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Anatomy of a TV ad 2: Hardheaded

If you enjoyed the previous Anatomy of a TV ad: Train Danger (click here to read it)

you'll likely enjoy this one as well.

This TV ad was particularly challenging, but primarily because of how we wanted it to look.

The purpose of the ad is to underscore the risk retail store owners/managers undertake when giving employees money deposit bags to run to their nearest bank branch...and the benefits of using our client's armed courier service instead.

Before we get into the details of HOW it was should see the ad first. So take a look, and then enjoy the details of how it was put together.

When writing the storyboard, in our minds we kept seeing the grocery/department store manager's office slightly elevated so he could oversee the operation and always be 'handing down' instructions to his employees.

We felt it was important that the manager come across as an uncaring, relatively unhappy overlord who ruled his world with little appreciation or care for his underlings. Local actor and acting teacher Christopher Stevens delivered the part to perfection. We wanted the employee he 'recruited' for the bank run to be very girl next door with a vulnerable look. Local actor and drama teacher Taylor Lindsey was exceptional. FYI, in real life she is anything but vulnerable, just ask her kickboxing coach. We also needed an active grocery/department store we could take over for the shoot.

Now, knowing all of that. Here were our problems:

  • There was no available active grocery/department store we could use for interior and exterior shots. After all, what store would want to be featured with an uncaring manager sending an employee on a mission that ends with an attack?

  • And despite our best efforts, we couldn't find an elevated office platform for the manager to oversee from...or from the employee to look up to.

Regardless, it's what we wanted for the ad....and we're hardheaded...….so, what to do?

Enter some creative camera angles, green screen magic, sound effects, music, and more.

Management of a local finance company was kind enough to allow us to use their counter as it was similar to the look/feel we wanted.

Seen here is the counter with the green screen in front of it, for the opening shot from the manager's point of view overlooking the store...and the post-edit shot using the green screen editing tool and fake store video foreground.

Here is the counter with the green screen behind the manager, and the camera lowered a great deal to create the illusion of an elevated manager's office....followed by the post-edit shot featuring a fake office background we created in photoshop and the manager 'handing down' the money deposit bag.

Here's Lindsey literally on her knees to create the illusion of a higher counter, receiving the bag, with post edit fake floor in the background.

Next we wanted the employee leaving the store to go to her car - where we'd stage the thief taking the money bag. Problem was...again, what up & running store would be okay with featuring something like that. Fortunately, there was a local locked up & out-of-business store that would serve the purpose. To make it look busy, the manager from the finance company, available actors, and agency folks stood in as extras and made it look as though shoppers were leaving, customers were pulling in, etc...takes a little orchestration to make it happen, but it worked......

As for the 'attack', we wanted to be sudden and effective, but not overdone - these types of incidents are very difficult to make look we chose to show just a sudden appearance of a hooded figure, the reaction, and then the struggle from the street/foot level perspective, leaving the rest to the viewer's imagination.

The remainder of the ad features positive shots of the client's armed courier service, etc. All pretty basic shots to reinforce the message and generate a call to action. After all, who wants to be the terrible boss/manager who sends his employees into risky situations? Call the armed courier service instead!

Another part of these projects are the overlooked SOUND/AUDIO segments. From the background 'shopper' noise at the store, to the filtered 'telephone-over-the-speaker' sound of the manager asking 'Ashley' to come to the traffic sounds outside the store, to the car alarm beep, the scuffle, dropped keys, and the stifled scream.....all are added afterward with sound effects to fill out the well as appropriate music, and well timed orchestral hits to underscore critical moments. These all work together to create the finished project. We also purposefully desaturated the colors in the store setting, and added a fluorescent light filter to give it a stark contrast/horror movie feel as well....which then transitioned to the positive part of the ad, with all colors natural with a much warmer filter used.

This was another fun project for us, and the combination of all of the elements make for a pretty convincing moment. We hope you enjoyed the back story.

We have several other ads we have produced that were creative and complex and hopefully you will find the stories about how we put them together informative and entertaining.


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