‘The Investigator’ Crosses Over Into Anglo Play

LOS ANGELES After a successful run in Hispanic markets, one of three spots by Publicis Sanchez & Levitan for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the ONDCP will break in 15- and 30-second English-language versions in the general market Jan. 1, said the PSA’s director, Vance Malone.

Called “The Investigator” in English, the creative suggests a trailer for an upcoming movie starring an inquisitive dad indefatigably asking about his daughter’s party and dating plans, turning the ethnic stereotype of the meddling Latino father into a heroic, hard-nosed archetype of concerned fatherhood.

“He asks the tough questions. He won’t settle for any answer,” says the narrator, as the father is pictured in cinematic wide-screen aspect ratio and “They call him The Investigator” appears in type on screen. Later, when the daughter is on a dinner date, her boyfriend says, “Come on, your Dad doesn’t have to know everything,” to which she replies, “Actually, he does.” The spot is based on a concept underlying a campaign that broke last month from Burrell Communications, Chicago

The spots were created by the Dallas-based agency for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and directed by Malone of Food Chain Films, with offices in Portland, Ore., Los Angeles and New York. Janice Mock produced for the agency’s creative director, David Hopson.

“We had no idea that it would run in the general market,” said Malone. “We’d done a safety in English at Janice’s request just in case, doing six to eight readings of the script in English on all three spots. They market tested the spots in English and the response was positive.”

Malone said it was a “great treat as a director to make it like a mini-movie.” After “deconstructing a typical movie trailer,” Malone decided to film the actors reading entire scenes, rather than the clipped lines of a commercial script, for a more movie-like flow. “When the line is performed in the context of the conversation, it is easier to extract a pinnacle moment, a highlight, that seems like it is from a movie,” he said.

Malone said the spot was shot in Dallas to resemble any Hispanic U.S. community. Campaign spending was not disclosed.