The new ad is one of two Calabash collaborated on with Harrisburg, PA-based agency Quency. Stair Climb 500 is currently airing; a second spot will break later this year.
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Source: Calabash Animation
Calabash Animation was recently tasked with bringing to life Charlie the Tuna, Starkist’s 60-year-old brand icon. The newest ad, Stair Climb 500, finds Charlie assuming the persona of a sports announcer (complete with an outsize microphone), providing a running commentary on a busy mom’s day as she climbs the household stairs around the house. “How does she do it?” Charlie asks. The answer, naturally, is by refueling with Starkist Tuna, chicken, and salmon pouches.
“The scene where she high-fives with Charlie was the most challenging, but thanks to our compositing experience with the Charlie character, the final shot was flawless,” added Brejecha.
“We’ve worked on many Starkist ads with Charlie, but each time it always feels fresh and new as we animate new actions for Charlie,” commented Calabash creative director Wayne Brejcha. “In this one, he swims alongside the actress as she hurries up the stairs and high-fives with her. The pandemic made it necessary to work remotely, so the animators were never all together in the same room. We managed the project on Slack. The animation rig for Charlie is always a challenge, but our animators came up to speed quickly.”
Brejecha further praised the actor for a good job performing with an animated character. Aided by an actual-size stand-in print of Charlie, the director was able to compose the shot with the actor looking at where the animated Charlie’s eye-line would be in the finished spot.

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