In Los Angeles, Christmas starts in September. If you work in commercial production, that is! Indeed it takes a couple of months for projects to get greenlit and produced in time for airing during the holiday season. So it was that last year I was working on a fun Christmas project for my clients at PSYOP- storyboarding the delightful tale of Kevin the Christmas Carrot- a character conceived for an Aldi holiday commercial. Aldi, if you don’t know, is a popular European supermarket chain.
The commercial is really sweet and funny- a plucky little carrot just wants to meet Santa, and must brave the dangers of the Christmas dinner table in order to do so. He dodges hazards of all kinds, and collapses next to Santa’s mince pie and brandy (it’s a UK commercial, so no cookies and milk in this one… in fact, it’s not Santa, it’s Father Christmas!).
It’s all self-explanatory and I’m really excited to show you the boards:
And here’s a link to the final video!
It turned out so great! Looks like they opted NOT to go with the full widescreen aspect ratio. I think it might have looked more epic if they did, but I can also see where the 16×9 is a little more suited for a sense of comedy, which was just as important.
There was a lot of brainstorming and tossing out all kinds of ideas that might work as potential hazards for the ‘journey’ montage. Here’s a few that I thought were really clever (and well-drawn by me!)
What a fun project! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. This campaign tested so well, the client decided to make a sequel! I storyboarded that one too, so I’ll post that when I have more time.
I had a good run a couple of years ago getting hired to draw storyboards for an ad campaign for Labatt Blue, a Canadian Beer brand. They have a Bear character (just an actor in a bear suit) who is their Party Champion – a “Duff Man,” if you will- who shows up at opportune moments to take the party to the next level- and make it EPIC.
I think I’ve detailed before that I prefer commercials that don’t rely on dialogue or voiceover to convey the narrative- and so it is in these commercials that all the entertainment and message is contained the fun, active, silly visuals. In this campaign, I was called to draw sexy girls, sports, action, humor, nature, and of course, beer. It was very fun.
Spot 1 – “Wakeboard”
Here’s the first spot! For all the spots, we start on a great beer/branding lineup. Always good to have some clear branding, but it comes at a cost- it clearly shows the viewer that they are watching a commercial, which is often something we’re called to make less obvious- but owning it upfront and then making a spectacular entertaining spot immediately follow is also a great strategy- either way, your mission is to keep them watching for what happens next.
We open tight on a lineup of the Labatt Blue beers, which are lifted from frame to reveal an awesome wide shot of a beautiful blue lake, and sport boat with wakeboarder coming right at camera- after a series of tight shots of boating and boarding, we reveal the Bear in a frozen epic moment superimposed with the message “Get Undomesticated”. This is their slogan/call to action/mnemonic – a brand message to reinforce association and clarify intent- this beer is for wild and crazy Canadian party animals and the sexy girls who love them!
We see more shots of extreme wakeboarding skills, and some party shots, and it’s on! Labatt Blue is the choice of the truly undomesticated. Here’s the boards:
And here’s the final spot!
Spot 2 – “Pond Hockey”
We open tight on a lineup of the Labatt Blue beers, cold as ice, which are lifted from view and reveal a frozen pond- and a bizarre sight- a bear in hockey skates and stick doing perfect puck handling and closing in on us- it’s our Bear hero and the message is clear – Get Undomesticated. He crashes the pond hockey game and single-handedly schools the other players, deft skills outclassing these hopeful amateurs. He shoots, he scores, they celebrate! It’s a hot time on the cold pond tonight! Here’s the boards:
And here’s the final spot!
Spot 3 – “Dune Buggy”
We open tight on a lineup of the Labatt Blue beers, which wipe frame, revealing our dune buggy race- a sexy flag girl starts the race and they’re off! We have fun action shots, quick cuts of dune buggy racing action, and we catch a frozen moment glimpse of the absurd- the lead buggy is driven by our hero, the Labatt Bear. He wins the race, the crowd goes wild, and it’s a fun, sexy part to celebrate right after. Win! Here’s the boards:
And here’s the final commercial – or at least, it would have been here- I can’t find it online, and I’m not sure if it was even made, or made but never posted, or posted but then removed. Probably the latter.
Sometimes things get muddled after the fact – as an example, limitations on music licensing, or perhaps more likely, revised guidelines on advertising standards and practices, or perhaps most likely, maybe it was “tested” by a focus group of viewers, and tested poorly, for whatever reason, and thus was cut. It happens all the time, and it’s expected. I’m only speculating, but maybe it was a bit of a conceptual reach to go with the Baja Beach / Sand Dune scenario- its kind of a disconnect from where you would normally think a Canadian Bear would spend his free time. So, maybe someone had a concern that this spot wasn’t as relatable to the target demographic as the other spots were. Just a guess!
Man, I need to do some pushups or something, get back into fighting shape. You may not believe this, but I coulda been a contender… What’s that? You don’t believe it? Well, moving on…
Closest I’ll ever get to the ring, is drawing these MMA athletes for NOS energy drink commercials. It’s just a few frames, but I wanted to take the opportunity to inject a little testosterone into my blog, and balance out all the princess dolls and scented plugins and acne medicine commercials.
Here’s some storyboards I did for a pitch for a recent Taco Bell spot.
The premise is, you can use an app to order whatever kind of taco bell food item you want, encouraging you to try new items and new combinations. It’s like having a Taco Bell Rubik’s cube!
And here’s the final commercial.
The interesting this is, we didn’t get the job- another production company (who is also a client, but not on this job) was awarded the work. Nevertheless, you can see how close my boards are to the final work- just a natural side effect of the clear, concise nature of the project, with the “winning” idea being somewhat obvious. I wonder what their storyboards looked like? Can’t win ’em all, I guess.
Love me some bourbon. And it’s always fun to mix business and pleasure. For this spot, much product was tested in the name of “research.” I’m passionate about quality boards and spirits.
Brand New School produced this spot, and their talented designers had pretty much already won the day with some very impressive style frames. My job was to build out frames for the animatic so they could plan out the timing and the camera moves. The concise VO (voice-over) meant the visuals had to be clear and compelling, and an aggressive tempo to fit the style of the brand.
In this spot, we introduce Booker Noe, the founder of Knob Creek, and impart upon the viewer a famous “bookerism,” while a kind of animated infographic ties into the VO and harkens to the southen prohibition-era styling of the brand.
Here’s the boards.
And here’s the final spot.
The spot obviously received a perfect style treatment, which I can’t really take credit for. All the key frames were produced by great designers before I got involved. My contribution was to replicate the keyframes faithfully for the animatic and provide ideas for transitions, which seem to have turned out great. It’s always a group effort.
Just a quick one this week. Got a lot of stuff going on.
So here we have some boards I did last year for a Ultimate Fighter/NOS tie-in. Everyone knows that the secret to success is to drink as many energy drinks as possible, and UFC fighters are no exception. And for that extra edge on the competition, there’s no substitute for NOS. It’s just plain science.
As by means of proving this statement, the client had me draw a some captured moments from existing UFC fights and juxtapose them with training gear and cans of NOS being downed dramatically. Case closed.
I’m a fan of UFC and mixed martial arts in general, and I love drawing muscles straining and action poses and anatomy, so this was a fun project to work on. These frames are heavily referenced from provided photos, but not traced. They are a little sketchy due to the tight deadline but I think it helped preserve a sense of action in the frames.
Hope you liked them. Oh, and apparently the pitch went well, since they made the commercial shortly thereafter: