This brand image commercial for Chrysler aired during the Golden Globes award show and beyond, and includes several period sequences with multiple film formats. The first-time commercial director, Adrien Brody, won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2002 for The Pianist. Brody also provided the voice-over.
Because Brody’s availability to us prior to shooting was very limited due to his prior commitments and our required schedule to meet the air-date, I had to work extremely close with the agency creative/art director and the production company to plan the multitude of considerations that needed attention.
Weather was a major challenge as we pushed ahead to shoot during the worst California rainstorm of the year in order to meet our deadline for network integration. At my suggestion, and as you’ll see, we decided to play into the rain and use it to our creative advantage to enhance the mood. This brand image commercial won a D Show Best of Show.
“Its time, once again, to arrive in style.”
This 4-minute branded content film for Ford Trucks directed by feature film and commercial director, Tony Kaye (American History X), involved shooting a “live” event on the streets of NYC the first week of January with professional bull riders bucking 1800-pound bulls in a specially built outdoor arena adjacent to Madison Square Garden. How’s that for outrageous? We shot multiple cameras including from the audience, 10 stories up in a nearby building, and inside the bull trailers. 125 tons of dirt, 24 angry bulls and 10 fearless riders.
In guerilla production style we also shot storytelling scenes with the bull riders and an armada of full-size F-150 and Super Duty Ford trucks pulling livestock trailers across the George Washington Bridge in “live” traffic, working our way down Broadway to Madison Square Garden stopping to shoot real-people reactions along the way and in Times Square. We shot over 40 hours of footage and 15,000 stills.
The budget was substantially less than if this would have been a television commercial project, plus I had to do substantial coordination with PBR (Professional Bull Riders) who controlled the bulls and “live” event. A significant contribution I made was writing a “blueprint” for the project called Production Outline and Guidelines. I structured this as a type of production treatment that would be user-friendly for the clients and branded entertainment account group for whom this was a very atypical project. This became the production treatment used by the production company. The film includes five original music scores.
This was the most successful promotion in Ford Truck history, with more that one million online views.
It was a wild ride, to say the least!
This full-length music video for a major underground hip-hop group based in Detroit (the underground hip-hop capital of the world) aired on MTV and BET, and was directed by music video and commercial director, Anthony Garth (The White Stripes). It started out as an under-the-radar, very low budget project for a Def On Demand media buy for Chevrolet using pick-up footage with a stock music track that needed a lot of help.
I challenged the writer and art director (and myself) to think bigger and make something out of this that would go way beyond agency and client expectations. An editor led us to the director who led us to the music group, which then led to a negotiation to produce the music video of this hit song without any lyric references to Chevrolet. The client liked the music video so much that we ended up cutting several commercials using this footage in addition to the originally requested web video.
My hip-hop debut was larger than life – at least for me.
Chevrolet has put its name on the most revered jersey in the history of global football. As part of a huge media initiative, this is the announcement to shout about it. In fact, to sing about it by transforming an old team chant into a global rallying cry.
This is a journey from 1889 to the present. It’s a tribute to the history of the Manchester United Football Club, including some of the club’s most illustrious legends, as told through the most recognizable soccer jersey in the world. There’s an escalating excitement that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.
The mood of this commercial is exuberant, gritty, heartfelt and most of all, fun. There is a cinematic sense of beauty, scale and emotional connection as people through the ages join a swelling sea of fans filling the streets of Manchester England. Filmed in the greater Manchester area including Old Trafford stadium. The new sponsorship jersey was under heavy security during shooting of the final shot.
This commercial was played on the JumboTron at “The Big House” football stadium at the University of Michigan (the largest stadium in America and second largest in the world) following a match between Manchester United and Real Madrid in front of over 109,300 fans – the largest soccer audience in U.S. history. Shirt Reveal became the most viewed, most liked, and most shared video in the histories of Chevrolet and Manchester United. This ManU epic commercial won a Clio Sports Bronze in the category of Partnerships, Sponsorships & Endorsements.
“Glory, Glory Man United….”
Chevrolet supports Manchester United. But even more important, it supports the people who love the game.
This global commercial has a striking level of reality that puts a relatable face on worldwide love for the game and a team. The dramatic moments with kids from around the world are both honest and exhilarating, with bare simplicity in a universal language – play.
Whether it’s the determination of an 11-year old proclaiming himself a striker for ManU or Wayne Rooney looking directly into the camera and declaring that he plays for us, there’s a compelling sense of humanity and purpose in focusing on individual children and groups of children who love to play the game. We connect with their power and joy. With their pride and loyalty. And we do it all over the world.
Shot in Barcelona Spain and Old Trafford stadium in Manchester England, the new sponsorship jersey was under heavy security during the shooting of several shots.
Inherent satisfaction of kids around the world all “playing” for the same team.
