Giant Ben Franklin and Giant Cheesesteak Battle in Inexplicably Weird Philly Tourism Ad

An odd way to employ the city's legends

The City of Brotherly Love looks hip, inviting and postcard-perfect in a scenic new tourism ad … that is, until a skyscraper-size Benjamin Franklin starts pounding the pavement to do Godzilla-style battle with an equally ginormous Philly cheesesteak. 

Are they jousting? Hugging? Why does one of our Founding Fathers have laser beams shooting out of his eyes? 

Molten cheese is spilled, but otherwise this looks more like a slow dance than a battle royale. Maybe that's why no one watching this scene from street level seems alarmed. Out-of-towners are simply curious about the statesman-versus-sandwich rumble, and locals take it in stride. This must happen often. 

"The challenge in developing a spot that broadens people's perspectives about what makes Philly great was having a bit of fun with the two things the city is most famous for—cheesesteaks and history," says Steve Red, president and chief creative officer of Red Tettemer O'Connell + Partners, which made the ad. 

The tongue-in-cheek spot is the first TV ad from Visit Philadelphia in five years, and will air on broadcast and cable stations this month, in July and September. The city has set visitor records in recent years—with a major assist last fall from Pope Francis—and wants to keep the momentum going with "Philazillas."

Its accompanying tagline, "There's more to a legendary city than its legends," speaks to both the cheesesteak's Philly roots and to Ben Franklin's decision to settle in, develop and eventually die in the city. (Who knew they'd be rivals?) 

Out-of-home ads in New York and Philly will support a 30-second spot, and the minute-long version will appear on social media and various digital platforms.


Agency: Red Tettemer O'Connell + Partners

Chief Creative Officer: Steve Red                             

Executive Creative Director: Steve O'Connell

Vice President, Group Creative Director: Todd Taylor                   

Vice President, Group Creative Director, Copywriter: Ryan Scott

Managing Partner: Carla Mote                            

Senior Account Manager: Erin Prosser

Account Manager: Michelle Mitchell

Producer: Nick Pitcavage

Client: Meryl Levitz, Chief Executive Officer, Visit Philadelphia

Talent: Ward Larkin (Ben Franklin), Jeff Wilkerson (Cheesesteak), Menah Kennedy (female lead), Chadwick Rawlings (male lead), Brooke Behmke (cab driver)

Production Company: Durable Goods

Director: Greg Bray          

Visual Effects: Alkemy X

Editorial: Chip Schofield                                                            

Music, Sound, Mix:  MilkBoy

Composers: Tommy Joyner, Jaime Lokoff, MilkBoy

Audio Engineer: Cody Cichowski, MilkBoy


Recommended articles