The whole cast of the Durex Do Not Disturb commercial shoot in Sri Lanka

So, you may remember that we took a sudden, last minute trip to Sri Lanka a few months back. We chalked it up to needing a little tropical weather in the midst of the cold, dreary London winter. We wrote about touring a batik studio and our stay at the oceanfront Suriya Resort. All of that did happen, and the beach weather was a nice reprieve from London, but frankly, that is not why we went to Sri Lanka.

It was all a cover story for our real reason for jetting off across the globe for a 6 day holiday: we were cast to be part of the Durex Do Not Disturb global ad campaign. Weird, but true.

 

Now, for a little background about how the hell this happened.

At the tail end of January, we were contacted by a production company out of the blue, asking if we were free in February and willing to travel to Sri Lanka to film an advert. They got our contact info from a friend of a friend, and were looking specifically for locally-based foreign couples. We had to create a short video of ourselves answering some questions they provided.

After making the first cut, we headed into the Chelsea film production studio for a casting interview. We learned during that meeting that the advert was for Durex Do Not Disturb, and they were looking for couples for their upcoming campaign. They were looking for real people, so we didn’t have to act (thank god), they simply asked us a few more questions about us, our relationship, and a few random questions about our use of technology (phones, computers, cameras, etc) while on vacation. Simple enough.

About a week later, we got the notice that we had made the final cut, and that we were heading to Sri Lanka in less than two weeks, along with 5 other couples. Details were scarce, but they did mention that we would have a few filming engagements per day, but they made sure to add in some free time for us to relax.

Some of the cast with a producer during the Durex Do Not Disturb commercial shoot in Sri Lanka

So, after a 12 hour flight from London, we landed in Colombo, met the part of the local film crew, and began our first foray into film production.

The shooting began on the second day, as we were transported from a nearby hotel to the Suriya Resort, where we would stay for the duration of the shoot. We arrived, had microphones strapped to us, and then quickly backtracked out of the property to film our arrival. We circled the parking lot and pulled up again, this time with a full crew waiting for us.

The cameras were always close by during the Durex Do Not Disturb commercial shoot in Sri Lanka
Camera crew on the boat during the Durex Do Not Disturb commercial shoot in Sri Lanka

As you noticed in the YouTube clip, the premise of the ad is how technology can affect a relationship. You also may have seen the stunned looks on faces when people were told that their technology was being confiscated. Their reactions were 100% genuine, as the production company had kept that little twist secret from us until that very moment, all conveniently captured on film. The trick was that 3 of the couples got to keep their tech, and 3 couples lost it.

We got to keep all of our electronic goodies, which was slightly painful as we had to watch the staff take the other couples’ computers, cameras, and phones right there on the spot, not to be returned until the end of the week. TVs disappeared from rooms, and one couple even had their digital clock on the bed stand taken. Without watches, they had to call the front desk whenever they needed to know the time. Fortunately, they were able to borrow our watches to make things a little easier for them.

Camera crew on the beach during the Durex Do Not Disturb commercial shoot in Sri Lanka

The days were very loosely structured, with a few specific call times for each couple per day, either for shooting a particular scene or for a more personal interview. We went on excursions as well, including the batik studio, which was a blast, despite being surrounded by a crew of about 10 people, following our every move.

Our downtime was spent by the pool, though cameramen roamed the grounds all day, so you were bound to be caught on film most of the time. Outside of our call times, we were typically always on microphone, so any conversations we had, whether we were sunbathing in a cabana or enjoying a meal, could be overheard by the crew.

The crew certainly got more than few funny interactions from us and the other couples as we all quickly forgot that we were on mic.

Filming at a batik studio during the Durex Do Not Disturb commercial shoot in Sri Lanka

Overall, it was definitely one of the more bizarre weeks of our lives. It was a blast, yet totally foreign at the same time. We were shocked about the logistics involved in shooting something as seemingly simple as an advert. With a huge crew of 30, 6 days filming 6 couples for almost 18 hours per day, the final cut is just a few minutes long.

We had a fantastic time with our cast mates, aided by the nightly consumption of tropical, fruity drinks at the outdoor bar. We learned recently that our ad will be part of a global marketing push, and that commercials will be appearing on TV in dozens of countries around the world.

So next time you turn on the TV, and the Durex Do Not Disturb ad comes up, keep an eye out for us!

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  • May 25, 2016

    Delighted to be a part of this with you guys 🙂
    Stefan recently posted…Geisha makeover in Tokyo, a must do for men and womenMy Profile

    • May 25, 2016
      Julie

      What an adventure, Stefan! We had such a great time and now it’s locked online forever 🙂

  • May 25, 2016

    What a great opportunity! And an interesting experiment. I travel with nothing more technological than an old iPod, and I’m constantly amazed by people who have spent thousands of dollars to go somewhere and never look up from their glowing triangles.
    Stephen Garone recently posted…Art Deco Delights in Napier, New ZealandMy Profile

    • May 25, 2016
      Julie

      It was such an interesting experiment, and all real, I might add. We (with tech) ended up on our stuff all the time because we’re reading our books or taking photos, it’s really eye opening to see it unfold. Made us think twice about all of our electronics, that’s for sure!

