If you think The Martin Agency's new television spots for Advance Auto Parts look like they were made by amateurs, you're wrong, but you get the point.
Tagged "The best part is our people," six 30-second spots reduce the art of the commercial to the farce of home movies.
Copywriters John Mahoney and Steve Bassett and art director Michael Wright decided that their Roanoke, Va.-based client, which sells car parts and repair expertise to do-it-yourselfers, could do their own commercials as well. Sort of.
"The whole thing about Advance is that people who go there work on their own cars and do things themselves," said Martin creative director Cliff Sorah. "We decided to really embrace that idea."
The Richmond, Va., shop developed the spots around a cast of characters led by store manager "Jerry," who, said Sorah, received a video camera for Christmas and has the bright idea to make his own ads.
"We shot on video and degraded it, doing the same with the sound," he said. "But every time we got a cool idea, we had to remember that Jerry couldn't do that. If we needed to make a cut, we had to make it abrupt."
Logistics prevented using actual employees, so Sorah shopped for actors who could look uncomfortable on camera. Each spot focuses on Jerry and one other "associate."
A vaguely psychotic counter clerk reveals a deadly knowledge of car repair in "Squeeze Florence" and "Research." In "Battery Guy" and "Hands," an elderly man has no problem snapping back when Jerry pokes his lens too close.
What Sorah would like to see next are commercials created by Advance Auto Parts employees.
"That would create an esprit de corps and help Advance recruit and retain good people," he said.
The campaign broke this month on regional sports programming.
Annual billings are $10 million, according to CMR.