IDEA: Lovable monsters have a proud history, from Shrek to Sesame Street. DirecTV adds another to the mix in a cinematic new spot from Grey, New York, one of three in a mini campaign showing how you can record DirecTV shows and watch them anywhere on any device.
"DirecTV has a lot of technology coming out this year. Several campaigns will look at particular technologies," said Grey executive creative director Dan Kelleher. This one is memorably illustrated through the story of a giant troll who's ordered by his wife to fetch milk for their baby and embarks on an epic journey through the countryside and a terrified village—wreaking havoc, but only accidentally, as he watches a show on his tablet the whole way.
COPYWRITING: Associate creative director Heather English wrote all three scripts. "'Troll' was one that we just fell in love with," said Kelleher. "We loved the idea that he's not this mean, malevolent troll. He's charming—almost like a typical dad. Even though he's destructive, it's not on purpose. He's just so absorbed in the product."
The spot opens on a wide shot of a river in the moonlight, with the troll's cave glowing under a bridge in the distance. "Frank! The baby needs milk!" the unseen wife screams. The troll, who's been watching HBO's Veep in the living room, groans, pulls up the show on his tablet and heads off into the night. He walks over rocky hills, wades through a river and absently terrorizes a town. "Now you can watch DirecTV anywhere, on any device, at no extra charge," a voiceover says. Then, the visual punch line: The troll picks up a cow from a farm and begins his long trek back home.
The tagline, voiced and on screen, is: "Don't just watch TV. DirecTV."
ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Noam Murro shot most of the spot day-for-night—i.e., filmed during the day and modified to look like night. "For these epic, sweeping landscape shots, you'll never get that definition or depth if you're shooting at night," said Kelleher. Murro used a helicopter with a tethered camera hanging down, just feet off the ground, to get the landscape shots. (The opening shot, though, is a matte painting.)
The agency initially sketched the troll, then refined it endlessly with the director. He had to be imposing but not too scary. "You want him to be affable," Kelleher said. "He's a little clumsy, a little goofy. But that's all part of what makes you like him, and want to watch him." The scene under the bridge was filmed on a set. The rest, including the village scene (actually shot at night), was filmed at the Disney Ranch north of Los Angeles.
TALENT: Murro and effects agency Method used motion capture with an actor to get the physical framework for the troll. The troll's home under the bridge was built on a smaller scale specifically for the actor, who was 6-foot-8. "So he's actually hitting his head and fumbling his way through the space," said Kelleher.
The voice of the troll is deep and rich. "The first time you hear him, he makes that groan of a husband who's kind of beaten down a bit. It just seemed to work," Kelleher said. The townspeople are mostly extras, except for one torch-wielding citizen, chosen for having a great terrified face.
SOUND: The song, "In a World of My Own" from the 1951 film Alice in Wonderland, feels magical, which reinforces the plot, but is also light and airy, which offers a nice contrast to the dark landscapes and the imposing troll. "Perhaps your first thought would be to have this 'Boom, boom, boom' music," said Kelleher. "But I like that it's this beautiful little melody as he's ambling along."
MEDIA: National broadcast and cable, and online.
Agency: Grey, New York
President/CCO: Tor Myhren
Executive Creative Director: Dan Kelleher
Associate Creative Director: Heather English
Creative Director: Lu Romero
Creative Director: Andy Currie
Agency Executive Producer: Andrew Chinich
Agency Associate Producer: Lindsay Myers
Production Company (location): Biscuit Filmworks (LA)
Director: Noam Murro
Director of Photography: Jeff Cutter
Editor (person & company): Stewart Reeves, Arcade Edit
Sound Design: Kim B. Christensen
VFX: Method Studios, LA
Executive Producer: Stephanie Gilgar