It’s not often that The Drum's journalists actually feature in ads, least of all ones that involve nudity.
But when the editorial team was offered two days out of the office, skinny dipping in a secluded retreat in rural Spain with 99 strangers for a drinks ad, weirdly nobody seemed keen. “Alright then,” I shrugged.
A few days later I received a call from the agency to explain the details: 100 women would be jumping into the water for the Feel Good drinks brand, there would be a female director, it would be very tasteful and The Drum would get to write up the ad exclusively.
“But once you’re in, you’re in,” the agency boss warned. “I’m in!” I confirmed.
Out of 99 other women, nobody would even recognise me and I'd get two days in Spain for work while my colleagues are sat at their desks, I thought smugly as I browsed for a new pair of sunglasses.
I didn’t feel so nonchalant about the experience as the reality of what I’d signed up for dawned. Standing near the edge of a pontoon in the sweltering heat, sheepishly clutching a beach towel as long lens cameras loomed from all angles.
I was dying to get into the cool, turquoise water. But at what cost? I looked around – a few brave souls were already stark naked waiting to jump in, while others bonded over their apprehension. There was a diverse group of women there – from fashion bloggers to mums the brand's marketing director had met on the school run.
Some opted out of going fully naked, with one girl coming prepared with 'knicker stickers'. I gratefully accepted one, puzzled as to what they were for, besides this very specific situation.
People started to make their jumps. “Woo!” the crowd exclaimed at each splash. It was an encouraging atmosphere. I decided the sticker was unmerited, threw caution and sticker to the wind and dropped the towel.
Running hand in hand with two naked strangers, I jumped into the water. I felt liberated; 'I’m naked with strangers, it’s totally fine and not weird at all!'
I cheered as others jumped in and enjoyed a casual swim around the small lake, admiring the lush, green plants. When I chatted with fellow jumpers, phrases like “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”, “most random thing I’ve ever done”, and “we’re all the same down there really” abounded.
It was a positive experience. Sharing a moment like that with 99 other women sure does break the ice. I also have a newfound respect for those working in the advertising industry, particularly production teams. At work I watch tons of ads every day, but seeing first-hand the level of planning and patience required to pull off a project like this was really valuable and the team were responsive to people's concerns about getting their kit off for an ad.
A month or so later, I nervously pressed play on a sneak preview of the video with the editorial team crowded around my desk, wondering what I'd actually let myself in for. Was it worth it? Will I have made the final cut? Will I be getting calls from relatives for the next few weeks asking why they saw me naked on the telly?
The ad is now out and I did indeed make the final cut. I won’t tell you where.
Robyn Darbyshire is junior content editor at The Drum. Follow her on Twitter @robynemilyd.