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August 2014
Issue: July 1, 2006

AGENCY WORLD: GRIT AND POLISH

By: Ken McGorry
BOSTON — Senior copywriter Will Chambliss has been at Arnold/ Boston for over two years since he and his work partner, art director Robb Kottkamp, moved up from Atlanta's Fitzgerald & Co. with their respective families. The CW and the AD made their mark creating for clients like Fidelity Investments and have garnered their fair share of advertising awards since.

They worked on the anti-smoking "Truth" campaign, a two-agency job — Arnold (www.arnoldworldwide.com) and Miami-based Crispin Porter + Bogusky — for the American Legacy Foundation. "We have a whole legion of creatives who worked on it," says Chambliss, "here and down there — it's a nice collaboration for a good cause." Overseeing the creative process on the "Truth" campaign were Pete Favat and Alex Bogusky of Crispin, Porter + Bogusky. The team won numerous awards for "Truth" at the recent One Show.

The American Legacy Foundation's mission (www.americanlegacy.org) is to prevent young people from taking up smoking. One bitterly hilarious spot for the "Truth" campaign is the :60 Decal-conscious, which spoofs sitcoms by using material from actual tobacco company documents as the sad-but-true punch line. In Decal, edited at MacKenzie Cutler in NYC, a dweeby, lower-echelon executive tiptoes into a tobacco honcho's office to pitch his insidious idea for attracting youngsters to cigarettes: distribute free decals and stickers (that subliminally encourage smoking) in every pack. How do you collect all 10 decals? To a background of grating canned laughter, a cynical middle-management executive chimes in: "Buy the carton!"

"The director was Martin Granger, who worked with The Kids in the Hall, so he had some experience in the sitcom format. We built a set and had the three different cameras like you would with a sitcom." A graphic at the end reads: "It would be funny if it weren't true."But young people filmed acting out in city streets is more the norm for "Truth" commercials. "This past fall we shot another campaign, called 'Truth Found' where we took it back to the street," Chambliss says of their shoot in New York. "One day it was absolutely pouring but we decided to shoot because the kids would go ahead with it, the rain be damned." 

In Good Samaritans, a :60 written by Chambliss and directed by Chris Smith, young adults are shot going around performing simple good deeds (like holding up an umbrella) for local passers by. "But they have a megaphone with them and they would tell everybody about the deeds they were doing," Chambliss says. One youth comes on camera at the end to explain the analogy about good deeds: It seems one tobacco company once spent $125,000 on a food charity, and then spent another $21 million promoting their gift to the public, he says. "We don't try to make it too polished," Chambliss says of "Truth's" raw appeal. "'Truth' needs to feel authentic and kind of gritty, so we do things like shooting on video."

SPORTS HEAVEN

One Arnold campaign that has polish to spare features a recent Mobile ESPN spot called Sports Heaven, a :60 shown during the 2006 Super Bowl. Written by Chambliss and art directed by Kottkamp, the spot features a regular guy leaving his metropolitan office building. He's contentedly absorbed with his cell phone as he makes his way through the crowded city streets. There are lots of  passers-by, but these people are not civilians — they are actual sports stars demonstrating their professional talents right on the streets. 

Over 20 pro sports are represented on our friend's walk — all the major team sports, and golf, fencing, fishing, gymnastics and car racing to boot. You see, Mobile ESPN keeps sports-conscious guys like our friend in touch with the sports world even when they're away from mass media. As our hero seats himself at the base of a statue — a gigantic Heisman Trophy — the camera pulls back to reveal a skyline scored by roaring jets flying in formation as a blimp hovers in the background and fireworks explode in the dusky sky. The message: "Sports fans, your phone has arrived."

Jake Scott directed, Pete Favat was executive creative director and Bill Goodell and Paul Shannon produced for Arnold.

"We got some 32 athletes and I think 25 ended up in the spot — it was a scheduling nightmare," Chambliss says. "There was a lot of fun post production in that — we used Brickyard (www.brickyardvfx.com) in Los Angeles and Boston. Especially the end scene. You pull up and away to see this entire canvas of sports. Brickyard really worked hard on those last five seconds." 

Chambliss credits Brickyard's Geoff McAuliffe for his Discreet Flame mastery. Andre Betz cut the spot at Bug Editorial in New York.Brickyard did have to perform some last-minute jersey replacement when celebrated base-stealer Juan Pierre, shot jaywalking in his Florida Marlins uniform, was traded to the Cubs. But Chambliss and company were happy Brickyard could dodge that bullet digitally, adding, "It was pretty cool." 

Speaking of cool, the music background they chose for Sports Heaven was not exactly Snoop Dogg.  Try Chad & Jeremy singing the dreamy, folksy "Summer Song" for a twist.