have been recorded the editing process is where the interaction is honed and the pace of the TV advert is set. The stop motion animation process often involves a lot of rigging to keep objects steady or in this case to make the cars magically fly. This rigging must be removed in post production. At this stage sound effects and music were also added, giving the 3D printed characters real voices really brought them to life. The final process was to grade the colours of the final piece to make sure the cars and set looked vibrant making for a fun advert.
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Toy tootle cars flying through the air

Joey Essex – Varooma TV Ad

Joey Essex - Varooma TV Advert

With Joey Essex commanding an impressive 3.59 million followers, it was a no-brainer for log book loan company, Varooma to enlist this celebrity endorsement for their first ever TV campaign.

A confused Joey struggles to get his head round the fact that his “Smart” car can lend him money. The idea was conceived, shot and posted at Toast TV. Television has yielded great results for Varooma and Toast are in talks about a further 3 TV adverts featuring Joey Essex for 2018.

Peter Rickenberg CEO of Varooma commented:

“Dealing with Toast was a pleasure from first creative meeting to completion of the project. Their creative ideas and execution provided us with a quality advert which has had substantial impact on our sales, reputation and visibility.”

Joey Essex near Smart car
Joey Essex says Wallop
Celebrity endorsement by Joey Essex

Getting the right celebrity – Joey Essex

When considering whether to use celebrity endorsement as part of your marketing strategy there is a question to be answered: is celebrity endorsement right for my brand. Can the correct celebrity be found and would they bring something to the marketing mix that’s currently missing? The next step is to think about a good tie-in between your brand and a celebrity, it could be as simple as the same name. Other approaches to fitting a celebrity endorsement into your brand could be the same sensibilities or as we’ve used with Varooma a widely held perception of the celebrity. Having a brainstorming session with people who understand your brand can often throw up some great approaches. Then it’s a matter of finding out who the celebrity’s agent is and approaching them with an initial offer.

Fitting with your brand

Once you have a celebrity onboard you’ll need to deal with all the necessary legals. Making sure your brand is protected against any adverse publicity brought about by the actions of a celebrity is a must. Then it’s making sure you have brilliant creative. Are you getting the most from using a celebrity? The public have become much more media savvy and will see through a straight “I’m a footballer you’ve seen, buy this beer”. Creating a clever strategy to mesh the celebrity into your brand is about realising more than just the sum of all parts. Whether you choose to retain a celebrity endorsement for just print and TV advertising or use the celebrity for a brand ambassador role is a matter of how well that celebrity would perform in a non-scripted environment and your budget.

Working with the script

While developing the script for Joey Essex and the Varooma project the creative team were keen to subvert the usual celebrity endorsement style and have Joey in on the joke. Playing the smart concept against the public perception of Joey works but having Joey in on the joke takes the creative to another level. Another consideration when using a celebrity endorsement is their ability to deliver the lines needed of the creative. You may choose the world’s best snooker player to promote your brand but if they sound like they’ve just woken up your brand message will suffer. When filming for a TV ad the use of prompt boards on set can get around any problems with learning the script. Recording for radio is helped massively by the ability to edit out all the fluffed lines.

Using celebrity endorsement

The decision to use celebrity endorsement is an important one. Picking the wrong celebrity can be disastrous. But conversely used correctly it can turn an unknown brand into a household name and reinforce strong trust links between the celebrity persona and the advertiser.


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Joey Essex Varooma TV Advert

Trice Insurance


Trice Insurance TV Commercial

Trice Insurance app – Launch March 2018

Any script that encourages us to push our own boundaries – as well as doing a tightrope walk along the hairline crack between humour and controversy – is welcome here at Toast. We specialise in getting new brands noticed on TV, the best way to that is with a compelling TV Commercial.

In partnership with Creative agency GingerMonkeys Creative, we enlisted the talents of director Gregg Masuak who brought to life this highly unusual script in his own inimitable way. Trice Insurance is set to launch on Monday 19th March and I’m sure it’ll set tongues (and tails) wagging.

Agency: Gingermonkeys Creative
Director: Gregg Masuak
Producer: Chloe Roberts
DoP: Oliver Curtis
Editor: John Gradwell
Colourist: Dan Moran @ Coffee & TV
Sound: Matt Brace @ Lucky Cat Post

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Trice Insurance TV Advert

KEF Audio Social Videos


KEF Audio - Social Videos

KEF Audio asked Toast to produce a range of social videos showing some of their audio product range, we came up with a beautiful video featuring each product separately and a brand video that shows a band getting ready for a performance. Each video shows a different KEF product with supporting graphics elements highlighting unique features of that product.



Planning your TV media buying

Bahrain Promotional Video Production

Bahrain Economic Development Board

Commissioned by the Bahrain Economic Development Board (BEDB), this promotional video production showcases Bahrain as a thriving country with the happy knack of combining centuries of heritage and trading tradition with a vibrant, welcoming modernity. In short, a great place to site your business as well as a great place to live and raise a family.

Inward Investment Video

The BEDB will use the promotional video to appeal to startup businesses and individuals as well as attracting international companies who are looking to base their businesses in the Gulf region. The video promotes Bahrain as an easy location to situate a corporate HQ with easy links via the causeway to Saudi Arabia and within easy driving distance of the United Arab Emirates. The video will be shown at many investor relations events around the world and will be seen by businesses looking to establish a presence in the Gulf.

