All of the residents of the Migros building


How the Migros advert was made

The new Migros advertising campaign focuses on an apartment building and its residents. Upon our visit to the set in Wädenswil, a young resident was rewarded with crisps and the day ended with a toast.

Lisa Stutz

Scrounging crisps is a skill you have to learn. «Try to hop a bit higher,» says Director Micha Lewinsky to the little boy Finn, whose actual name is Liam. The young blonde actor nods his head. «Attention, stand-by,and let's go!», cries the director. Liam immediately assumes the character of Finn, dashes across the apartment, knocks over a table lamp, looks back quickly and comes to a halt next to his neighbour Mauri, who is holding a plate of crisps in his hand. Finn jumps up and pinches a paprika crisp. The director stops the shot with a quick «Thank you!». He has the actors repeat the scene a couple more times, as he appears to not be entirely satisfied with something. «Do you know what, Liam,» he says finally, «forget everything I said about you hopping. You did it brilliantly before.»

The young lad had to hop up a few more times before they could finish filming the scene, but that didn't bother him at all. After all, he gets to munch on every crisp he gets. «That is the last time I will eat crisps today,» he says almost wistfully after the last take. The actors and film crew laugh.

Everyone is on their feet for the final scenes of the new Migros advert in Mauri and Stefan's apartment. The gay couple are played by actors Alireza Bayram and Matthias Britschgi. In the advert, they are moving into the apartment building and in doing so meet their new neighbours: the married couple of Jean (Jonas Rüegg) and Denise Bachmann (Samia von Arx) and their children Finn (Liam von Arx) and Lara (Elodie Aklin), the single father Beat Brender (Sebastian Krähenbühl) and his daughter Lea (Alina Rolli), and the widowed Francesca Bernasconi (Tatiana Winteler). Mauri spontaneously invites all of the neighbours to a drinks reception, which his partner is not too pleased about at first. It all ends in cheerful chaos after a few drinks.

With «real» family photos

The advert is the prelude to the new advertising campaign. People in Switzerland will now start seeing the residents of the apartment building on TV, social media and billboards. In order to film the advertisements, Migros rented a hall measuring 2,300 square metres in Wädenswil in the canton of Zurich, in which the residents' four apartments were built. A Migros branch store will be recreated in the back of the hall later in the future. This is the first advertisement film set of its kind in Switzerland.

On television, it appears as if the apartments are built on top of one another and are connected by a stairwell. In reality, they are situated next to one another in the hall. The stairwell area is mobile and can be moved to each apartment. From the outside, the apartments have the appearance of single-storey structures made from thin wood.

Inside, they feel immediately like home. In the apartment belonging to the Bachmann family, for example, there are toys scattered around the floor, colourful blankets and cushions decorate the sofa and family photos are displayed on the kitchen shelf. If you take a closer look, you will see that the people in the photos are actually the four actors. The people responsible for this attention to detail are Peter Scherz and his production design company Delighted.

In contrast, Stefan and Mauri's apartment is almost empty on the morning of the last day of shooting. After all, the apartment should not be completely furnished for the scene on the day of the move-in. It is 9 a.m. and the actors and employees are arriving on set one-by-one. Some 65 people are working on set today, including stylists, make-up artists, set builders, production managers, Migros employees working on the campaign and the people responsible from the advertising agency. Everyone is bustling about and after nine days of shooting, everyone has come together to form a well-drilled team. At 10:30 a.m., they are ready to shoot the first scene. «Quiet please!», rings out through the large hall. Everyone goes quiet at once. Except for Finn. He races across the room, knocks the lamp over and pinches some crisps – over and over.

Getting to know the characters

Director Micha Lewinsky stands at the front of the hall during a break in filming. «How is it going?», I ask. «Excellently,» he says, satisfied. «We have got the best people from all over Switzerland in every role.» Mainly the actors, who from young to old deliver outstanding performances, he explains. He continues by saying that for him as a director, it is great to work on a series of advertisements like these from the start. At the beginning, you can still help to shape the series of ads, he says. What he sees as being special about the new Migros campaign is that the audience will meet characters who they will get to know more over time and come to love. «This is a huge project for an advertising campaign,» he states.

«We have got the best people from all over Switzerland in every role.»

Micha Lewinsky, director

He finds the first advertisement, referred to internally as simply «Drinks reception», to be funny. «It does not contain any major punchlines, but it does reveal small details from the characters' lives, which we want to show.» And what does he think makes for a good drinks reception? «Above all else, nice people,» he says while laughing. They definitely have these here. Matthias and Alireza, who play the couple Stefan and Mauri, are standing outside in the sun during the next break. The two actors are acting together for the first time. «The first thing we had to do was find a common vibe,» explains Ali in relation to working together. «It is a delicate matter,» adds Matthias. They are both film and stage actors – advertisement is new territory for them. «Our one requirement was that the whole thing has the feel of a film,» says Matthias. «We want to create a feeling of authenticity.» Ali was excited when he read the script before casting for the role: «I thought that it's about time we had a gay couple!» After all, a wide variety of customers shop at Migros, he continues. «That's why I decided to try shooting an advertisement.» Matthias nods his head.

A smile to swoon over

The front part of the hall plays host to a number of chairs and screens. This is where the people responsible for this advertisement from Migros and the Wirz advertising agency sit. They watch and approve each and every scene after it has been shot in the hall behind them.

In the last scene on the last day of shooting, Stefan is filmed smiling at Mauri in a forgiving manner throughout all of the chaos of the drinks reception. You can now instantly see what Matthias meant when he mentioned authenticity. His loving smile is so genuine that customers and agencies alike will swoon at the screen. «Are you all happy?», the director asks his colleague on set over the radio. «Yes!», he confirms.

Soon afterwards, the entire crew gather in the rear part of the hall. The mood is a joyful one, as the director and the campaign manager officially thank them for their hard work. Nine exhausting days of shooting are now over. And now? What's next? A drinks reception, of course.