U.S. Bank’s New Ads Imagine the Future, Thanks to Some Clever Visual Tricks

Exploring spaces that don't yet exist

U.S. Bank's new campaign from Carmichael Lynch leaves a lot to the imagination.

For example, in "New House," a young couple tour their dream home … which hasn't been built yet. Most of the story takes place in an expansive field. At one point, when the woman "hangs up" her jacket, it simply floats, completely unsupported, since there aren't any hooks to hold it—or even walls. Later, when she and her partner check out the second level, they appear to be walking on air: There are no stairs to climb or floors to stand on. 

Every interaction in the house takes place in their imaginations until the final seconds, when the dwelling materializes around them. "The difference between possible and impossible," the voiceover says, is "a person who believes they can—surrounded and supported by others, by us, who believe it too." 

The campaign breaks today and introduces the tagline "The Power of Possible."

 

A second commercial, "Restaurant," follows two business partners exploring a dusty, dilapidated industrial space, dreaming of what might be one day. An oily covering for battered machinery becomes a tablecloth, conforming to the shape of an invisible table. When one partner pantomimes lighting a candle, a bright flame flickers before her eyes. Later, as she "cooks," fire flares from an imaginary skillet.

At the end, the place transforms into a hot spot, packed with patrons savoring their meals.

 

The work conveys U.S. Bank's willingness "to support people early on, when they're wondering and planning and hoping to do something," Marty Senn, CL's chief creative officer, tells AdFreak. "You're usually there—doing business with a bank—because of something that's very personal and important to you, but a lot of that's missing from work in the category." 

Naturally, the unusual creative approach presented some challenges.

"It was really important to us, and to [MJZ director] Nicolai Fuglsig, that it never felt like a dance or mime," Senn says. Rather, the audience had to believe that "these people were really moving through their ideal spaces—but we, as viewers, just couldn't see it yet."

To achieve that effect, the scenes were shot in actual house and restaurant sets, giving the actors physical objects for interaction. Later, those objects—doorknobs, stairs, wall-hooks, candles, skillets—were painstakingly removed, and the footage synced up with the outdoor and industrial-space environments.

This was done because pure pantomime is much tougher than it looks. For example, when actors pretend to reach for doorknobs, "they dip down rather than keeping it on a level plane," says Senn.

For the client, green-lighting such novel ads "was definitely a leap of faith, but one they wanted and were asking to make," Senn adds. "They were as excited as we were to be looking at scripts that didn't feel like bank scripts." 

Ultimately, the finished product is quite compelling, and it might just inspire viewers to connect with U.S. Bank and explore some possibilities in their own lives.

CREDITS

Client: U.S. Bank

Agency: Carmichael Lynch

Chief Creative Officer: Marty Senn

Associate Creative Director: Puja Shah

Senior Writer: Ryan Falch

Head of Production: Joe Grundhoefer

Executive Content Producer: Freddie Richards

Director of Business Affairs: Vicki Oachs

Managing Director: Kim Bock

Account Director: Sarah Larsen

Account Supervisor: Mackenzie Kauffman

Senior Project Manager: Shannon Gabrick

Production Company: MJZ

Director: Nicolai Fuglsig

President: David Zander

Executive Producer: Emma Wilcockson

Producer: Karen O'Brien

Director of Photography: Hoyte Van Hoytema

Production Designer: Christopher Glass

Edit House: Rock Paper Scissors NY