How to direct a cow and a Cornish language script, by Kelly's Ice Cream's creative team

Kelly’s of Cornwall has released its second ad spoken entirely in the Cornish language – a challenge only compounded this time by an unpredictable seaside location and the starring appearance of a cow.

The ice cream brand released its first Cornish-language ad in 2016, which was followed on by an educational language campaign fronted by Dawn French this year. The idiosyncratic format has been a success for Kelly’s in a market where it battles with global conglomerates with bigger budgets, such as Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s and General Mills’ Häagen-Dazs.

For the 2017 iteration, incumbent agency Isobel reunited with original director Alex Turner to create a spot paying homage to three distinct Cornish personalities and households: the surfer chick, the farmer and the family.

Each is housed in their own personalised beach hut on the Cornish shore and each has a favourite flavour of ice cream; in perfect Cornish they explain why they favour either Honeycomb Crunch, Clotted Cream or Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownie.

For the summer ad, Isobel and Turner refined the original spot’s casting process.

“We stripped the script down, sent it out and we got people to actually learn their lines,” said Ben Stump, creative director at Isobel. “For the first ad, we were getting people in who were trying to speak Cornish on the day, and it didn’t work at all. We ended up having to do weeks of casting.”

The script itself was written originally in English and translated with the help of Mark Trevethan, Cornish language lead at the Cornish Language Office. Cornish teacher Mick Painter came to set each day and helped actors with pronunciation.

“We were very conscious that we didn’t want it to be a stereotype and look like we were taking the Mick,” added Stump. “It could have crossed that line. So, we kept them in the loop all the way through.”

Alongside directing a language that he didn’t understand, Turner also had to contend with less-than-perfect weather, tidal ranges, a child actor and a cow.

“The child and the animal were good – they weren’t the most difficult bits to deal with,” he said. “The cow was very well behaved on the day. She had to get milked halfway through the day but other than that it was pretty simple actually."

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