Calabash animates Charlie for Starkist
April 29, 2021

Calabash animates Charlie for Starkist

CHICAGO — It's been 60 years since America was first introduced to Charlie the Tuna, the classic brand icon for Starkist tuna. The company’s latest ad - Stair Climb 500 - features the work of animation studio Calabash and finds the advertising icon assuming the persona of a sports announcer, who provides running commentary for a busy mom’s day.

“How does she do it?” Charlie asks. The answer, naturally, is by refueling with Starkist Tuna chicken and salmon pouches.

The new :15 ad is one of two that Calabash collaborated on with Harrisburg, PA-based agency Quench. Stair Climb 500 is currently airing in several edits, while a second spot will break later this year.

“We’ve worked on many StarKist ads with Charlie, but each time it always feels fresh and new as we animate new actions for Charlie,” Calabash’s creative director Wayne Brejcha explains. “In this one, he swims alongside the actress as she hurries up the stairs and high-fives with her. The pandemic made it necessary to work remotely, so the animators were never all together in the same room. We managed the project on Slack. The animation rig for Charlie is always a challenge, but our animators came up to speed quickly.”

Brejecha says that the actor did a particularly good job performing with the animated character thanks to an actual-size stand-in print of Charlie, which helped the director compose the shot. 

"The scene where she high-fives with Charlie was the most challenging, but thanks to our compositing experience with the Charlie character, the final shot was flawless,” Brejecha adds.