Creative Briefs

When Animals Harmonize

Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly, and in a holiday spot from BBDO in New York, they gotta sing, too, with some assistance from Los Angeles production studio Rhythm & Hues.

In the ad for Visa and Petsmart, which broke last week, a pet goldfish, parrot and dog sing the Showboat tune “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man of Mine,” with its famous animal references, as their owner buys them gifts online. The spot’s announcer is played by a cat.

All the animals are real—with digitally created expressions and mouth movements—except for the fish. The real version proved slippery to train. “We shot miles of film with a fish, and to get a fish to do anything is not easy,” says Rick Hanson, svp, creative director. Finally BBDO brought in Rhythm & Hues—which created special effects for Cats & Dogs and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone—to create a computer-generated fish, which turned in a more nuanced performance.

To animate the cat, Rhythm & Hues shot Ed Grover, an announcer for Visa spots for years. The cat’s face was digitally altered to resemble Grover’s expressions. The whole process took about four weeks.

The studio was careful “not to go over the top,” Hanson says. “We wanted to keep within what parrot or dog could do.” So to speak.

Ex-Propagandists Go to MJZ

NEW YORK—Following the closure of Propaganda Films last month, Propaganda/Satellite Films directors Spike Jonze, Dante Ariola, Tom Kuntz and Mike Maguire have signed on with production company MJZ, New York and Los Angeles. Joining them are Propaganda producer Vince Landay and head of sales Dana Balkin, now an MJZ executive producer.

Jonze, who has partnered with Landay for nearly nine years, says his reasons for going to MJZ include its sound reputation and financial outlook, small size and low-key atmosphere. Adds Landay, “They’re a really well-run production company. That was attractive to us.” Jonze and Landay’s latest commercial project was a “Crazy Legs” Levi’s campaign shot in Mexico this summer for TBWA\Chiat\Day, San Francisco.

Partners Kuntz and Maguire’s most recent projects include spots for Budweiser’s “True” campaign from DDB, Chicago, and for Volkswagen from Arnold, Boston. Ariola’s latest work was for Nike from Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

Ex-Propagandists Go to MJZ Hot and Bottled Hammering Home the MessageCold Comfort

DDB makes the most of Tabasco’s trademark label in a new print campaign promoting the brand’s various flavors. In each ad, the usual label copy is replaced with warnings such as, “In this case milder only means it will take less time to recover from it” (for green jalapeño sauce). “There are not many products that have such a familiar label that you literally change every word on it but it still remains instantly identifiable,” says Janet Bustin, DDB group account director and managing partner. The visual strategy evolved out of the client’s desire to treat all the Tabasco products as a family but also give each flavor its own raison d’etre. The Dallas agency will follow the print campaign, to run in titles such as Wired, Vibe, Rolling Stone and Maxim, with new TV spots in January. Creative credits include Julie Bowman, copywriter; Kathy Redick, art director; and Carl Warner, group creative director.

Public Interest Productions, San Francisco, broke its “AIDS Ain’t Over” campaign for the Elton John AIDS Foundation on MTV and VH1 on Saturday, in conjunction with World AIDS Day. One spot opens with vistas of a dry, deserted African plain. It couples shots of a black African man with a super that asks, “Do you know what it’s like to live in a country where it’s possible that one in five of your friends has the AIDS virus?” Ultimately, the question is answered: “Of course you do, you’re in it. It’s the United States of America … where one in five gay men are now HIV-positive.” The second spot was deemed too violent to air by VH1. It shows a piano repairman aggressively hammering a nail into every fifth key of a grand piano. Digital Domain provided a camera to capture the hammering at a rate of 2,000 frames per second.

For the Busch brands’ first round of new spots in three years, DDB Chicago required a cast of Aussies to run through woods and leap off a mountain into a stream. The only problem was the frigid water—good for beer, less good for swimming. “The guys were not as macho as they were when they were cast,” says DDB group creative director Rick Kor zen iow ski. The shoot took place in Australia and New Zealand because the diversity of scenery that was required—a mountain lake, wilderness and an ocean—was logistically easier to access than in the U.S., Kor zeniowski says. The campaign continues the “Head for the mountains” tagline as well as the theme of escaping to the great outdoors, because research has shown Busch drinkers respond favorably to that imagery, says Keith Levy, director of marketing for Busch brands. The new work incorporates the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Simple Man,” a departure from guitarist Link Wray’s instrumental music in previous ads.