What do wiper blades have to do with the safety of your state's wild animals? Why does the Humane Society care about windshields in the first place? And how does a throwback music video powered by synth riffs and retro raps fit into the equation?
Turns out the Humane Society and Bosch North America share an interest in saving would-be roadkill and their glorious nuts/stink glands from drivers whose windshields aren't clear enough to see the road on dark, rainy nights.
Grey New York (part of Adweek's 2015 Global Agency of the Year network) recently collaborated with the auto parts manufacturer and the animal rights group to get to the heart—or at least, the anus—of the matter with a digital campaign and website called "Stop the Roadkill."
Rick Cusato, partner at Grey New York, tells AdFreak that the agency has worked with Bosch on various campaigns for several years, but "the category is low interest, and we wanted to think of a way to help people remember the importance of road safety."
They certainly got us to pay attention.
Oddly, the spot reminds us mostly of '80s music videos: It's like a cuddlier mashup of "Thriller" and the puppet-centric "Land of Confusion" by Genesis, which always scared the hell out of us as kids. (Have you forgotten creepy puppet Ronald Reagan? Didn't think so.)
The song wouldn't even sound out of place on your agency's 1986-themed holiday party mixtape. Catchy, wasn't it?
Cusato says Grey brought the Humane Society into the conversation after coming up with the music video PSA idea due to "a mutual end benefit," adding, "When we presented, they loved it."
The challenge here is that most drivers never think to change their wiper blades. By worming its way into their heads, the video's "Don't Be a Killer Car" hook might just inspire more car owners to think about getting new blades to protect both their families and whatever aspiring four-legged rappers might be waiting beside the road.
The campaign site also includes a bit of biographical information about each of the video's stars. Turns out Streetz the Skunk refused to leave the dangerous Foothill Lane area in order to solidify his cred while full-time student Francesca the Fox is looking for a "silver" gentleman who's too experienced to get caught in the headlights.
"These were actual puppets run by puppeteers, and each had its own choreographer," says Cusato. Grey collaborated with New York-based production company Hornet to bring the puppets to life, and Grey's team wrote the song and its genitally focused lyrics. "Every time we tested it, people said they couldn't get it out of their heads," Cusato says.
Regarding Bosch, Cusato tells AdFreak: "They're a very brave client. Lots would balk at this project." He adds, "Roadkill is a global issue, but nobody ever really talks about it."
Maybe now is the time for that discussion to start.
Beyond the puppets, Bosch recently renewed its partnership with meteorologist Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel. An ad starring Cantore will run alongside the PSA, though it will include 100 percent fewer references to assholes and testicles.
Agency: Grey New York
Global Chief Creative Officer: Tor Myrhen
Chief Creative Officer: Andreas Dahlqvist
Executive Creative Director: Ari Halper / Stephen Krauss
Creative Director: Joao Coutinho / Marco Pupo
Art Director: Andrew Barrett / Anthony Coleman
Copywriter: Pieter Melief
SVP Associate Director Of Film Production: James McPherson
Agency Producer: Sophia Pellicoro / Zach Fleming
Agency Music Producer: David Steinberg
Account Team: Rick Cusato / Danielle Fields
Audio Engineer: Dante Desole/ Ryan Hobler
Production Company: Hornet, New York
Director: Peter Sluszka
Director of Photography: Zak Mulligan
Production Company Executive Producer: Hana Shimizu
Production Company Producer: Marty Geren
Editor: Anita Chao at Hornet