An animated commercial for a zoo without any recognizable animals in it? The new 100-second spot, “Artis Lives,” for the Artis Royal Zoo in Amsterdam, is a creative and entertaining spot that succeeds in promoting the Artis zoo’s mission without tipping too far into conventional animal cliches.

The abstract creatures are the creation of Christian Borstlap, who conceived, wrote, designed, and directed the spot. He also runs the Amsterdam creative studio Part of a Bigger Plan, that served as the agency for the spot.

“There’s fur and feathers in the film, there’s poo and arses, there’s flying crawling and growling species, but there’s no real animals,” Borstlap told the website It’s Nice That. “They are depicting life’s features. It’s an abstraction of life. There’s some similarities to natural design, for example the plant stems are like a reptile’s scaly tail. That created an impression of life that felt logical, not artificial, and created an enormous amount of freedom for the execution, as nothing needed to be realistic.”

The bold textural graphic treatment – and equally potent message about the interconnectedness of life – makes for a powerful spot. It’s the kind of idiosyncratic piece that could never emerge out of a traditional ad agency, where hierarchies of creative directors and producers tussle to insert their own ideas and ultimately dilute whatever creative spark a concept may have initially had.

The credit here belongs not just to the team at Part of a Bigger Plan (including the smartly minimalist animation of Manuel Ferrari), but to the advertiser – Artis – who agreed to go in this more experimental direction. Kudos to all involved.

Agency: Part of a Bigger Plan
Concept, script, film direction & art work: Christian Borstlap
Director’s assistant: Claire Peyton
Animation: Manuel Ferrari
Music: ‘Way back home’ by Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari (Courtesy of Dub Store Records, Japan)
Copywriter English: Christian Bunyan
Narrater: John Reilly
Production: Part of a Bigger Plan
Post production: Smoke & Mirrors
Producer: Lonneke Bertens
Music producer: Chikuma Tsuboi
Sound design: Rens Pluym, Ambassadors
Sound production: Zoë de Regt

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