Cole Haan Goes From Supermodels to Sheep and Alpacas in New Film

A ‘Wooly Bully’ romp promotes new product tech

A most wooly band. Cole Haan / HouseSpecial
Headshot of Minda Smiley

In Cole Haan’s latest ad, the likes of Karlie Kloss and Christy Turlington Burns are nowhere to be seen. Instead, in a bid to inject a bit of whimsy and humor into its typically fashion-forward marketing, the footwear brand has swapped out supermodels for a gaggle of sheep and alpacas.

The one-minute animated film was brought to life with help from HouseSpecial, a Portland, Ore.-based animation studio that’s worked with brands including Häagen-Dazs, Planters, and Chipotle in recent years. Earlier this year, the animation powerhouse worked on M&M’s Super Bowl spot starring Danny DeVito.

The agency is helping Cole Haan introduce its line of Zerogrand with Stitchlite Wool shoes, which the brand claims are “like a sweater for your feet.” The woolen line is part of the company’s ZeroGrand shoe collection that came out in 2014.

In the ad, a band of sheep and alpacas perform Domingo ‘Sam The Sham’ Samudio’s 1965 hit Wooly Bully atop a hill. The performance proves to be a hit, as evidenced by all the other sheep stopping their grazing to dance and bob their heads as the song plays out.

The film itself is someone odd considering the ad looks more like a trailer for a Pixar movie than a promo for a high-end shoe brand, but David Maddocks, chief marketing officer and general manager of business development at Cole Haan, say it showcases the company’s “personality and sense of humor.”

“This is one of those projects that makes you enjoy the work you do and the people with whom you work,” said Maddocks.

The ad was co-directed by Mark Gustafson, who was animation director of Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, and HouseSpecial’s Kirk Kelley.

“A large part of the joy of making this film was collaborating with the folks at Cole Haan who trusted us and the story enough to let it sing for itself,” said Gustafson. “My only regret is that I exhausted all my sheep puns in the first week of production. Baaaad news.”

“The best part of the process is visualizing how the whole thing might work,” added Kelley. “Of course it doesn’t hurt that the whole idea of sheep wearing shoes and forming a band is a bit absurd.”

Lourri Hammack, founding partner and EP at HouseSpecial, said of the tie-up: “These are the types of collaborations we revel in–a creative, forward-thinking client with a sense of humor, a firm grasp on who they are and aren’t afraid to have fun with their brand as they engage fans with the unexpected.”


Client: Cole Haan
Chief Marketing Officer: David Maddocks

Animation: HouseSpecial
Co-Directors: Kirk Kelley, Mark Gustafson
Creative Director: Kirk Kelley
Executive Producer: Lourri Hammack
Producer: Julie Ragland
Editor: Cam Williams
Flame Artist: Rex Carter

Character Design: Gordon Clark, Aaron Sorenson
Production Design: Daniel Cacoualt, Stephen Bodin
Storyboard Artist: Tyler Turett
Illustration: Alan Long

Animation: Greg Kyle, Chris Ohlgren, Beavan Blocker
Lead TD: Patrick Van Pelt
Art Direction: Dan Casey
Modeling: Adam Rosenzweig, Josh Tonnessen, Chris Tran
Surfacing: Adam Rosenzweig, Mikey Rogers
Lighting: Clay Connally, Matt Reslier
Rigging: Ramiro Gomez, Terence Jacobson
Fur and Grooming: Patrick Van Pelt
Set Dressing: Karl Richter
Nuke Compositing: John Corbett

Production Assistant: Alex Webster
Media Tech/Editorial Support: Hamilton Barrett
Editorial/Post Manager: Cam Williams

Music: Wolly Bully by Sam The Sham & The Pharaos
Sound Design/Final Mix: Lance Limbocker

@Minda_Smiley Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.