Things That Didn’t Need to Be CG: Rosie the Robot [UPDATED]

A new series of ads for Brilux cleaning supplies resurrects Hanna-Barbera’s Rosie the Robot in CGI. The character is removed from her futuristic context on The Jetsons and dropped into a contemporary scene of Brazilian upper class domesticity.

It’s less a question of whether it’s well done or not, and more a question of why. Sure, there was some novelty value a decade ago when computer animated versions of drawn cartoon characters were all the rage. But do audiences still find this type of thing interesting or do creatively bankrupt ad agencies keep shoving it down our throats because they can’t come up with anything better? When you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel with Rosie the Robot and Charlie the Tuna, it might be time to come up with a new idea.

UPDATED: The creative director of the campaign, Aliwton Carvalho, has provided some valuable background info on the spots:

The story is less about Rosie or The Jetsons and more about the social revolution happening right now in Brazil. A year ago, a constitutional amendment, which extended the country domestic workers’ rights, was approved by the Parliament, causing middle class to increase participation in performing the household tasks themselves, just like it happens at more developed countries. So the main subject here is the concept and the discussion we’re trying to fuel and sponsor. So we wanted realism. At first we even considered creating a new, generic robot. Later we opted for Rosie because her personality fits the campaign speech beautifully. And, I’m sorry for that, but we also thought it would be fun to reimagine Rosie as a real thing. ;)

CREDITS
Agency: Gruponove
Creative direction: Aliwton Carvalho, Gustavo Rêgo
Art direction: Athos Bernardo, Eduardo Fialho, Ricardo Barros
Writing: Aliwton Carvalho, Ana Emília Mesquita, Lucas David, Vinícius Bandeira
Artwork: Helton Rodrigues, Horst Lambert, Jader Melo
Planning: Eduardo Breckenfeld, Marília Lacerda, Manoela Neves
Atendimento(?): Giovanni Di Carlli, Fernanda Navarro
Graphic production: Carlos “Jovem” Oliveira, Judite Campos
RTVC Production: Julia Menescal e Jéssica Paraíso
Media: Pablo Fernandes e Naciara Figueiredo
Video production: Paranoid
Scene director: Luis Carone
Executive director: Ducha Lopes
3D and post-production: Jonathan Post
Photography and image processing: Techno Image

(Thanks, Alysson Simplicio, via Cartoon Brew’s Facebook page)


  • K

    I mean, in the end, why animate anything at all. Shouldn’t a picture be good enough for you?

  • Steve Flack

    I think you’re missing the point here. It’s not that the character is being presented as 3D animation instead of 2D. it’s being presented as 3D animation instead of practical effect or puppetry.

    The joke here is that there is a modern family, with a robot housekeeper. The bigger question is does it matter that the robot housekeeper is a vaguely known property?

    • khan8282

      I agree. This doesn’t really seem like part of the trend of classic 2d cartoon characters being updated to 3d cartoons just for … you know … because. The entire gag revolves around them getting a real, physical robot, and that part works. If anything, it would have worked better if it was more realistic, without the cartoony extending arms and such.

      On the other hand, did it really benefit from being Rosie? Personally, I think a robot designed specifically for the setting would have been better.

    • http://technicalluddite.com/ Hannele Kormano

      Exactly! You’re still in on the joke of a retro-futuristic robot, regardless of whether you get the Jetsons reference or not.

  • Aliwton Carvalho

    I’m glad to see the campaign reaching an international audience. Really. Despite the criticism, which I always try to respect. But, as the Creative Director behind this, let me explain a bit the strategy and why this was made using CG. The story is less about Rosie or The Jetsons and more about the social revolution happening right now in Brazil. A year ago, a constitutional amendment, which extended the country domestic workers’ rights, was approved by the Parliament, causing middle class to increase participation in performing the household tasks themselves, just like it happens at more developed countries. So the main subject here is the concept and the discussion we’re trying to fuel and sponsor. So we wanted realism. At first we even considered creating a new, generic robot. Later we opted for Rosie because her personality fits the campaign speech beautifully. And, I’m sorry for that, but we also thought it would be fun to reimagine Rosie as a real thing. ;)

    • AmidAmidi

      Aliwton, Thank you for that perspective on the campaign. I’ve posted your comments within the body of the piece so everyone sees it. While I find the whole trend of repurposing classic characters in CG to be a little tired, I’m impressed by the social context of the ads.

      • Aliwton Carvalho

        Thank you, Amid. I totally understand your opinion. And I must also admit that I’d agree with you on that subject in many other cases. Anyway, as I said before, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to reimagine the cartoon character in CG, as we needed realism, instead of creating a generic robot. Not just because we love Rosie, but also because it helps the campaign reach a higher level of relevance. Would we even have this conversation here if we had created a generic robot? I think not. :)

  • Marc Crisafulli

    Amid: ‘Why’ is simple. Rosie was and is something of an icon, and in theory, a character so recognizable can help sell any product. I think her design here is smart enough, but only in the third spot is there any hint of Rosie’s true character. So much of what made the work memorable is overlooked. What could be a true celebration utilizing that nostalgia instead plays like nothing more than superficial commercialism. Unfortunate. Yeah.

