Helensburgh surfer stars in national TV advert


A screen grab of the surfer group in the TV ad.
A screen grab of the surfer group in the TV ad.

What have a shepherd on Mull, a fisherman on Iona, a band from across the isles and some surfers on Tiree got in common?

They, and many more of their fellow islanders and visitors, will proudly take centre stage in Caledonian MacBrayne’s 2015 promotional campaign CalMac and Friends, which kicks off with the first TV screening on Monday (May 11) at 8.45pm on STV during Coronation Street.

Gavin in action on Tiree

And, included in the surfer footage, shot at Balevullin Bay is Gavin Dunlop from Lorne Street in Helensburgh.

With strong connections to the Isle of Tiree, famed the world over for its surf, 25-year-old Gavin, a former pupil of Lomond School, and three other friends join the ‘cast’ of ordinary folk.

The campaign gives real islanders the chance to reach out a welcoming hand to their fellow Scots and visitors from further afield.

“The opportunity came the day I got back to Tiree after a spell away,” said Gavin, who works as head instructor for Wild Diamond watersports and is currently living on Tiree. “And a few of my friends mentioned they were doing a short clip for CalMac involving surfing. I was all ears, and, being part of the surfing community, I thought it would fun experience to show off what the island has to offer.

“Unfortunately the ocean was flat for the shoot but the weather was amazing. The filming was great fun, nothing too serious, we all had a good laugh and it was a beautiful evening to be down at the beach. The singing part was a little unexpected!

“All in all I think it’ll be great for the Hebrides and Scotland in general.”

Unlike many promotional campaigns, there was no need to use actors – the islanders themselves were eager to step forward and threw themselves into it with passion and enthusiasm. Their message is loud, sincere and clear: ‘We love these islands, and so will you!’.

Using the music of Britpop group Supergrass, Scottish group Macanta – with members drawn from Harris, Mull, Orkney and Glasgow – add a Celtic twist to the huge hit Alright, which becomes a winding path through just some of what the islands have to offer, with the islanders themselves singing the words. Filmed on Mull, Iona, Tiree, and in Oban, it was an opportunity to involve communities and gives them a voice to be heard.

And they come from all walks of life – the former Greenock undertaker who has returned to his native Tiree, the Mull shepherd who is already famous for his singing prowess, the Iona fisherman who proudly only sells his catch to hotels on his home island, the former Indie band member who left Glasgow for a quieter life, the Gaelic choir with its Royal National Mod medal winners… and the last peat-cutter on Mull.

“We have literally put this year’s campaign in the hands of the communities we serve,” said CalMac’s head of marketing, Peter Griffiths.

“There was no need to cajole anyone, they were really excited about it and we got a great response.

“It’s not a slick corporate presentation, it’s all about the people who depend on CalMac’s lifeline services to sustain their lives basically saying this is who we are, come and see us.”

The 30-second advert, along with a full three-minutes short film of the whole Alright song, with more special views and island characters, can be viewed from Monday May 11 at www.calmac.co.uk/friends