DDB Chicago Goes on Celeb-Filled Road Trip for Capital One

By Erik Oster 

DDB Chicago launched a “Road to the Final Four” campaign for Capital One featuring Charles Barkley, Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson hitting the road for March Madness again following last year’s effort.

As with its predecessor campaign, Lee directed the spots in addition to starring alongside Barkley and Jackson. It all begins with an overly-enthusiastic Barkley stealing a bit of Lee’s style and insisting the three are “besties” who finish each other’s sentences. “Nicknames” sees Barkley, tired of “Sir Charles,” decide that he needs a new psuedonym, although he’s less than taken with Lee and Jackson’s “Slam Chunk” and “Round Mound of Sit Around” suggestions. Barkely is also the target of “Change,” which sees the Hall of Famer unable to get his quarters into the toll booth basket, while “Escape” sees the guys all singing along to Rupert Holmes‘ grocery store staple, “Escape (The Piña Colada Song).” While the ads don’t always hit the mark with their humor (“Nicknames” comes closest to actually being funny), the three celebs do seem to have a natural chemistry giving the spots a spontaneous feel. That’s not surprising, given the amount of improvisation that went into shooting them.

“It’s honestly difficult to keep track of all the ad-libbing that happens when we’re filming,” Daniel McCaskey, vice president of brand strategy and advertising, told Adweek. “We actually count on it when we’re writing the scripts. Letting them be natural and play off of each other creates some of the most memorable moments we capture.”

“DDB explored a number of songs in several genres to find a quirky, catchy tune. ‘Escape’ checked the boxes,” added McCaskey, referring to the “Escape” spot. “It’s one of those guilty-pleasure tunes you can’t help but sing along to. And, let’s face it, it’s humorously out of character for them to be caught singing it.”

Agency: DDB Chicago
Client: Capital One
Executive Vice President, Chief Creative Officer: John Maxham
Group Creative Director, Art Director: Mike Ackerman
Group Creative Director, Copywriter: Travis Parr
Associate Creative Directors, Art Directors: Brant Herder, Michael Rosenthal
Associate Creative Directors, Copywriters: Tyler Campbell, Carlos Rangel
Art Director: Brittany Druker
Copywriter: Sean Collander
Executive Vice President, Integrated Production Director: Diane Jackson
Executive Producer: Will St.Clair
Associate Producer: Jakub Zajaczkowski
Production Manager: Polly Poulos
Talent, Music Manager: Linda Bres
Director: Spike Lee
Production Company: Pony Show
Editor: Meg Kubicka, WhiteHouse Post
Executive Producer: Kristin Branstetter
Assistant Editor Dawn Guzowski
Finishing Effects: Filmworkers
Visual Effects: Churchill Studios
Executive Producer: Derek DeBoard
Visual Effects Supervisor: Rob Churchill
Colorist: Fred Keller
Music: “Escape” by Rupert Holmes