Leap of Faith
DDB's Energizer ads run on emotions, not gadgetry
An Energizer commercial shot atop a 3,000 foot canyon into which splashes the world's tallest waterfall could go a couple of ways. The infernal bunny could suddenly appear, having chugged his way to the top thanks to his powerful batteries. A rival's product could fail during the crucial moment of a radio transmission between trekkers, resulting in a climbing catastrophe.
Or, you could simply have a guy jump into the yawning chasm to the sound of the wind.
That's the route DDB chose in one of three launch spots for Energizer's e2, a titanium battery that claims greater power. The ads break in August as part of a $100 million branding effort for e2.
The idea behind the campaign, tagged "Take power to the next level," was to instill "the human spirit in a battery" and avoid the usual demonstrations of product endurance, says Paul Brourman, a group creative director at the Chicago shop.
The bunny, which remains in the care of lead Energizer agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, is absent from this work, an effort to set the e2 apart. "You're hard-pressed not to find devices in battery advertising," Brourman admits. "We had to go that much farther to show it's a separate brand."
The question put to creatives was, "How are we going to talk about the power in a way that differentiates it from other batteries?" Brourman explains. "Physical power is one thing. Raw emotional power is another. No one's ever talked about it that way."
Though similar in tone, the three spots in DDB's initial pool are distinct in content-each one expresses a specific emotion.
The most dramatic commercial shows a stuntman jumping into the canyon of Angel Falls in Venezuela, chosen because it is high enough to allow an airborne cameraman to capture another jumper free-falling before pulling his chute. The visual supports copy that suggests "power this daring" now comes in a battery.
Getting the concept on film, however, proved to be an adventure. Tarantulas and "killer lizards" were among the nonbattery-powered creatures the crew contended with during its visit to the remote location, Brourman says.
Local people familiar with the area's weather patterns were used to coordinate the film schedule, since the crew needed to wait for cloud openings in order to shoot.
Despite the drama of the jump, a key shot was a close-up of the stuntman's face seconds before he made the leap, captured by director Josh Taft. "You can see it in his face," Brourman says of the intensity of the undertaking and the power the commercial conveys.
A more prosaic e2 spot was inspired by the energy of children, showing youngsters playing on a merry-go-round. "How many times do you see children in the playground and think, if you could just bottle that.' " Brourman says. This spot suggests, "Power this alive" is now in a battery.
For a third e2 commercial, the creative team traveled to West Texas, a hotbed of football fever, to shoot a team called the Permian Bulldogs. The ad shows little on-field action, concentrating instead on a player's emotional windup prior to kickoff.
"It's not about the hit; it's all about the intensity in the locker room leading up to the hit." For this commercial, the copy claims the battery possesses, "Power this intense."
"Each spot will hit you a little differently," Brourman says. "We kept a realism in them."
Agency: DDB Chicago
Creative Director: Chris Hunter
Group Creative Director: Paul Brourman
CD/Art Director: Mike Willeford
ACD/Art Director: Debbie Klonk
Copywriter: Mary Beth Adduci
Senior Producer: Karim Bartoletti
Director: Josh Taft
Production Co.: Satellite Films, Hollywood, Calif.