but cows don’t look up…

Kemira, a global chemicals company, has a fertiliser product – “BUMPER CROP”, that helps produce large crops for silage to use as livestock feed.

They needed an ad producing that demonstrated this fact.

The art director in charge of the campaign had sketched out an idea showing farm buildings and half a dozen cows with their farmer, all looking up at an unfeasibly large silage clamp (A silage clamp is usually a 3-sided structure to store fermenting silage, the silage is covered with plastic sheeting and held down with tyres).
It looked like the biggest mountain of silage created – ever!

As Kemira insisted the final ad look exactly like the art directors scamp, I had to find all the pieces of the ‘jigsaw’ that made up the image, because the farm the art director had drawn didn’t exist, it was totally from his imagination.

Key to the shoot was to find a huge lump of land we could lay the black silage sheet over and then place the hundreds of car tyres onto it. The rest was easy…

Whilst driving around the countryside searching for locations for the other components in the image (like farm buildings etc), I thought I would probably just stumble onto something I could use for our mountain of silage.
I eventually found the perfect farmhouse, barn, gate (sheep included), trees, silage clamp walls and farmyard in various parts of the Lake District, Yorkshire and Derbyshire but, there was no hill, mound or lump that was perfect for what the art director and I had in mind. They’d be too big, or too small or just not the correct shape.
I then realised I’d have to make my own lump.

I thought … quarry! They have mounds of earth or rocks (or whatever they were excavating), we could have them construct a mound to our own ‘design’ – to our exact size and shape requirements.
After a few calls with our request, a friendly quarry was found near Buxton, Derbyshire – they dutifully built “The Lump” to our required specs – finally we had that element of the puzzle ‘in the bag’.

The last piece, and what I thought would be the easiest part of the shoot, was the image of cows looking up in awe at the monsterous silage clamp.
When I informed a local, tame farmer that we required six or so cows to look up, he answered, “but cows don’t look up”.
Apparently they’ll quite happily look left, right, ahead and down… but never up.
No matter what we tried to do to induce the required neck position for the shot, food, whistling, waving, sheepdogs balanced on top of walls, they just wouldn’t look up.

So manipulation on system had to be the answer in the end.

Finally a dozen different images were merged together to create the photograph below. Everything had to match, such as lighting and perspective – and to this day no one has spotted that it’s a total “fake” …although one eagle-eyed farmer spotted that one of the cows had too many front legs, however even he never once mentioned the cows looking up…