Last time out, Lipton's Brisk Iced Tea campaign featured a faux Frank Sinatra and his famous blue eyes. Round Two, a :30 titled "Rocky," has Rocky Balboa getting a couple of black ones.
A 12-inch latex puppet version of the box office brawler is pummeled in the ring until he chugs a Brisk between rounds, vaulting him into another classic comeback. Sylvester Stallone himself did the voiceover, but Ren and Stimpy's Billy West-not Rocky alumnus Burgess Meredith-played trusted manager Mickey. "Billy's a maniac," laughs creative director Mickey Paxton of J. Walter Thompson, New York. "And we wanted the energy that comes from Mickey to be almost indiscernible." Puppets were created by Oscar-winning MacKinnon & Saunders, Manchester, England. Latex was poured over clay models to create the bodies. Intricate wire skeletons with ball joints account for the realistic movement.
Director Ken Lidster and producer Glenn Holberton of London's Loose Moose shot stop-motion in black and white for two weeks' worth of 10-hour days. Contrast is more dramatic in "Rocky" than in the duo's Sinatra spot as certain shots were saturated in an homage to Raging Bull (Paxton dubs it Rocky meets Raging Bull meets Bugs Bunny).
At Soho 601 in London, Henry artist Bruce Hancock combined black and white passes with color, ensuring the blue Brisk can stood out. Hancock also added live-action smoke to the background of each shot. Multiple points of tracking in ALF were used as Mickey pulls the can from a bucket of ice. The ice itself was matted frame by frame in Paintbox by Bill Keehner. Paintbox work also refined the character animation, adding visible gulps as Rocky drinks the iced tea and animating his hair movement as he's rocked by opposing punches. The sweat that flies off Rocky's face is actually splashes of water shot against black and composited in Henry. Soho 601 Flame artist Des also enhanced the ring combat, distorting Rocky's face. Flame was also responsible for the final composited shot which sports two waving American flags.