  • May 28, 2016

    LOL, the faces of bloggers with confiscated technology would be priceless. What a great opportunity to get to visit Sri Lanka and a fun promotion to be part of.
    Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers recently posted…Taronga Zoo SydneyMy Profile

    • May 30, 2016
      Julie

      haha – yeah, fortunately, only one other couple was a blogging couple, but we took plenty of pictures for them so they would have them later!

  • May 28, 2016

    LOVE this! I had heard about the campaign from Stefan but hadn’t seen the actual ad yet – I think it’s actually a luxury to be offline these days, and I think that definitely comes through in the ad … as much as I love my technology :D!
    Meg Jerrard recently posted…Camping 101: What to Pack for an Australian Camping AdventureMy Profile

    • May 30, 2016
      Julie

      Yes! Stefan and Seb were there (totally unrelated, we heard about this completely unrelated to the blog). It’s so well done, and really interesting to be part of a film production. Totally new to us!

  • May 28, 2016

    I love this! It’s so random but awesome that you guys got chosen. Love the ad
    Claire recently posted…Hotel Review: Alisea Boutique HotelMy Profile

    • May 30, 2016
      Julie

      We can’t get away from the ad now 🙂 Every time I go on YouTube, the cookies remember me and play it over and over again!

  • May 28, 2016

    How absolutely fun (and slightly strange)!!! I would have gotten myself into a lot of trouble being on a mic 24/7 though! What a great experience for you all though. My husband and I almost exclusively travel together and LOVE it and I’m not going to lie, sometimes it is the locations that you can’t use wifi, etc that are the most peaceful and amazing
    LeAnna Brown recently posted…The Best Travel Hacking Tool AvailableMy Profile

    • May 30, 2016
      Julie

      Now that we’ve been on a tech-heavy holiday, I am interested in trying one tech-free (though it makes me nervous too!). It certainly got me thinking and those tech-free couples did have a good time without all the gadgets!

  • May 28, 2016

    Really exciting. That must have been the experience of a lifetime. You said bizarre, but did you guys enjoy it? Do you see yourself doing something like this again?
    Travelwith2ofus recently posted…The most beautiful cruise ship ports in the CaribbeanMy Profile

    • May 30, 2016
      Julie

      We told the film crew that we would happily be token Americans whenever needed. It was really, really fun, and I kinda loved witnessing film production in all its glory!

  • May 29, 2016

    I love it when I go traveling one day and then a TV crew appears in front of your face and ask me to star in it. That what happened a few years ago for TUI/Thomson at one of their hotels – filming a tv advertisement. It was crazy. And to read this post, kinda brought back some memories 😀 Great post guys 🙂

    • May 30, 2016
      Julie

      See? It really happens randomly and to anyone. haha. Love your story!

  • May 30, 2016

    Wow. Now that’s one unique experience if you ask me! A check off of your bucket list 😉 Haha. I would love to see the final ad once it’s out!
    Aileen Adalid recently posted…A Memorable Stay: The ‘Suite Life’ at Dusit Thani Manila, PhilippinesMy Profile

    • May 30, 2016
      Julie

      The YouTube video is up (linked in the post) but the ad campaign will be a shorter version of that, almost everywhere in the world we hear. Yikes!

  • May 30, 2016

    This looks like so much fun!! Congratulations on appearing in an ad, I’m sure this was an experience to remember. It never fails to boggle my mind as well- how much effort it takes to shoot a video.
    Mar Pages recently posted…The mystic world of Banyan Tree Lang CoMy Profile

    • May 30, 2016
      Julie

      What’s funny is that we make some short travel videos ourselves, which are of course totally amateur. The real pro version is crazy difficult. Hundreds of hours of footage for 2 minutes. Literally!

  • June 1, 2016

    What an awesome – and completely random – experience! I would have hated to be the one who had the technology confiscated… particularly in such a beautiful place – I would have killed just to keep my camera!

    • June 1, 2016

      luckily, we kept our stuff, so we took plenty of pictures! We even made sure to take some selfies of the other non-tech couples, so they could have some pics from their holiday!

  • July 8, 2016
    Pete Bateson

    Hi Drew and Julie. Great to read how you got cast for the film! I really enjoyed meeting you guys whilst we shot the film in beautiful Sri Lanka! I was wondering if you’d be able to send me some copies of the photos you took of me filming you? I didn’t get much time to take any pics, and it’s always difficult to get some of yourself working! Hope you are well! Cheers Pete

  • January 15, 2017

    This is wild! What a fun (and odd) experience it must have been. Just seeing this post now, thanks to your year-end recap =)
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted…Bon Bini, Willemstad! Meet the World’s Most Colorful CityMy Profile

    • January 17, 2017

      Being on camera for 12 hours a day, reality TV style, was rather bizarre. But it was certainly a unique and fun experience. The ad is now appearing on TV in some markets. I had some friends from Finland text me saying they saw us on TV from their apartments in Helsinki. It was certainly a unique experience, that’s for sure.