Things Fell Into Place in Y&R’s New Miller Spot

NEW YORK More than 160 people stood up for falling down in Young & Rubicam’s “Dominoes” corporate image spot for Miller.

The 60-second TV commercial from the Chicago shop, which broke nationally on Sunday, begins with a man on the street falling forward into a person in front of him. Before the end of the spot, the chain of falling people has stretched through an office building, a bus, a train station and into a bar, where a Miller Lite-drinking man suavely steps out of the way, all to the tune of Devo’s “Freedom of Choice.” A voiceover states, “Because you can get in line and pick what they give you, or you can make your own choice.” The “Good call” tagline then appears with the Miller logo.

The idea, conceived by Y&R art director Jon Wyville and copywriter Dave Loew, began when they started considering what happens when people just go along with what everyone else does. The concept plays off Miller’s “Don’t settle” strategy. Thinking of the classic game soon led them to envision “human dominoes.”

Swedish director Fredrik Bond of MJZ, known for Hewlett-Packard’s “Digital Crime Fighting” spot that shows an electronic arrow capturing criminals, directed the ad.

“He had a great vision of how the spot would come out,” Wyville said. “We wanted it to be big, but we also wanted to bring some humor and humanity to it. That’s what makes it fun to watch.”

At first, Y&R creatives thought they would cast regular actors and have them fall on each other. But because the actors often did not fall effectively, Wyville said the agency issued an open call for stunt people in Toronto. Some 160 were selected, ranging from professional performers to a karate expert and a Canadian gymnastics champion, who flips over a copier in one sequence.

Special effects, by The Mill in New York, consisted of erasing a few wires from more complicated fall sequences and multiplying the number of people falling in a train station scene. But for the most part, the Y&R team, led by executive creative director Mark Figliulo, tried to keep effects in-camera.

Despite all the spills, there were no on-set accidents more serious than a few bruises, said Wyville, who is also a vp and creative director, as is Loew. Even the few actors, who were mixed in with the specialists, were trained by a stunt coordinator to make the falls look real.

The spot was shot in a variety of Toronto locations over four days. Crowds quickly gathered at each site to watch the stunt people fall. The scene was made all the more intriguing since Miller Lite is not sold in Canada.

“There was a buzz that something weird was going on in the city,” Wyville said.

Three additional ads, produced under the same strategy for Miller Lite and directed by Traktor, begin breaking next week.

Campaign spending was not disclosed. Miller spent about $250 million in measured media in 2002, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.