How do you follow Ray Charles?
That was the challenge facing Austin Kelley Advertising in its ongoing television campaign for the Georgia Lottery.
Answer: Bring in James Brown.
Then shoot three 30-second spots featuring the "Godfather of Soul" as the "Think Really Big" fantasy of two starstruck suburbanites who have won a jackpot.
"Instead of a typical use of lottery money," said Jim Spruell, the Atlanta agency's executive creative director, "these two bring in James Brown to give voice lessons."
The couple, played with over-the-top goofiness by local actors Wendy Melkonian and John Newburg, employ Brown to help them greet party guests. They also record his gravelly voice on their telephone answering machine.
"Voice Lesson," with Brown emitting his trademark grunts as Melkonian tries to follow suit, is both hilarious and effective. Throughout both TV spots, Brown remains stoic, cleverly undercutting the couple's exuberance.
Brown, the "hardest-working man in show business," earned his fee. Seattle-based director Ron Gross and Means Street Production churned out the three ads with the star in a one-day Atlanta shoot.
Campaign credits go to T.J. Aseltyne, who wrote the copy, and Steve Andrews for art direction.