Ad agency Preacher shoved live ferrets down actors' shirts for the latest Tommy John commercial. It did so to illustrate the indignities men often suffer owing to ill-fitting undershirts, and position the client's products as the solution.
Way to go, actors! You struggled through all those drama classes and years of waiting tables … for this. Behold the squirmy action, as the men's tops bunch up, stretch out and come untucked in various situations:
"Our first idea started with cats," Preacher creative chief Rob Baird tells AdFreak. "That lasted one presentation. Once we got serious about pursuing this idea, the combination of logistics of size and concern about cat lovers' response to putting them under dress shirts made us move to other options. Ferrets were on a shortlist of players, including hamsters and snakes. But once we found out they love to burrow and then Googled ferrets for a visual refresher—seeing their aggressive little faces—they seemed perfect."
"Perfect." That's one word for it.
Running at 60 seconds online, with shorter TV edits, "Undershirt Undoing" follows "The Big Adjustment," Tommy John's popular spot from last year that gets its kicks below the waistline. No ferrets were used in the making of that commercial. (Or so they say.)
"Obviously, following the success of 'The Big Adjustment' was a tough challenge," says client chief marketer Josh Dean. "Undershirts are a low-engagement category, so we needed to do something that stood out creatively, but also educated men on the product itself and show what differentiates Tommy John from everything else in the market. Ferrets always help!"
Do they? Do they really?
In the making-of video, they're hella creepy. Those "aggressive little faces" poke out of shirts like fuzzy Aliens emerging from the depths of the actors' digestive tracks.
"Usually, once the ferrets were tucked inside the shirts for several fast-action takes, they wanted to sleep," says Baird. "Our animal handlers had plenty of treats tucked throughout our actors' shirts to keep them moving and causing annoyance for our guys. The smart ones usually ate their treats and found the quickest exit—usually through a neck or button opening in the shirt. We have to give our actors a lot of credit for playing it so well and staying calm—the discomfort was real. Fortunately, we had no bites."
Lingering nightmares, we imagine, are another matter entirely.
Client: Tommy John
Chief Executive Officer: Tom Patterson
Chief Marketing Officer: Josh Dean
Senior Art Director: Fawad Khan
Producer: Allison Wicke
Director of Social Media: Monica Fineis
Chief Creative Officer: Rob Baird
Copywriter: Mark Svartz
Executive Producer: Stacey Higgins
Agency Producer: Katie Stoller
Assistant Agency Producer: Zach Tavel
Brand Director: Amanda VanAntwerp
Chief Executive Officer: Krystle Loyland
Chief Strategy Officer: Seth Gaffney
Senior Strategist: Carson Mobley
Business Affairs: Miiko Martin
Production Company: Smuggler
Executive Producers: Patrick Milling Smith, Brian Carmody, Jacqui Wilkinson
Director: Neil Harris
Head of Production: Andrew Colon
Line Producer: Claire Jones
Director of Photography: Tat Radcliffe
Production Services (Lithuania): Nordic Productions
Services Producer: Greta Kleine
Edit House: Cartel
Executive Producer: Lauren Bleiweiss
Head of Production: Meagan Carroll
Producer: Dale Nicholls
Editor: Andy McGraw
Assistant Editors: Matt Berardi, Micah Chase
Music: Black Iris
Composer: Trey Pollard
Executive Creative Director: Justin Bailey
Creative Director: Rich Stine
Executive Producer: Jon Spencer
Senior Producer: Amanda Patterson
Sound Engineer: Rohan Young
Assistant Sound Engineer: Ben Tomastik
Finish House: Cartel
Senior Flame Artist: Wes Waldron
Colorist: Marshall Plante