Peter Lydon & Fold7 On Recreating The Danish Way With Mads Mikkelsen
Director and agency discuss extending their Carlsberg campaign and give us a glimpse behind the scenes of the Mads Mikkelsen-starring work. Merman director Peter Lydon recently helmed a series of spots for Carlsberg through London agency Fold7 which continue their The Danish Way campaign. A main TVC, called Share and a number of online films, which are all featured below, star Danish acting legend Mads Mikkelsen displaying his ultra-cool Danish charm and ultra-dry Danish humour. Below, Lydon [far right] and Fold7’s Lucy Aston and Ryan Newey, reveal the thinking behind the campaign and what it was like working with Mikkelsen.
What was the brief from Carlsberg for this campaign and why did this feel like the right approach?
RN: The beer category has changed. Our audience has become more discerning. Today’s drinkers prefer craft and world beer. But Carlsberg is Danish, and held in high regard in its home country. The Danes are known not only for their understated style and cool, but also for being the happiest people on Earth. But just saying we’re Danish wasn’t enough. We needed to share the Danish way of life. We chose to celebrate this provenance through the idea of The Danish Way, fronted by our ambassador, Mads Mikkelsen.
LA: Before Peter [Lydon] came on board this year, we’d created our first brand ad with Mads, when we saw him cycling around various parts of Denmark, exploring the secret behind the Danes’ happiness.
Apart from being Danish, what makes Mikkelsen a perfect ambassador for the brand?
RN: We needed an actor who could deliver advice and wisdom on how to achieve happiness in an effortless, charismatic, and almost slightly menacing way. An overly jovial character philosophising on happiness just didn’t seem right.
LA: Mads is a huge international star, and Danish through-and-through. Fortunately, he is a man who likes his beer and loves his country. He becomes a joy to write for, to imagine different things our character could do and say.
Were there a lot of ideas/scripts which didn’t get made?
LA: It is true of any campaign that there’s always a trail of scripts and ideas that didn’t get made – it’s a natural part of the creative process. The great thing about this campaign, by having an ongoing character, all those old ideas that didn’t make it this time still have the potential to reappear. As the campaign and Mads’ character develops, there’s opportunity to share a Danish perspective on even more aspects of life.
Why was Peter Lydon the best choice for this campaign?
LA: On paper, Peter was already a good fit, combining an ability with comedy performances, with his track record of working with big names like Al Pacino, Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansson. We knew we needed someone who wouldn’t be intimidated by a big star. As soon as Peter came on board and we began to discuss the first three online scripts, it felt right. Peter, apart from bringing lots of good ideas, is a real collaborator, and that collaboration went from those very first meetings right through the shoot too.
What were your initial reactions when you saw the script?
PL: When I first saw the scripts I was obviously excited by the intelligence and playful nature of those scripts. I also saw room for collaboration, change, evolution. We only had one day to shoot those first three online scripts, in that initial phase. That, in itself, was a challenge which exerts its own aesthetic and its own discipline in terms of how we shoot. There was a lot of discussion with the creatives, all the way along. Not just about the words that Mads would say but the mechanics of the shoot, how we would deliver the ideas, and how we would get the best out of the time and the location.
I think we were blessed with a great location. It was a classic, modernist, Danish house on the coast up from Copenhagen. The house itself became something of a character, and a sort of perfect fit for Mads and the nature of his dialogue. We came away from the shoot feeling like we’d really moved things forward in terms of his character onscreen. That then benefitted the more recent four-day shoot that took us back into that cabin, as well as around the streets of Copenhagen for the TVC.
It was a very performance focused campaign; how important is it to quickly build a good working relationship with the actor.
PL: The first thing to say is that Mads is an actor who really gets involved and will have a very strong take on the scripts and the ideas. So, one needs to be very clear with him about intentions of the script and how he is going to play it. We were able to talk both on the phone and then face-to-face before the shoot to go through the scripts and establish a rapport.
Then, because we started with the online films, which involved a lot more dialogue and longer takes, it gave us an opportunity to build a level of trust and understanding. I have found that with any good actor, whether famous or not, they want to be directed/guided and sometimes told what to do! Building that relationship in the online films paid dividends when it came to the more technical TVC shoot. At that point we had Mads on bikes, on boats and out and about in Copenhagen. The whole business of dealing with weather, losing light, adoring crowds etc, meant that by then, there was little time discuss the minutiae of the performance.
Can you tell us what were the most challenging and rewarding aspect of the shoot.
PL: The main rewards on the shoot were seeing all these little moments come to life – moments that are the culmination of decisions and choices that have been going on for weeks. Like all shoots of this kind there are the usual challenges of marrying expectations and ambitions to the realities on the ground. We all want to make the best work possible, to make great films that do the job they set out to do. To that end The Fold 7 team and Carlsberg where incredibly collaborative and supportive. Communication throughout the shoot was excellent, making the whole thing a pleasure.