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Making-of the AXA-ARAG ads: What do an alpaca and legal protection have in common?

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A new advertising campaign is being launched this fall for the new modular legal protection insurance from AXA-ARAG. The package of measures also includes short ads on social media featuring Alex and Robin from AXA’s video team. And a very cute alpaca that simply steals the show from the two video guys with its wow factor. 

Robin, the key question first of all: What is the name of the star of the new AXA-ARAG ads?

Robin (grins): The star of the ad is called Robin. The other two are called Alex and Pablo.

Alex (rolls his eyes): Named after his grandfather, the cuddly star is called Pablo for short; his full name is Pablo Maria Fernando Emiliano Antonio Hans Meier.

Alex, how did you hit upon the idea of filming with an alpaca as the protagonist? Alpacas and legal protection don’t seem to go together.

As well as flamingos and unicorns, alpacas are definitely the most trendy animals at the moment. As we couldn’t get hold of any flamingos or unicorns, we chose an alpaca. We have also always wanted to cuddle an alpaca.

Was there an audition? How did you find Pablo and why was he chosen? 

Robin: We found out about the Zollinger family and their alpaca breeding through Google. Around 30 alpacas took part in the “audition”, but as the most graceful, cutest and cuddliest alpacas were all busy, we chose Pablo. On reflection though, we were more than happy with our choice: Pablo is a natural talent and has that certain something - he made his film debut with flying colors.

How did Pablo get to the filming locations?

Alex: The Zollinger family were really nice and allowed us to film in their home. Pablo was therefore in familiar surroundings when we were shooting. He doesn’t normally live in a private residence.

How did Pablo behave on set? Was he easygoing or a bit capricious?

Robin: Pablo was a diva on set, but I’m already used to Alex so I knew how to deal with his capers. Alpacas are essentially very inquisitive and friendly animals and they’re easy to work with. But they’re also very stubborn and headstrong, such as on day two of filming when Pablo suddenly decided that he’d had enough. There was nothing anyone could do, no way Jose, not in a million years. We had to stop filming and come back another day.

Alex: No wonder! You prima donna, always taking center stage - that didn’t go down well with our furry diva. It wasn’t any easier the next day, as Pablo recognized us from afar and could already sense that work lay ahead. It was only through cajoling and the promise of a biscuit bonus that he finally made himself available to us for two hours of his precious time.

What’s important when filming with animals? Are there any guidelines?

Alex: The hardest thing is to film with children or animals, as you never know what might happen. They’re erratic and change their minds from one minute to the next: So I’m done with films now. I just want to play football, eat jelly babies or, in Pablo’s case, just blankly gaze around my surroundings.

Apart from that, we took great care to ensure that the animal wasn’t stressed and had enough breaks. 

Can you give us any details about Pablo’s private life?

Alex: Pablo is a hedonistic Bohemian alpaca, a real bon vivant. Only the greenest grass and clearest water are good enough for him. He won’t talk about his age, that’s his secret. But what I can and am allowed to say with certainty is that he is a confirmed bachelor. He doesn’t want to get tied down yet, as he’d like to travel the world and visit his relatives in Machu Picchu. 

Can an alpaca or any other animal be nominated for a film award?

Robin: Yes, good animal performances are recognized too. There was the PATSY Award until 1986, the winners of which included Lassie, Flipper, Judy the female chimpanzee from Daktari, and Holly Golightly’s cat Orangey in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Now there are the Pawscars. We’re going to submit the films for AXA ARAG and hope that Pablo will be nominated and maybe bring back an award to Switzerland. Start small – dream big! 

And the final question: Will there be a follow-up with Pablo? 

Alex: Pablo has since been sold to a new owner so there will unfortunately be no follow-up with him.

However, we’re planning a spin-off with Charles de Carpentier, an aristocratic flamingo from the Camargue, or Bryndis Petersdottir the unicorn who is repeatedly spotted in Western Iceland. The contractual negotiations are under way. 

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