creative: on location – A Run for Their Money

Berlin, Cameron’s latest iWon spot is a mad dash for cash
Leaning out a seventh-floor window, a man in a navy windbreaker throws handfuls of money to the people on an East Village street below. A strangely amiable Manhattan mob scene ensues as pedestrians stuff their pockets.
The shower of cash is the latest installment in’s $40 million launch strategy, which kicked off last month. The portal site is distinguishing itself from Internet leaders such as Yahoo! and AOL by offering prizes to registered iWon users. Through March 2000, iWon is giving away $10,000 a day, $1 million a month and $10 million on tax day.
Like previous work from Berlin, Cameron & Partners, New York, which was awarded the account in August, this spot emphasizes the cash prizes with the line, “Why wouldn’t you?” This latest campaign, touting iWon’s first monthly winner, broke Nov. 14 during Touched by an Angel. Each month’s winner will be revealed on CBS, which has invested over $100 million in the site.
Izzy DeBellis, creative director at Berlin, plans to toss $10,000 in real $1 bills from windows, which the crowd–paid actors–can keep. “I like advertising that feels like a stunt,” DeBellis says. On this day, the wind carries the money away. They’ve been using fake bills–so far.
The production team will complete the master shot, in which 120 actors scramble for the falling money. Later, they’ll tape scenarios with specific characters, such as a cab driver, businessman and bicycle messenger.
In just four weeks, the Berlin team had to work out issues of liability, insurance and permits before throwing the money. New York law states the tossing of fake money is littering (real cash isn’t). PAs dutifully collect the bills after each shot.
The actors are given a safety briefing, but little specific direction. “I want people to do what they do naturally,” says director David Veloz. “I did say no fighting. This is happy, happy, happy. Everybody’s a winner.”
Finally, the wind calms down. “This next shot will be with real money, repeat, real money,” Veloz shouts into a bullhorn.
Real cash raises the energy level on the set. The actors sport huge smiles; they’re more animated than they’ve been all day. “Get the money!” Veloz shouts. One man dives across a cab. A woman jumps to catch a bill. After the shot, Berlin’s producer, Mary Ellen Dugan, exchanges high-fives with her crew. “That’s our best one yet,” she says.
In the end, only $3,000 is tossed. But Veloz and DeBellis are pleased with the actors’ intensity–and good humor. “This has to be the funniest shoot I’ve ever been on,” says Dugan. “I wanted to get in there.” K

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