‘Be Free to do whatever you want.’ This became the tagline that has defined Ian’s most successful advertising campaign to date. The Freeserve spots played on television and in cinemas nationwide and ran for some two years between 2002 and 2004.
It was a campaign that only ended when Wanadoo bought the company and started to impose its own French style of branding, otherwise, Ian reckons he might be still making them today!
“My approach to each of the commercials was to express a style that suggested archive footage taken of naturists, hippies and modern artists in their natural habitats, and all were filmed as if spontaneously caught by the camera lens. In effect, the scenarios appeared as real and as honest as anything a BBC documentary or a home movie camera from the sixties might have captured.
Essentially, I wanted to create images that were, on the one hand, documentary in their observation, and on the other absurd in their framing and their staging. They also had to be striking and above all, funny. From a nude sunbather lying face down in a car park, to an ageing hippy staring up at the trees with a strange look of wonder and bemusement, Yves Klein ordering his dog to paint a canvas, or a nudist skier in a bathtub showing his gap-toothed smile to camera. These were all characters expressing their freedom in the most liberating way possible and I think that’s why the commercials stood out.
They showed a devil-may-care attitude that was refreshingly different from some of the slick, strongly-lit internet television spots of the day, which looked contrived and insincere by comparison. Technically, the Freeserve commercials were difficult to shoot because of the integrity I wanted to achieve in terms of the observational look of the films and also the great number of extras that needed directing.
But the spots were always incredibly fun to make. The client was originally very wary of my radical approach but, after the success of the first spot, they exhibited enormous confidence in allowing me my own freedom to make the films as dynamic and absurd as I liked—to the extent that they exhibited several of the spots in the cinema. The films usually took two long days to film plus another day beforehand to test the camera for the various period and film format effects required. Shooting took me to sunny Dorset, boggy Glastonbury and the freezing Austrian Alps. That I think, illustrates just how diverse these commercials were”.Ian Sciacaluga