BBC Creative launches Tokyo Olympics 2020 promo

The corporation’s in-house agency has teamed up with Nexus Studios and Factory Fifteen to create a film that reimagines the host city

A year later but still as eagerly anticipated, BBC Creative has launched its Tokyo 2020 Olympics trailer titled Let’s Go There, ahead of the channel’s coverage, which kicks off next month. 

Created in-house with the help of Nexus Studios and director collective Factory Fifteen, the spot sees Tokyo taken over by the Olympics with street signs, shops, arcades, Gashapon parlours, and a J-Pop music video crammed full of references to the Olympic sports, athletes and BBC presenters. 

All images: Nexus Studios

Fast-paced with splotches of magic, the promo captures the excitement of the games. This is all emphasised by the ad being captured as an “immersive, disembodied single shot move, with fluid transitions between radically different environments”.

As the film is set to be shown multiple times across the BBC, the team also plugged an array of Easter eggs throughout the 60 seconds, so viewers will continually spot new references. “As trained architects turned filmmakers, we wanted the environment to tell a story, and reward repeat viewings to find all the Easter eggs of sports and athletes,” explains Factory Fifteen, made up of Kibwe Tavares, Jonathan Gales and Paul Nichols.

“Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that the Olympic pictograms in the opening scene are actually from the 1964 Tokyo games, where the pictograms were actually used for the first time. As the spot develops they transition into the 2020 pictograms which are an evolution of those 1964 versions.” This is one of many old-new nods the trio have peppered in, from the scene progression itself to these smaller details. 

“Capturing Japanese culture and sensibilities was also very important to us,” they say. “We partnered with Fantasista Utamaro on the art direction of all the design assets we proposed to give everything an authenticity and quirkiness we definitely would not have achieved alone.” The film is set to original music by legendary Anime composer Kenji Kawai, who is celebrated for his work on Ghost in the Shell, Avalon and Kyakkin.

One challenge of the project was not only the delays the pandemic caused but also the fact Factory Fifteen and the team were unable to travel to Tokyo for the shoot. “It meant directing the camera, production crews and designers remotely,” they say. “But it all worked surprisingly well with a live feed to the camera and a Zoom link to the crew.”

Collaborating with the BBC to reimagine Tokyo for the Olympic Games has been a dream project for Factory Fifteen. “We love bringing places to life with a heightened sense of reality and fantasy, often using the environment as a character,” they say.

“It was amazing to re-interpret evocative Japanese scenes with the world’s biggest sports and athletes woven into the city through authentic design and storytelling.”

Behind the scenes of the shoot

Tokyo hasn’t hosted the Olympics since 1964, and while this time might feel a little different – having already been delayed for a year – this promo hopes to whip up the excitement for people watching the coverage at home.

“An Olympics hosted in Tokyo was a real gift – a city rich in pop culture, hosting the world’s most eclectic sporting event. It gave us the opportunity to push our campaign both conceptually and in its execution,” says BBC Creative’s Tim Jones. 

Concept sketch for the J-Pop video scene
Concept sketch for the J-Pop video scene

He continues: “And we couldn’t be prouder to be (finally) sharing it. Every frame of the film is rich with detail, fully immersing our audiences in a Tokyo where the Olympics has already taken over. Just as it will take over all our lives for 16 days this summer.

“Creating something with this much detail was incredibly intricate but also lots of fun. I’ve watched the edit more times than I can count and I still spot something new or something I forgot we included!” 

Agency: BBC Creative
Director: Factory Fifteen
Production Company: Nexus Studios
Creative Director: Fantasista Utamaro
VFX: The Mill
Composer: Kenji Kawai
Sound: Mark Hills @ Factory