  • Harry Bastard

    O.k, Amid, I know yer a lover of all things old-school and 9 times out of ten film studios and ad agencies seem to be raping a corpse, but seriously, yer pissed about THIS? It’s a damn charming incarnation, a nice nod to the Jetsons AND a bit of sci-realism; if a company were to market a maid-bot, who sez they wouldn’t license Rosie?

  • Caitlin Cadieux

    Is there a good reason why not? I don’t see the problem here, as someone who would love for traditional animation to be back on top again. They’re commercial advertisements and CG is the popular animation medium today; where people in the 60s watched Chuck Jones traditionally animated cartoons, people today are used to seeing CG animation from TV shows to feature films. There’s no inherent reason that it’s a bad or creatively bankrupt decision — a traditionally animated Rosie the Robot would, in my opinion, be just as pointless and unnecessary in these commercials. I think the best point in this article is that it would be better to come up with an entirely new idea than reuse and update old cartoon characters.

    A curious sentence from the Starkist article:
    “Starkist could have done something really fresh and original had they hired traditional animators to revive the strikingly stylish look of the original character developed by Chuck Jones in the early-1960s”

    Reviving an old look with traditional animators isn’t fresh or original at all. To my tastes it’s absolutely superior, but it’s contradictory to argue that CG is bad and creatively bankrupt while in the same breath encouraging them to revert to a look and feel from fifty years ago. I have to reiterate that again, it would be better to use a completely new idea than either of these options.

    That all being said, there is something really creepy about Rosie in these, haha! Although Charlie the Tuna serving up cute Tuna girls to Starkist in the 60s commercials was a little off too, when you think about it.

  • Skip

    I actually liked the use of the character in CG here. Also I don’t care about the cleaning products, the commercials make me want to have a Rosie the Robot of my own.

  • http://technicalluddite.com/ Hannele Kormano

    I disagree that it’s solely a cheap ploy to nostalgia – namely, it resists using any outright catchphrases or explicit mentions of the Jetsons (that I caught).

    For this reason, I find that this is a perfect way to handle a reference like this. The charming sound effects and design from the original Jetsons cartoon are there for people who catch the reference, but they are also a delight for those who do not.

    In other words, you get to be in on the joke of a retro-futuristic robot either way.

  • Rosie seems to work for me….

    In this instance, I think the CG suits the spot perfectly. The design is a slight update to the old one, but not a creepy rendition. More recent 3D ‘updates’, such as Scooby Doo, Yogi Bear, and now Sherman and Peabody as creepy as hell, and should just stop.

  • tredlow

    I thought it was cute.

  • AnimationFan234

    I love how we’re fussing over useless, irrelevant Hanna Barbera characters rather than paying respect to one of the all-time greats of modern American animation, Michael Sporn, who died this past weekend.

  • Aliwton Carvalho

    Thank you, Zekey. Much of the merit goes to the films director Luis Carone and the guys at Jonathan Post. They are simply amazing at their job. If you’re curious about the production process, there’s a making of video with some behind the scenes footage on Gruponove’s Youtube channel. Unfortunately it’s in portuguese only. Anyway it’s more to be seen than to be listened. Here’s the link: http://youtu.be/WFVh9tlP3oQ

    • Larry Ruppel

      Hey Aliwton, As a character animator myself, I think your animation team did a fine job in bringing Rosie to life. There are some nice poses on the robot (not easy to do), and the acting and action is always clear. I wish I was working with you guys!

  • Chris Sobieniak

    No qualms here, though it would be neat to have had Rosey say a few sarcastic things here and there!

  • Matt Williams

    I found these ads extremely charming, and the added social
    context is just icing on the cake. To me, this is a nice re-imagining of a
    beloved childhood character that simultaneously pokes gentle fun at the kitschy Jestons view of the future. I think it lacks the crassness I think you’ve
    rightly criticized in other posts.

  • Iamsam

    The Tuna one sucked. Especially since they kind of kept is semi 2d. I think this one worked mainly because Rosie is a robot and Robots work really well in 3d. Sorry I’m not with you on this one. I could see the Tuna, Tony the Tiger, Honey nut bee, etc this is one time it was probably a good bet to use.

  • IamSam

    Agreed. Sorry AMID. A robot works so well in CG vs the other stuff which I do in fact agree with you!

  • Kirby

    I guess its good to see some good and bad examples.

  • Rufus Chickenplight

    I usually concur that CGI in commercials is arbitrary, especially the tuna ads not too long ago, it’s clear someone put a lot of effort into this. It’s actually not that bad. But when I read the title, I knew Amid was sniffing around, stirring the boiling pot.

  • Wesley Schneider

    Rose Rigging Process https://vimeo.com/85264023