This is the lead commercial of a 7-commercial campaign for the launch of the re-engineered and redesigned Ford F-150 pickup truck. The graphically driven concept is based on a “rant” that visually shows the spoken word as “living” type integrated with graphic backgrounds and live-action vignettes of people interacting with the truck. Comedian and actor Denis Leary rants about the various capability stories of the towing, fuel economy, payload, safety, interior, and technology.
The group creative directors on this project who conceived the idea included me in their creative development to research a design path that was a complete departure from anything done previously by Ford Trucks. A significant contribution I made was leading an intensive effort of design research of various styles and executions followed by extensive design exploration with several visual effects companies prior to a formal bidding process. We then created a substantial post-production demo that evolved the idea to the point that it was a primary selling tool to agency management and clients.
This campaign aired heavily on Sunday football – Ford Truck “Joe” loves his Sunday football – and was a huge success for the client that spawned several other similar campaigns for Ford Trucks. You can view the other five commercials in the campaign on the Vault page.
Clearly, this was one of the most satisfying experiences of my career.
First Citizens Bank
This 3-spot campaign is part of a complete brand identity makeover for a large publicly traded but family-run banking corporation that wants to have a stronger presence in their markets. Each commercial is a situational character story that could be real, but uses actors.
Genuine and authentic. Not over-designed. Not glossy. Just a naturalistic feel of real life being captured in real environments – a cinematic approach using mostly ambient light. A sense of real people doing real things grounded in the reality of everyday life.
Licensed songs complement the excellent straight-ahead storytelling featuring a different banking product in each commercial. Shot on location in North Carolina to take advantage of the distinct visual environment for their primary audience.
Emotive and poignant storytelling at its best.
This film introduces the reengineered Ram truck. We shot in the Chrysler Tech Center and Design Center at their World Headquarters in Michigan with co-directors shooting two cameras each in the areas of engine build, dynamometer, transmission, wind tunnel, road garage and design center. The voice announcer is actor Sam Elliott.
It may sound boring, but it’s far from it. This film is as much about heart, desire, conviction and fight as it is about horsepower, torque, gear ratios and volumetric efficiency.
“This is where passion trumps logic.”
Ram Commercial Trucks
This film for Ram Commercial Trucks is anything but typical. It’s not just about metal, rubber, combustion, torque and towing. It’s about people, jobs, talent, commitment, standards, and legacy.
Shot in various industrial locations with employees not actors, these vehicles give their drivers and workforce the ability to do more, be more, see more, tackle more and deliver more. For Ram, lifestyle and brand attributes are inseparable. We shot about 30 hours of footage in three days with loosely planned storylines and three cameras always rolling. Intensity personified. The voice announcer is actor Sam Elliott.
“Innovation doesn’t accept checks. It has to be paid for in sweat.”
GM Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles
Let’s be honest. We’ve all told that white lie, held back information, or made an excuse as we navigate our way through life. It’s part of being human – an insight that makes confessions both charming and relatable.
The humor of this web film unfolds from the sincerity and brutal honesty of the confessor. In the end, we smile and nod in agreement because in some slight way we see ourselves in the attitude of the character.
An unguarded honesty and vulnerability connects the audience to the character. This trust is essential toward creating the sensibility that he is confessing to someone near and dear.
A simple idea and simple storytelling with a bit of…well…extreme honesty.
Episodic Web Film
Global Ford Ranger
A Thailand jungle on the border of Burma…24 nonstop hours of high RPM and constant heat under extreme conditions…and a global Ford Ranger midsize pickup truck…
This is where the control of science meets the unrelenting entropy of the real world.
This jungle course presents a great variable – one that makes the outcome of the test anything but sure. The test pushed the envelope of the Ranger’s capability, but with understated confidence that the engineering of the truck would become evident as it meets the challenge.
Ford engineers measured every response and processed every new wrinkle as it developed during the 24-hour testing of Ranger’s heat management through an advanced engine cooling system, putting the engine components under great stress including the hauling of up to six tons by the end of this extreme endurance test.
All the data points were captured as they emerged through customized on-set photography, clearly defining rich motion graphics realized in post-production for this episodic campaign of four web films.
The Science of Tough.
Global Ford Ranger
Deep in a massive limestone quarry in northern Thailand…
Can the global Ford Ranger haul as much raw rock in one day as a large quarry hauler?
Raw limestone is big, heavy, sharp and dangerous. This is why a rock quarry is the perfect environment to show off the massive low-end torque and towing power of the Ranger. As the truck blazes up and down the quarry road for hours racing the sun, the steep grade will push the truck to its limits as it tows thousands of kilos of knife sharp, dark-gray rock from the quarry.
Motion graphics mined from the real-time data of the strain gauges and diagnostic gear show the amount of torque happening during each pull to test the Ranger to extreme limits.
The Science Of Tough episodic campaign of four web films offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate the global Ford Ranger’s engineering and performance advantages through a series of real-world “super experiments” that go far beyond the com¬fort of the proving ground.
Tough Done Smarter.
