On Pontiac’s National Playlist

Two Pontiac spots chosen to air on television and cable networks nationwide were shot by Leo Ticheli, a self-schooled cinematographer with a growing list of national and regional clients.

The Grand Am and Grand Prix TV commercials, created by the D’Arcy-Martin Group in Birmingham, Ala., were originally scheduled to run in Southeastern and West Coast markets.

“But brand managers for the models were so impressed, they asked if Ticheli could re-edit a version for national network buys,” said agency president David Martin

D’Arcy-Martin is a partnership between automotive retail specialist Martin Advertising and Pontiac lead agency D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in Troy, Mich.

The joint-venture—with Ticheli handling camera and editing work—is responsible for all dealer group-commissioned regional retail spots for Pontiac and Cadillac.

“We’re pretty proficient at sheet metal,” Ticheli told Adweek. “We can sell the deals.”

Tom Luckie, who heads Luckie Advertising in Birmingham, said Ticheli’s creative reach extends beyond the car lot.

“Leo is a guy with a national reputation who just happens to be living in Alabama,” said Luckie. “He can deliver the goods.

Both Luckie and Martin have worked with Ticheli, 57, for nearly two decades.

“Leo is a visionary,” said Martin. “That means we have to put the bit in his mouth to rein him in every once in a while.”

Ticheli began as a creative director at Leavell Wise and Ticheli in Montgomery, Ala., in 1969.

“Back then, there were no production companies in Alabama,” he recalled. “I went from still photographer to cinematographer shooting and cutting 16mm film.”

He started Leo Ticheli and Co.—himself and a receptionist—in 1976.

Now with full-service editing and production facilities in Alabama and Georgia (the Atlanta unit is run by daughter Cameron Ticheli), Ticheli has 15 full-time employees and clients such as Coca-Cola, BellSouth and The Southern Company on the corporate side; D’Arcy and McCann-Erickson on the agency side.

Ticheli recently added a $175,000 high-definition, variable-frame vid-eo camera to his arsenal, the only such unit, he said, in the Southeast.

“It’s rare for a company our size to do all these things,” he said. “We bring economies of scale and ease of interface to our clients.”