Xfinity Pranked a Couple of Fast and Furious Superfans With This Crazy, Fiery Surprise Stunt Drive

Adweek's view from the set

Would it be hyperbolic to say that a couple of Fast and Furious fans are taking the ride of their lives in this new mini-movie for Xfinity?

Sure, but it’s true, unless these two adventurous movie lovers somehow ever find themselves in an actual—not a carefully staged—high-speed car chase with fiery explosions, airborne vehicles and nitrous oxide.

The participants thought they were seeing a sneak preview of the upcoming action flick, The Fate of the Furious, when in fact they ended up re-creating a scene from the Universal Pictures release, complete with stunt drivers who worked on the film and vintage American muscle cars used in the famous franchise.

Their reactions don’t disappoint. But the question remains: How in the world did they not spill their popcorn?

The two-and-a-half-minute spot, from ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners, adds some layers of complexity to the typical punk’d-style video by shooting in a single take, with no computer-generated effects, and mirroring step by step what viewers will see on the big screen when The Fate of the Furious opens April 14.

But don’t fret: No contest winners were harmed in the making of this commercial.

“If you’re going to do a prank these days, it has to be epic,” said Sherri Davis, Xfinity’s senior director of brand experience. “And we’re promoting a new service with over-the-top ridiculous speed, so this made perfect sense.”

Xfinity is using the movie, from its Comcast sibling Universal, to help launch the new ultra-high-speed broadband, Gigabit Internet Service, which Davis said cried out for “a chase scene to illustrate something that’s tough to describe and better to show.”

The fans, chosen from more than 3,000 entries via social media, won a trip to Los Angeles, a day at Universal Studios and what they thought was a “drive-in” sneak peek of the film.

"The brand is committed to doing more nontraditional work because it gives people a chance to interact with the brand in different ways."
-Sherri Davis, Xfinity senior director of brand experience

Adweek visited the set, which was a sprawling power plant near the port of Long Beach, where the fans went into a warehouse, equipped with a massive film screen, and sat in Fast and Furious hero cars, a red Corvette Stingray and a Plymouth GTX. Just as they settled in with their popcorn to watch bits of the movie, the action started IRL.

Their seatmates, ostensibly fellow fans but actually professional stunt drivers, handed them helmets, revved the engines and kicked off a chase that mimicked the movie’s adrenaline-packed cat-and-mouse pursuit through the streets of Manhattan.

“I feel like you’re in on this,” screamed unwitting but quick-on-the-uptake passenger Michele Fisher to her driver as the race began. What followed, for both fans, was a lot of yelling, smiling, swearing and laughing.

“We had told them it was a drive-in, but it was really a drive-out,” Laura Petruccelli, GS&P’s associate creative director, told Adweek during one of the daylong rehearsals before the shoot. “We wanted the chase to begin with them crashing through the wall of the warehouse.”

That wall was fake, as was the scaffolding and the flower shop that got destroyed during the rubber-burning melee.

See the behind-the-scenes video here:

In the film, Vin Diesel’s character, Dominic Toretto, has gone rogue, and his colleagues try to catch him during a penultimate four-wheeled scene. There are harpoons involved, but those couldn’t get approved for the ad campaign. Pieces of the movie are woven into the commercial to show how closely it replicates the flick.

Each car had five GoPro cameras to capture the fans’ shock and awe, while drones flew overhead and multiple cameras picked up each stage of the chase.

The goal was “eyeballs big, jaws dropping to the floor,” said the director, Jeff Tremaine, a filmmaker, TV and commercial producer whose credits include the Jackass franchise. “The key is to make it appear reckless while being completely safe. You’re going for a real reaction, so it has to be kind of terrifying. You want to feel their surprise and energy and joy.”

"You're going for a real reaction, so it has to be kind of terrifying. You want to feel their surprise and energy and joy."
-Director Jeff Tremaine

Xfinity execs said they heavily vetted the participants ahead of time, making sure they were physically and mentally ready for a heart-pounding ride, without giving them any details of what was to come.

Fisher, from Philadelphia, is a frequent Tough Mudder contestant, and Joey Mysliwiec, of Chicago, is a skydiver. They both made it through the prank with smiles on their faces, even when their souped-up rides barely (intentionally) missed a gasoline tanker truck and gunned through a series of fireballs (meticulously planned and tested pyrotechnics).

They held onto their popcorn even when the Nos kicked in.

