Bringing King Bastian to life for Clash of Kings

So, did you recognize the guy in the crown and armor?

When Clash of Kings came to us with the idea to do a testimonial campaign in Germany, it just had to be Bastian Schweinsteiger — the king of the pitch for the German national team and definitely a household name.

Our creative director, Shahak Shapira, knew we would have to do something special to make this spot different than your standard testimonial:

“You always know Schweinsteiger as a football player, without a beard or the armor of a king. We wanted to give him a totally new scenery and a new story.”

So our creative team set to the task of putting Basti into a full-on, Game-of-Thrones style world — with a new persona, a full set of armor, and his own army of knights.
There’s nothing quite like working on big productions, and this was our biggest and most ambitious live shoot to date. There’s also nothing quite like seeing your favorite footballer get a beard glued to his face. Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at how it all came together!

Mighty Manchester

The entire commercial was shot in Manchester — Bastian’s adopted hometown now that he plays for the local Premier League team, and one of Britain’s finest landscapes. With its breathtaking mountains and open fields, Manchester was the perfect place for this majestic live shoot!

The first challenge was transforming an old quarry into a medieval town to provide the perfect backdrop for the battle. The production team put a lot of love into the details to make the whole setup feel authentic — real candles to light the scene, a pig’s head on a platter ready for eating, and carpets and rugs made of animal hide.

Second challenge? The Manchester weather, of course. Our producerGeraldine Gramenz-Hohlbein’s thoughts on the two-day shoot:

“Very muddy. As soon as we arrived on set, we all set out to buy wellington boots!”

Rallying the troops

First off, Basti was a lot of fun to work with. The only tricky part was managing his time — big stars have tight timetables! But Geraldine, as always, was on top of things:

“With big stars like Schweinsteiger you only have a certain amount of time, whereas on the production side shooting will definitely take more than eight hours. To fit everything in with the amount of time we had with Bastian was a bit tight, but the end result is really fantastic.”

Working with a crew of several hundred is also a pretty incredible feeling. 80 of the actors are dedicated knights — meaning these guys play knights in movies and commercials like this one full-time. Not a bad day job!

We also enlisted the help of director Markus Walter, who’s produced some truly stunning commercials for Audi, BMW and IKEA, to name a few.Shahak, who developed the concept for the ad, was super excited to get the chance to work with Markus:

“I knew Markus personally and had wanted to work with him for a long time. He had the perfect work and we really liked that he didn’t want to shoot the spot in front of a green screen. It was important to make the video look real; we didn’t want to do it in a studio, even though that might have been easier.”

Also on the crew, we had director of photography Ian Foster, who has big budget films like The Social Network and Tomorrow Never Dies to his name. Special mention goes out to the team from production firm Iconoclast who did a beautiful job producing the spot. You guys rock!

You can see the spot in the wild if you keep an eye out on TV (in Germany that is), or if you’re going to see the movie Warcraft in theaters anytime soon. In the meantime, get a taste of the film production life in our exclusive making-of video:

Onward, to victory!

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