Whimsy Defines Y&R’s Chevron Campaign

NEW YORK The TV piece of Chevron’s global corporate image campaign broke this week with three spots from Young & Rubicam that were shot in five countries over eight days.

The spots, which were directed by Joe Pytka and are part of an estimated $30-40 million effort, use metaphors to illustrate the energy issues facing not just the oil company but the world.

Each spot, like previous print, outdoor and Web ads, ends with an invitation to a Web site (www.willyoujoinus.com) where consumers can share thoughts about the issues. “Human energy” is the tagline.

A spot called “Manhole Cover” depicts two helmeted laborers measuring the supply of oil in a desert, with one inserting a giant dipstick into a manhole while the other eats his lunch. “Some say that by 2020, we will have used half the world’s oil. Some say we already have,” says a male voiceover. “Making the other half last longer will take innovation, conservation and collaboration. Will you join us?”

Another spot, about wind power, follows the flight of a derby after a strong breeze blows it off the head of a man sitting on a park bench in Paris. “Wind power alone can’t do it all,” the narrator says. “Because just to power a city like Paris would take 20,000 turbines.” The spot ends with an image of the Eiffel Tower with a giant propeller on it.

The third spot depicts a steady stream of baby carriages in myriad settings around the world, from the parking lot outside Giants Stadium in New Jersey to the circle outside the Colosseum in Rome. The carriages represent the world’s growing population and the strain it will place on sources of energy.

“We’re presenting serious issues but doing it metaphorically and whimsically,” said Michael Patti, global creative director at WPP’s Y&R in New York. “So it’s warm and inviting.”

Patti, who has worked with Pytka dozens of times in the past 20 years, chose him because he’s “great” at capturing a “sense of whimsy.” He added: “You can’t put those issues out there like it’s a life and death issue. You’ve got to hook them.”

Pytka, in turn, was drawn by Chevron’s big picture look to energy concerns. “It’s about all of us, everything,” said Pytka. “I hope that more stuff like this is done.”

The art director was Gabe Hoskins, and the copywriter, Darren Moran. Rich Rosenthal was the producer. The spots will air in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and Australia.

The “Human energy” campaign began in July with print ads, billboards and the Web site, which was created by Y&R sister shop Wunderman. The global effort is expected to continue into next year.