Leo Burnett Casts Keegan-Michael Key as ‘Chief Explaining Officer’

By Patrick Coffee 

Keegan-Michael Key–Detroit native and star of Comedy Central’s Key & Peele–stars in a campaign created by Leo Burnett Detroit for the local chapter of the United Way that launched yesterday.

“Street Mentor,” which involves on a series of spots to be distributed via social media, attempts to explain the organization’s services with a bit of the humor that made Key famous.

In the first spot “Food for Thought,” Key tells us that he’s just trying to do some good work for his hometown–though he may not be the best resource when it comes to produce:

The second ad “Little Al” is a bit longer. In this one, Key promotes the org’s 2-1-1 information service and, in the process, reveals that he’s not too hot on financial or ethical advice either:

Finally, in “Story Time with Key,” our maladjusted star talks tough to some kids who just want him to read the damn book already:

In the release, Leo Burnett CCO Steve Chavez writes:

“We knew we had to break through in a memorable, irreverent way. The unorthodox ads leverage a unique brand of humor that aims to grab your attention and raise awareness of United Way’s services.”

They’re definitely irreverent. They’re also slightly…off-putting for a campaign promoting such a valuable public service.

Assets include the KeeganLivesUnited.com URL, which goes straight to the videos. Related hashtags stem from some of Key’s favorite verbal slips like #scabbages, etc.:

The campaign was directed by Jordan Brady of Superlounge, who says:

“Leo Burnett Detroit creatives Matt Perry, Stephen Kerry and Marty Muthuswami really tapped into one of Keegan’s signature characters. I’d shot with Steve Chavez before, and having him on set was great. Everyone kept tossing what I call ‘joke logs’ onto this blazing comedy fire. And Keegan would turn it into gold.”

Unfortunately, it’s too late to nominate this one for the Dannes Lions…but there’s always next year. Come to think of it, wouldn’t “Chief Explaining Officer” be a great alternate title for every chief innovation person?

Project Credits

Client: United Way for Southeastern Michigan

Campaign: Street Mentor


Agency:  Leo Burnett Detroit

Chief Creative Officer:  Steve Chavez

Art Director: Stephen Kerry

Copywriter: Matt Perry, Marty Muthuswami

Executive Producer:  Brian Dooley

Production Company: Superlounge

Director: Jordan Brady

Producer: TK Krasofsky

EP: Dave Farrell

DP: Bryan Papierski

Editorial: Beast

Editor: Chris Chynoweth

Assistant Editors: Jason Stratton, Andrea Ramsay

Colorist: Company 3 – Robert Curreri

Finish Editorial (“Food for thought”): Method

VFX (“Food for thought”): Finish Editorial (“Little Al”, “Put your money in assets”, Storytime with Key”): Ringside Creative

Audio Mixing: Ringside Creative

Media: Zenith Media