World’s best ads ever #42: Sony proves it has ‘color like no other’ with 250,000 balls
We asked our readers to vote for their favorite commercials of all time. Top creatives from the World Creative Rankings and The Drum’s Judges’ Club then ranked the ads. Now, we bring you the definitive 100 best TV and video ads of all time.
A lot of thought went into making ‘Balls’, the 2005 Fallon ad that launched Sony’s LCD TV brand, Bravia – even if the script likely didn’t extend much beyond ‘bounce a million colorful balls down a San Francisco hill’. For starters, where do you even get a million balls?
The agency tried to order them from China, but that would take months. In the end, they made do with just 250,000 after phoning every funfair dealer in the US and emptying the shelves of toy shops. Still though, the crew – led by director Nicolai Fugslig – was determined not to rely on computer trickery to fill in any gaps. They insisted on shooting every single frame live on camera.
This involved three days of a 23-person camera crew (in body armor) hiding behind barricades and riot shields as 12 cannons (on which much of the budget was spent) discharged volley after volley of rubber balls down a steep hill toward them. It all sounds a far cry from the ad's graceful, slow-motion end product, aided by its day-dreamy soundtrack.
All drains on the hill had been taped up before shooting; between takes, a team of 50 students on roller skates swept balls from the bottom, distributing them to local children who had come to watch.
In the end, there was so much great footage that, for its first airing, Sony bought an entire ad break on Sky Sports 1, immediately before a Manchester United v Chelsea kick-off. That first two-and-a-half-minute version featured the José González song in its entirety. Digital hoardings around the pitch’s perimeter featured bouncing balls throughout the match, before the 60-second version we all know and love was shown during the halftime ad break.