The video debuts Wednesday on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the movie franchise’s massive social media feeds, and it’s part of Xfinity’s new dive into experiential marketing.

“For the last year, we’ve had a dedicated budget for experiential,” Davis said. “The brand is committed to doing more nontraditional work because it gives people a chance to interact with the brand in different ways.”

CREDITS
Client: Comcast – Xfinity
SVP, Brand Marketing: Todd Arata
Senior Director, Brand Experience: Sherri Davis
Senior Manager, Brand Experience: Catherine Huffman
Campaign: XFINITY Fast & Furious 8 Drive-Out Cinema

Title of Creative Work: XFINITY Fast & Furious 8 Drive-Out Cinema

Ad Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Creative
Co-chairman: Jeff Goodby, Rich Silverstein
Chief Creative Officer/Partner: Margaret Johnson
Creative Directors: Jeff Gillette, Jens Waernes, Jon Wolanske
Associate Creative Directors: Rohan Cooke and Laura Petruccelli
Copywriters: Laura Petruccelli and Craig Shervin
Art Directors: Rohan Cooke, Charles Lee and Louis Xinran Li

Production
Director of Broadcast Production: Tod Puckett
Executive Broadcast Producer: James Horner
Broadcast Producer: Stephanie DeNatale
Assistant Broadcast Producer: Samantha Tarde

Account Services
Managing Partner: Leslie Barrett
Group Account Director: Jason Bedecarre
Account Director: Georgia Newton
Account Manager: Perry Kayla Fox
Asst. Account Manager: Emily Kelly

Brand Strategy
Group Brand Strategy Director: John Thorpe
Brand Strategy Director: Andrew Mak

Business Affairs
Director of Business Affairs: Judy Ybarra
Business Affairs Associate Manager: Rodney Hameroff

Production Company
Production Company: HeLo
Director: Jeff Tremaine
Executive Producer/Co-Founder: Justin Moore-Lewy
Gorilla Flicks Executive Producer: Shanna Newton
Managing Director/Co-Founder: Brendan Kiernan
Executive Producer: Andrew Oppenheimer
Line Producer: Tina Nakane
Director of Photography: Wyatt Troll
Production Designer- Robb Buono
SFX Supervisor- Jim Schwalm
Stunt Coordinator- Oakley Lehman

Editorial
Cut+Run
Editor: Pete Koob
Assistant Editors: Christopher Kasper and Andy Berner
Managing Director: Michelle Eskin
Executive Producer: Deanne Mehling
Producer: Sara Stasinos

Color Grade
Company 3
Colorist: Sean Coleman
Senior Producer: Matt Moran

Online
CT-SF
Executive Producer: Melanie Bass
Producer: Felicia Libby
Flame Artists: Zac Dych and David Valencic

Sound Design
LSD
Sound Designer: Michael Anastasi

Mix
Lime
Audio Mixer: Rohan Young
Audio Assistant: Ben Tomastik
Producer: Kayla Phungglan
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan

Graphics
Animator: Natasha Candelaria
Creative Director: Mike Landry
Executive Post Producer: John Dutton
Director of Post Production: Michael Damiani

—Behind the Scenes

Client: Comcast/Xfinity
SVP, Brand Marketing: Todd Arata
Executive Director, Social Marketing: Nader AliHassan
Manager, Brand Social Marketing: Cortney Boothman
Campaign: XFINITY Fast & Furious 8 Drive-Out Cinema Behind the Scenes
Campaign Website: Facebook.com/Xfinity

Production
Director of Broadcast Production: Tod Puckett
Executive Broadcast Producer: James Horner
Broadcast Producer: Stephanie DeNatale
Assistant Broadcast Producer: Samantha Tarde

Production Company
Production Company: HeLo
Camera Operator: Donny Anderson
Production Company: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Additional Camera Operator: Michael Miller
Additional Sound Mixer: Mark Sandhoff

Editorial/Online
Cut+Run
Managing Director: Michelle Eskin
Editor: Christopher Kasper
Executive Producer: Deanne Mehling
Producer: Sara Stasinos

Color Grade
Mission Film & Design
Colorist: Chris Martin

Sound Design/Mix
One Union
Sound Designer: Matt Wood
Audio Mixer: Matt Wood
Audio Assistant: Isaac Olsen
Producer: Cienna Patmont
Executive Producer: Lauren Mask

Graphics
Animator: Natasha Candelaria
Creative Director: Mike Landry
Executive Post Producer: John Dutton
Director of Post Production: Michael Damiani