Cycling Saga Continues in Network’s New Effort

LOS ANGELES A three-spot campaign featuring footage of Lance Armstrong and promoting the Outdoor Life Network’s Tour de France coverage was conceived as the ongoing saga of a mad “prophet,” the campaign’s director said. The commercials are slated to run through the end of the race on July 26.

With actor Jason Lee (Almost Famous) starring as the cycling-infatuated prophet, the spots, conceived by creative directors Mike Bade and Jeff Weiss at Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson in New York, were directed by Andrews Jenkins for Food Chain Films at the historic Los Angeles Theatre. The campaign’s elaborately designed motion-graphics backdrop, with fiery tendrils and filtered biking footage, was created by Imaginary Forces to look as if the prophet is “organically motivating the effects,” explained Jenkins.

“We were trying to make disparate elements look visceral, engage you from the beginning and overtake the viewer,” said Ahmet Ahmet, Imaginary Forces cd. “The trick was to find the right elements and integrate them into a homogenous space.” Ahmet added that the effect was intended to be “organic and natural, yet also exciting and powerful.”

Jenkins said the spot could easily have been done by combining graphics created separately at Imaginary Forces with footage of Lee shot against a green screen. “But I wanted a big, Shakespearian performance,” explained Jenkins. “And green-screen effects can often feel as if they are coming out of a sterile environment. I thought Jason would play to the theater, and he said later that the space did help him.”

Jenkins, whose recent video for Korn (“Y’all Want a Single?”) has been touted by Howard Stern during his radio program, has directed spots featuring live-action narrative (Adidas’ “Speed” with Kobe Bryant) and comedy performance (ESPN Gameday), and was pleased to expand his repertoire with an effects-oriented spot. Jenkins recently moved from the Portland, Ore., office to Los Angeles, where he intends to continue “all kinds of work, from music videos to comedy and image campaigns.”