This very moving film for the U.S. Navy was created for exclusive airing in movie theaters. Against the backdrop of a majestic original score we used extensive journalistic footage in conjunction with the footage we shot to present a strong integrated effort by the U.S. Navy that goes beyond traditional military action. The voice announcer is actor David Keith.
The efforts supported are global relief for hunger and medical care, and domestic disaster rescue operations in addition to technical research and development, and special ops training.
“If you want to do great things in your world, spend some time in ours.”
This poignant commercial directed by feature film and commercial director, Robert Lieberman (D3: The Mighty Ducks, Fire in the Sky), with an unnamed member of the U.S. Ski Team was a huge departure from other Chevy Truck commercials based on the hit song “Like a Rock” by Bob Seger, in that it features storytelling lyrics never previously (or since) used in Chevy Truck advertising. The voice announcer is actor James Coburn.
The story depicts a difficult moment in the life of a developing skier. Prior to shooting, the skier told us that our commercial actually paralleled her life growing up. Serendipity made real. Cue the emotion meter.
“20 years now…where’d they go…“
This product launch for the Chevrolet SSR retro design uses vintage concert footage of several music artists whose songs have direct lyrical ties to Chevrolet. Audience singing shots (especially with any mention of Chevy or Chevrolet) and reaction shots needed to be recreated to match film stock, grain texture, camera angles and lighting as well as period wardrobe, hair styles, etc. The voice announcer is actor Jeffrey Wright.
A painstaking process of research, licensing, and meticulous detail work to recreate and converge all the elements to match in a seamless musical and visual effort up to the present-day when the new vehicle is revealed in a back alley at a concert via the POV of The Artist Formerly Known As leaving the venue through a backstage door to drive off.
Great artists need great inspiration.
This was the lead commercial in a 4-commercial campaign directed by feature film and commercial director, Dominic Sena (Gone in 60 Seconds), to launch this redesigned light duty pickup truck. Other campaigns in this design format followed, all of which took their cues from this first commercial. Highly choreographed drama with relentless motion was the key. The set details for this commercial are amazing, including a fully decorated art deco ceiling. And, yes, this actor really did…. The voice announcer is singer/songwriter/actor Kris Kristofferson.
All the stunts for each commercial were performed in camera based on real people doing what they do best. As you view the ah-ha moment the voice-over says, “Meet [name goes here]. This is what he does, this is what he drives.” Total attitude.
This commercial won a Clio Silver in the category of Television/Cinema for Sound Design as well as an International Automotive Advertising Awards Gold for the campaign and a D Show Best of Show. You can view two of the other commercials in this first campaign on the Vault page.
Proof that mayhem can be cool.
This well-written and touching 3-minute marketing promotion film featuring employees and real patients needed to have the same creative sense and quality level of production as their TV commercials, but for a substantially lower budget. The story is based on relational connectedness.
We used a very small crew with the director also editing and finishing the film himself at an in-house studio of the production company. The voice announcer is actress Allison Janney.
…a noble purpose and worthy cause…
Corporate Re-Branding Video
Have you ever heard of the “First Follower?” The story goes like this. There’s a man dancing, wildly, in a park. On his own he looks like a crazy person…until someone joins in. Suddenly, the dancing man doesn’t look so crazy anymore. As it turns out, he’s not out of step with the surrounding culture. He harnessed the transforming power of those who can help him achieve his goal.
In addition to producing this project as the agency producer, I was also the shoot producer and assistant director, both of which were new for me. A film crew of 24 – only eight of which had ever worked on a film production. Four cameras including aerial. One professional choreographer and one lead dancer. Eight primary student dancers. Fifty non-professional crowd extras who were enlisted to join the movement. And a lot of tenacity and passion by everyone involved in this adventure.
The creative and logistical challenge was creating high quality work on a very limited budget using a grassroots approach that didn’t involve the layers of an advertising agency and client structure in the traditional sense. It was a breath of fresh air for me to help shape the idea from concept to execution and mold the story with the film director more than I typically have the opportunity to do.
Constant refinement of connected thinking to forge a new dance.
This dynamic 3-minute brand showcase film directed by feature film and commercial director, Zack Snyder (Justice League, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Man of Steel, 300), was shot in and around Marrakech Morocco using footage from one of three commercials shot for a product promotion for the Chevy Tracker called “Where’s the Tracker?” All the urban shots were loosely choreographed to catch real moments using real people from the open-air marketplace souks.
In the corresponding commercials, location clues were provided by the voice-over against the backdrop of stunning storytelling scenes of each historic location. Viewers could register their location guesses for a chance to win a vehicle. The locations of the other two commercials in the campaign are the ruins of Emperor Hadrian’s villa outside of Rome Italy and the small but regal and fully functional 13th century city of Cesky Krumlov in the south bohemian region of the Czech Republic. You can view all three commercials on the Vault page.
Chevy Tracker Gets Around – as did we on this multi-country jaunt.