ZooZoo is the name of the character in the most Sensational, Stunning, Cute Ads of Vodafone. These are the Ads made by O&M for Vodafone to convey different value added services offered by the mobile phone company. And the Man behind these Ads is Prakash Varma, an Indian.
On first look, these "ZooZoos" may resemble animated cartoon characters with an alien look or simply an egg-head character with disproportional white bodies and black dots for eyes and mouth. But the interesting part is that these are 'Not Animated Characters', but are actually slim women actors from local Mumbai theatres, dressed in white costumes that are stuffed with foam to portray the characters. They only had women and occasionally children as their main cast to keep the hands and legs thin of the Zoozoo characters.
The Zoozoo's are in fact real people in costumes with rubber cut-out's for facial expressions, however the sets and production of the advertisements give the effect of the characters being animated. The effect was achieved by a variety of methods including choosing the right material for the body suits to ensure that there were no wrinkles when the characters moved, shooting the footage at lower framerates and keeping backgrounds simple in terms of details and the use of a neutral tone of grey.
The zoozoo's were split in two parts - the body and the head. The body was made using a special material stuffed with foam in some places (notably around the stomach) while the head was created using using a harder material called Perspex.
The characters, all local theatre actors, had to perform in costumes, which came with their own set of problems. Wearing an enlarged headpiece, for example, meant that all the actors were practically blind. “They couldn’t see where they were going, so we had several funny instances where the actors would walk right out of the frame during shooting. Also, it was very difficult for them to breathe with those headpieces on, so the actors would take them off every few minutes for some air. But after the first few days, we got into the groove of things and managed just fine,” says Prakash Varma, director at Nirvana Films.
Still, on TV, the Zoozoos have come as a breath of fresh air providing a much-needed respite from the staple diet of cricket and politics that most viewers are living on—one of the objectives of the agency and the film-maker. “We wanted to create something unique. A character that would always be memorable… somewhat alien and yet, very human,” says Varma, who made the films. “When we started out, the idea was to ensure that no one should be watching cricket. Everyone should be talking about Zoozoo.”