In a fresh series of Capital One ads from DDB Chicago that broke over the weekend, Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson and the newly minted Round Mound of Sit Around (aka Charles Barkley) hit the highway again for the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four.
These guys famously traded quips in a similar campaign last year that earned two Clio Sports Awards. Lee directed those earlier commercials, and the new flight as well.
By now the three amigos have grown so close, they can finish each other's sentences (somewhat) and have even begun dressing alike (which is to say badly)—or as Slam-Chunk (Barkley) would say, "Hashtag #Twinning!"
Later, Barkley confides that he's grown bored with his iconic nickname Sir Charles, so his traveling companions suggest some choice alternatives. ("Number 34 With Fries" sounds especially tasty.)
"It's honestly difficult to keep track of all the ad-libbing that happens when we're filming," Daniel McCaskey, vice president of brand strategy and advertising, tells Adweek. "We actually count on it when we're writing the scripts. Letting them be natural and play off of each other creates some of the most memorable moments we capture."
Barkley's inability to make baskets at a toll booth is a case in point. Lee and Jackson can barely hold it together as they mercilessly razz March Sadness and urge him to change his game:
Next, the guys give their vocal chords a time-warped workout by singing along to—of all things—Rupert Holmes' annoyingly addictive 1979 hit "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)":
"DDB explored a number of songs in several genres to find a quirky, catchy tune. 'Escape' checked the boxes," says McCaskey. "It's one of those guilty-pleasure tunes you can't help but sing along to. And, let's face it, it's humorously out of character for them to be caught singing it."
The client has gone down this road before, but the stars' undeniable chemistry and winning performances keep things moving in the right direction. They're not just spinning their wheels.
The push includes contests in which fans can win prizes, and social activations featuring GIFs from the commercials. Maroon 5 will also headline the Capital One Final Four Jam Fest in Houston on April 3. (Maybe they'll add "Escape" to the set list. Let's hope they don't.)
Agency: DDB Chicago
Client: Capital One
Executive Vice President, Chief Creative Officer: John Maxham
Group Creative Director, Art Director: Mike Ackerman
Group Creative Director, Copywriter: Travis Parr
Associate Creative Directors, Art Directors: Brant Herzer, Michael Rosenthal
Associate Creative Directors, Copywriters: Tyler Campbell, Carlos Rangel
Art Director: Brittany Druker
Copywriter: Sean Collander
Executive Vice President, Integrated Production Director: Diane Jackson
Executive Producer: Will St.Clair
Associate Producer: Jakub Zajaczkowski
Production Manager: Polly Poulos
Talent, Music Manager: Linda Bres
Director: Spike Lee
Production Company: Pony Show
Editor: Meg Kubicka, WhiteHouse Post
Executive Producer: Kristin Branstetter
Producer: Dawn Guzowski
Finishing Effects: Filmworkers
Visual Effects: Churchill Studios
Executive Producer: Derek DeBoard
Visual Effects Supervisor: Rob Churchill
Colorist: Fred Keller
Editor: Brian Gannon:
Audio Engineer: Nick Papaleo
Music: "Escape" by Rupert Holmes