Golf game in Bahrain
Promotional Video Production for Bahrain
Bahrain company

Promotional Video Production

The video features people from all walks of Bahrain life. Local business owners, expat business owners and employees, teachers, and professionals from different industries who all live and work in Bahrain. Their stories of choosing Bahrain come to life as they discuss home life, education and the lifestyle available to them. Entertainment and recreation are also an important part of Bahrain culture, the warm climate makes an enjoyable game of golf and access to beaches a year round possibility.

Filming in Bahrain

Toast organised the entire shoot and logistics of filming in Bahrain from London.  Equipment and crew were sourced either directly in Bahrain or from the Emirates. An advanced production crew was dispatched to Bahrain before the filming started to finalise locations and interviews needed for the production. The video production featured multiple locations and cameras with filming taking place in the offices of contributors to the promotional video. Production and filming of the entire video took about 2 months with editing and post production taking place at Toast’s London offices.

C-suite contributors

Many of the interviews featured in the promotional video were conducted with either CEOs or Managing Director level contributors, organising a place and time to shoot these interviews had to fit into their busy schedules.


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Bahrain World trade centre morning light

Charity Advert for END7

END7 - Charity Advert

Charity Campaign

END7 is a charity setup to combat 7 of the world’s neglected diseases. END7 decided to use the power of TV to deliver their shocking charity advert in the hope of persuading a large audience to contribute to their campaign. They raise funds to help build treatment programs to help some of the world’s poorest communities deal with these sometimes disfiguring conditions.

Neglected diseases

Many of the diseases covered by END7 are not widely known so putting them in front of the general public is part of END7’s remit. END7 uses funds raised to help protect people from the tropical diseases, they estimate that it costs about 50 pence to protect a person against disease for one year.

A hard-hitting charity advert

Advertising Agency Wunderman London came to Toast to help create this hard-hitting charity advert for END7. The advert titled ‘How to Shock a Celebrity’ shows the emotional reactions of celebrities including Emily Blunt (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Marilyn), Tom Felton (Harry Potter), Tom Hollander (Pride and Prejudice), Priyanka Chopra and Yvonne Chaka Chaka to extremely shocking footage showing the results of these diseases. The charity advert was filmed by Wunderman and edited at Toast.


The charity aims to raise awareness amongst the public about the diseases, the charity has the backing of large charity organisations including the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. END7 hopes to eradicate the diseases by 2020.

Can you watch it through to the end?

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Emily Blunt looks shocked

Innocent Smoothie Advert

Innocent Smoothie advert

The ultimate challenger brand

Simple, creative and beautifully made… just like their drinks… this 30sec Innocent Smoothie advert was Innocent’s first foray into the world of television advertising. Innocent is the classic challenger brand, they came from nowhere with their quirky brand and fresh take on marketing. They soon realised that to break into the mainstream they needed to get the Innocent brand noticed by a mass market audience. TV provides a great platform to get a new brand noticed by a large audience and helps to build trust – which is much needed by a relative unknown. They needed their own Innocent Smoothie advert to help their brand quickly build sales and a loyal following.

The first of many Innocent Smoothie Adverts

Toast prides itself on working with new brands to smooth their transition into the world of TV advertising. We worked with Innocent Smoothies to translate their brand identity into a unique TV advert that would quickly convey a standout message. TV advertising can be a daunting prospect for new companies, we helped them navigate the process. Toast provides a script to screen service to make sure the entire project stays on track.

Producing a TV advert

Toast handled the entire production process from creative, building the right team to undertake the stop-frame animation shoot, through to editing and post production and finally making sure the advert was cleared to be shown by broadcasters. The advert was filmed on location in Gunnersbury Park in London, the setup was arranged with the hero carton taking centre stage. The fruit was added frame by frame to build the animation. The whole advert was shot on film which gives it a great handmade quality. Finally the chicken was persuaded to walk through frame to finish off the advert.

The resulting Innocent Smoothie advert was an instant and memorable hit, Innocents sales took off and they have built on the look to take their brand worldwide with nearly every Innocent Advert using a similar look to portray the brand message.

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innocent advert with smoothie carton with fruit in park

Cancer Research TV Advert

Cancer Research Advert

Atomic London came to Toast to produce a direct response ad for Cancer Research UK.

The Cancer Research advert message is that by simply using your signature to include a gift in your Will to Cancer Research UK could lead to life-saving research and pioneering breakthroughs.

The ad consists of a series of vignettes that depict the results for cancer patients of simply giving your signature. This idea of how powerful your signature can be is very much at the heart of the film with model signatures tying each scene together.

Shot by Matt McConaghy on the Alexa Amira, lit by Simon Hawken & posted by Toast & Hoxton Red Sox.
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Lab technician hold glass beaker in lab

Morgan Stanley Product Video


Morgan Stanley Video

Morgan Stanley Video commissioned Toast to produce a video for one of the company’s new investment strategy tools, ModelWare. The finished video was shot entirely on HD and features strong visuals, moving graphics and animated text created by our in-house design team throughout. Morgan Stanley wanted the video to use across web exhibitions & credentials. The video was shot on location in Canary Wharf and in the Morgan Stanley office.


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Stock ticker symbols around canary wharf buildings