Improvising on the Fly at Marshall Field’s

NEW YORK Queer Eye for the Straight Guy‘s Carson Kressley parcels out advice and compliments to Marshall Field’s shoppers in a television spot for the retailer’s 13-hour sale that breaks today.

In the spot, by Peterson Milla Hooks in Minneapolis, Kressley walks around a Marshall Field’s in Chicago, commenting on shoppers’ purchases and even speaking to Santa himself. “Someone’s been in the fragrance department I believe,” he says to Santa, adding later, “You got to look good when you pop out of that chimney.” To a mother and daughter shopping, he says, “Sweaters make a great gift. But you knew that.”

A voiceover at the end of the spot states, “Save on great gifts at Marshall Field’s 13-hour sale Thursday only.”

Russell Bates of Crossroad’s X-ray directed the spot. Virtually all of the dialogue was improvised during the shoot, which took place over six hours at the beginning of October.

“We had to run with the talent and have a lot of fast inspiration and a lot of ideas on the spot,” Bates said. “Carson was well suited to that.”

Along with PMH personnel, including creative director Dave Peterson, copywriter Nate Morely and art director Dave Peterson, Bates would shout out lines to Kressley, who would improvise. The main directive from the client was to include certain parts of the store, such as the Christmas section.

Kressley was a pro at improv, according to Bates, but being part of a commercial shoot was new. “He wasn’t used to working in a structured environment,” Bates said. “Here we had definite lighting setups and parameters, and that’s where I could help him stay focused and stay within range.”

Overall, the shoot was “fast and fun,” Bates said. “We had a surprisingly large amount of great material considering how short the shoot was.”

The ad is running in Marshall Field’s markets. A similar spot for a separate 13-hour sale, also featuring Kressley, broke last month.