‘The Power of Ideas’ Takes on a Morbid New Meaning in This Film Festival Promo

The supernatural takes a twisted turn

The kid has supernatural abilities. Newport Beach Film Festival
Headshot of T.L. Stanley

The tension between this former couple is so thick you could cut it with a knife. The split was obviously contentious (the gal has moved on) and they’re having a clipped conversation over breakfast about her new partner’s dubious character and her perceived lack of parenting skills. The guy, meantime, is intractable.

Their young son, sitting at the same diner table, is amusing himself with toys and action figures. He’s lost in his own games, not paying any attention to the adults. Or is he?

Has he soaked up enough of their cruelty and bitterness to start spitting it back at the world, in the form of plane crashes, shark attacks and bloody assaults on random strangers? Or is he just an innocent kid with an active imagination that has horrifying, real-life consequences?

Check out the spot (which borders on NSFW due to a little gore) and decide for yourself.

“Play: The Power of Ideas,” touts the upcoming Newport Beach Film Festival. The work, the second consecutive campaign for the Southern California event from Orange County-based Garage Team Mazda, follows last year’s “Quota: Who Made the Cut,” a sci-fi mini-masterpiece that landed on Adweek’s list of the 25 best ads of 2018.

No pressure, then, for the agency to top itself in this outing.

“That’s exactly what we were thinking,” says Melissa Webber, creative director at WPP’s Garage Team Mazda, who partnered with production house Reverse for the long-form ad. “But what we really wanted to do was blow it up and go in a completely different direction and strike a different tone.”

The core of the story, to match the festival’s tagline, “The Power of Ideas,” revolves around a seemingly sweet little boy trying to survive his folks’ divorce. The power of his ideas, though, manifest in darkness and violence, “striking a contrast that literally shocks you,” she says.

Is he a sadistic, supernaturally empowered demon spawn? Or the next great filmmaker? Webber chooses to believe the latter, saying, “We want you to root for him. He doesn’t realize he has special powers until the end.”

That would be when he’s twisting off the head of his policeman figurine, and the real cop outside the window takes the brunt of that action, so…

The festival, kicking off Apr. 25, has a well-earned rep for groundbreaking commercials that for many years came from agency RPA. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the event’s organizers challenged the Garage creative team to “take a fresh, inventive approach,” Webber says. “This piece needs to feel like the caliber of storytelling that they would welcome into the festival.”

With a lovely, lilting soundtrack, an original instrumental score, the sun-drenched ad was shot around Los Angeles (Venice Beach and the iconic Pink Motel in the San Fernando Valley serve as backdrops) by director Johan Stahl. It will air before the 350 features in the week-long festival.

@TLStanleyLA terry.stanley@adweek.com T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.