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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