A few years back I was watching TV late at night, there may have been snacks, cheesy snacks involved, and there may have been some beer taken earlier that evening, who can say, when I noticed that many of the ads that popped up on TV during the gaps between repeats of Baywatch or Mad Men (it was Baywatch) seemed to have all been filmed in the same city.
This city to be precise:
I kept seeing cars driving around the same city streets, plazas and bridges, gleaming paintwork shining in the glorious light and reflecting images of the beautiful buildings they passed as people, just as beautiful as the architecture, looked on admiringly.
Where was this El Dorado, this city full of the type of products and people that should only exist in the minds of marketing executives and the dreams of designers wanting to bask in the reflected glory of the imaginations of the greats who went before them.
Well, I recognized it. It was a place I already loved and where I now live.
"It was Barcelona"
The Catalan capital forms the backdrop to many of the ads you see on TV, the internet and social media. Car companies in particular seem to have an ongoing, almost romantic relationship with the city, Peugeot, BMW, Hyundai, Ford, Seat, Suzuki, Mini, Kia, Skoda, Opel and Mercedes are just some of the companies who choose Barcelona to showcase their vehicles. One of my favourite ads is this one from SEAT as they are really creative with their use of Barcelona video locations and it’s super playful and stylish, just like Barcelona in fact.
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But, it’s not only car companies that use Barcelona, check out some of the other products trying to bask in the reflected glory of Barna (this in case you didn’t know is the proper abbreviated name of Barcelona and not Barça which only refers to the football club – you can impress/annoy your friends with this knowledge at some point):
Magnum ice creams
Estrella Damm – this Barcelona Beer Company make short films in Barcelona and Catalonia that are basically works of art masquerading as adverts, or the other way round, you decide:
Turkish airlines & many more…
And of course, Barcelona F.C or Barça. But, there really are too many to list and don’t get me started on the amount of amazing films and music videos shot in Barcelona, because it’s like seriously crazy and now I live here I can testify that not a week goes by when part of my neighborhood doesn’t have a street closed down for filming making me take the long way to my local bodega.
"And it’s easy to see why brands shoot video in Barcelona"
Because Barcelona has everything. You want beaches with tanned and bronzed volleyballers, check, modernist & gothic architecture that takes your breath away, no problem, mountains and national park you can see from the city, you got it, and importantly for filmmakers a climate that means more average sunshine, and less rain, than any other comparable European cities.
In short Barcelona has it all. If you have a product you want to sell than why wouldn’t you use one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe to make your product shine?
But I know what you’re thinking, hell yeah Phil that’s alright for Nike and BMW with their millions of marketing dollars but what about the rest of us, filming an advertisement in Barcelona is out of reach for us, it’s just too expensive.
Well, I’m going to let you into a secret, it’s not.
Do you want Gaudi’s masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, as the background to your new range of toothpicks, or Las Ramblas (as an aside there are so many cool places to film in Barcelona that aren’t on the usual list of suspects, my colleague Wendy has written about them here) as the canvas on which to set your straight to camera description of your business, then you can have it.
Barcelona’s Film Commission allows a small crew (10 people and 1 camera with a tripod to shoot anywhere in Barcelona free of charge. Think about that, think about those ads you can shoot. You could use a portacabin in some grimy industrial site or you could film in one of the crown jewels of the Mediterranean, your choice you know, I’m just saying if you have a choice, which you do, then choose jewel over dumpster fire.
And if you don’t use a tripod then you don’t need any permit, yeah, you read that right you can just roll up and start filming in places like this:
And if you haven’t got a crew, or actors, or a script, then there are production companies that can provide all of this and it would be remiss of me not to mention my own company, Takeaway Content which can arrange all of this for you quickly and easily. Even, if you don’t want to fly to Barcelona because of pesky Covid , we can do this for you, and working remotely, deliver you an advertisement shot in Barcelona for a fraction of the price you may expect.
"So, think big with a small budget, and do like the big boys do, and film your next advertisement or promotional film in Barcelona"