London’s Iconic Tower Bridge (Not Really) Used As Promo Facade For New Prime Documentary

June 24, 2024 by Dave Haynes

I was developing some sense lately that the creative industry was starting to buy into the idea that it was OK to be honest – even if the honesty was subtle – about CGI-driven out of home ads being faked, or more gracefully described as Faux DOOH or #FOOH.

I’ve seen lots of Linkedin posts in recent months that use #CGI, #FOOH and other hash tags, or include preambles that read something like “we had some fun with CGI to imagine the ___ building sporting a cowboy hat…”

But then there was this creative campaign last week for an Amazon Prime documentary about Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer, showing young and old Federers hitting balls back between the two towers that make up London’s iconic Tower Bridge. The ball is shown tracking across the open space between the towers, and then a giant poster drops down promoting the documentary.

It’s a CGI job, but the great, great majority of the media coverage and commentary on the campaign from last week describe how the two towers were projection-mapped, and worry in the writing about tings like the possible annoyance of hearing the audio of the ball being struck repeatedly as the two Federers rally. Search “Federer Tower Bridge” and you’ll see. This post is pretty typical.

The gap between the two towers is 200 feet (61 meters), so actually putting in a projection film screen and a large bank of projectors – in the middle of the river on a barge (maybe???) – would be a giant, complicated and very expensive job.

The mixed reality CGI ad is genuinely clever, and has had the desired effect of getting attention and social media shares. So, well done there!

But, would it have been that hard to come clean with even a passing note that this is all CGI and not a real life thing?

There are two issues I can think of:

Here’s a recent example of building, in Wolfsburg, Germany, that really was projection mapped and illuminated to promote a show. Not as spectacular as the tennis thing, but people really could go down to the waterside and see this for a few days in June.

I had a good chat and debate with Bravo Media’s David Title about the big rise in CGI/mixed reality campaigns. This podcast gets into it.

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