In April of 2010, we received a curious phone call from a boutique advertising agency about a conceptual ad campaign for a Cape Verdean beer called Strela. Our first impression was pure excitement… but little did we know, the photo shoot would actually take place in Africa, which only tripled our anticipation! Of course, we were thrilled to hear this, especially since we would be working side by side with a great film crew called Making Off that would be capturing footage for a spot as well as for a making of video.
Here is a brief diary of our adventures:
Day 1: One week later, we were departing Barcelona for Praia, the capital city on the island of Santiago. Santiago is the largest of the ten main islands of Cape Verde. Just off the western coast of Africa, the country was first inhabited by the Portuguese. There, they speak Portuguese and each island has its own dialect of Creole. The most useful word we learned was obrigado, or thank you!
Day 2: We spent our first day location scouting with the guys from Making Off – quick shout out to director/Making Off creator Elias Lalaux, DP Albert Ramirez, and camera operators (who are also talented photographers) Sergi Magallon and David Bretones – and of course our creative director, Laura Garcia. We initially met with Felix, the executive at Strela who would join us in our travels, and his coworkers Sa and Consencao, who were very knowledgable and helpful guides throughout the trip. This was one of my favorite days because we were able to drive around the whole island, seeing various types of rural villages and interacting with the locals. We were also able to check out the Cockpit, the island’s premiere disco, where we would be shooting the next day. The break between the travel day and the first shooting day also gave us a chance to solidify the concept for the campaign: real people from Cape Verde who represent the great taste, attitude, and pride of both the brand Strela and the nation. This would be obtained by capturing our subjects in their natural environment and in ways that portray the fun and carefree spirit of the beer.
Day 3: Our first shooting day! We began by shooting DJ Bife in his booth at the radio station. It was so fun to meet him and his fellow DJs, and carrying our equipment up five flights of stairs was definitely worth it! DJ Bife was super dynamic and energetic – he is definitely a Strela fan through and through. Next, we headed over the the Cockpit, which is the coolest disco on the island. There, we photographed the owner of the club at the bar, which was so fantastic because he not only is a huge supporter of Strela beer, but also exudes the kind and positive spirit that is so representative of the people of Cape Verde.
Day 4: Another day of shooting! This time, we shot a woman named Nichy, who owns a Strela kiosk in Praia. She is a great addition to the campaign because everyone in Cape Verde is familiar with her stand – it is a great location to hang out in the sun and enjoy a beautiful afternoon with friends drinking Strela!
Day 5: Travel day: farewell Praia, hello Sal! A short flight away, Sal is a beautiful island which is famous for its picturesque beaches, internationally known in the surfing community. Our resort was amazing with the beach just in the backyard!
Day 6: Our first subject was a restaurant owner, who we shot at a beautiful cove which overlooked the ocean and fishing boats. A true “Strelista,” he was so much fun to shoot. Next, we headed over to Milu’s restaurant, where she served us a tasty lunch of rice with seafood. A woman of all trades, Milu is a talented singer, dancer, and restauranteur. She literally had an audience gather to watch her sing and dance in the street while we photographed her!
Day 7: Another travel day: because we were all so desperate to watch the Barca game, we took two early flights to go from Sal to Praia to Sao Vicente (instead of the direct flight that took off right at kickoff). Luckily, we made it in time to watch the game….unfortunately, we lost to Inter. It was a sad moment, but we recovered quickly because we were in the beautiful islands of Cape Verde!
Day 8: With an outdoor bar, a modern swimming pool, the ocean in the background, and a beautiful Cape Verdean girl, we had our next shot handed to us! In order to get the right angle, Jason had to jump in the pool to capture Marisa lounging with the only thing that could complete the scene: a bottle of Strela! She looked stunning in her green dress, don’t you think? Next, we joined in on a pickup ping pong game with a friend! To our great discovery, Strela and ping pong mix very well, so we decided to capture that in the last shot. Sadly, we couldn’t all join in on the tournament because we had to get to the airport for a flight back to Praia!
Day 9: Rest! Our last day was spent chilling and relaxing at our client, Felix’s house. There, we spent the entire afternoon eating, drinking Strela, dancing, laughing, and playing ping pong. Felix was such a gracious host and travel companion to the different islands, but also proved to be a wonderful soul and great friend. We were all honored to join him in his beautiful home to feast on lobster, barbecued meat, and the pork dish from Senegal that he prepared specially for us. Additionally, he and Elias both got a chance to show off their DJing skills!
At this point, we were all so happy with the work we had done, but also sad to know our journey was ending. We all got along so well and within a day of meeting each other we had already become a family. It is not every day that a crew can create such strong friendships and at the same time accomplish a great deal of work, but somehow we managed to develop an incredibly productive and positive work environment along with lifelong relationships with the whole crew.
Check out the amazing video that documents the campaign:
We would like to take this moment to thank everyone who took part in this project for an amazing experience. It was a privilege to work with you, and we are so pleased with both the process and the end result. We are so proud to have these photos on billboards all over Cape Verde!
AMI E STRELISTA!!!!!!!