Heineken: The Trailblazers

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VFX-driven advertising

The Trailblazers, the new Heineken campaign, tells a story of a group of men on an epic journey through the city which they thought they knew. Led by one of the friends, they learn that being brave and open-minded pays back as it leads to unforgettable experiences, even in their own backyard. The advert was created by advertising agency Publicis Italy.

Directed by MJZ director Matthijs van Heijningen, “The Trailblazers” is an epic 90 seconds of VFX-driven advertising.

With six worlds in one commercial, the scale of CG and VFX craft in one commercial is immense, and the result highlights a truly creative partnership. Transporting four ordinary blokes at the beginning of a night out in New York to the world’s most extreme environments – from the summit of Mount Everest to outer Space – the film delivers explosions, atmosphere, and flying debris on an extraordinary level, along with Hollywood-inspired storytelling.

Creating so many different ‘worlds’ in one film saw our VFX teams working for more than three months to craft the visual feast – teams across London, Amsterdam and Bangalore worked collaboratively to pull it off. Just some of the tasks involved included building two entirely CG ships, which required extensive previs before the shoot itself, a spacecraft – which van Heijningen wanted to shoot up close – and a sequence where the guys scale Mount Everest with a Himalayas backdrop. Not forgetting the impressive feat of creating a 10,000-strong Roman army from a cast of 100 actors!

Heineken The Trailblazers TV commercial making of:

Carsten Keller, VFX Supervisor (CG) and MPC’s Head of 3D says: ‘It was incredible working with Publicis Italy and Matthijs van Heijningen on this epic commercial. This is a huge piece of work – we’re talking about six films in one, crafted by over 70 artists in over 90 days. The VFX scale speaks for itself, and that sort of creative achievement isn’t possible without true collaboration, but the story remains about the journey these guys go on together. We hope that people watching truly believe that they’re there, in those worlds.’

“The Heineken Trailblazers spot is a feature-film scale project with the level of craft it required”, says Dirk Riesenfeld, who led the VFX in our Amsterdam studio – where the entire compositing team for the epic spot is based. “It’s the type of project that every VFX artist wants to work on. Whilst immersing our audience into the extreme worlds – we had to keep reality at the front of people’s minds. Working with both the agency and the director was an absolute pleasure creatively and personally. I also feel lucky to have a strong creative team around me in both our Amsterdam studio and MPC teams around the globe.”

Cities is a global platform that encourages ‘Men of the World’ to cross their own borders to discover new experiences. The nature of Cities increases local relevance and gives Heineken the opportunity to connect and build meaningful connections with consumers in the place they know best – their city, whilst encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone to enjoy new experiences – Open Your City, Open Your World.

Publicis Italy

Matthijs van Heijningen

Production Company

Global Chief Creative Officer Publicis WW
Bruno Bertelli

Executive Creative Director, Publicis Italy
Cristiana Boccassini

Executive Creative Directors, Publicis Milan
Luca Cinquepalmi, Marco Venturelli

Beatrice Mari

Art Director
Simone Di Laus

Alice Crovato

Executive Producer, MJZ
Helen Kenny

Producer, MJZ
Donald Taylor

Production Designer
Pirra Lorenzo

Chayse Irvin

Edit Company
Work Editorial

Jono Griffith


VFX Supervisor (CG)
Carsten Keller

VFX Supervisor (CG Ships)
Andreu Lucio Archs

VFX Supervisor (2D)
Dirk Riesenfeld

VFX Producer
Philip Whalley

CG Line Producer
Sandra Eklund

Line Producer
Deepanjali Singh

Production Assistant
Joanna Barcikowska




Epic TV commercial.

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