By Jeff Goss, President/Creative Director
We conducted our Brand Exercise “Benefits Testing” to arrive at the primary benefit “End the hungries.” It sounds pretty obvious now, but it wasn’t so obvious before. Product benefits led to options like after-school snack, perfect travel food, most fulfilling and convenient snack, sports energy (this was before all the sports bars today) — even “orange food” was tested.
We went to work on concepts that delivered the benefit in the most compelling and emotional way: black-and-white storyboards, then color, the final script, production company review. After many weeks of reviewing reels, estimates, and talking to producers and directors, we ended up going with the company Squeak Productions in Los Angeles. The shoot was all arranged. A side note: We had a crew of 5 traveling. It was an astronomical cost during the hours we were to depart and return. So, our Account Manager did some research and booked two tickets round-trip for each person, reversing the departures and arrivals, saving a few thousand. Who says Account people aren’t creative?
Well, we checked into our hotel in Santa Monica and took our client out to one of those “in” Hollywood 4-star, highly reviewed, hard-to-get-reservations restaurants in L.A. We know how to save, and those producers know how to spend… It all balances out. The next day we got into the L.A. traffic before dawn and headed to the desert for our 2-day shoot. We had a mock African safari on the scene, complete with rifles and 2 lions — you know, one lion in case the other one misbehaves. In fact, the senior lion would not eat the cracker we offered him. The lion wrangler ending up feeding him chunks of raw beef to get him smacking his lips as if he had eaten the cracker, which he hadn’t. How ironic, a commercial about eating the crackers, and the animal wouldn’t even eat them — a very L.A., health-conscious lion indeed. You might say ahead of his time.
All went well, great talent direction, scenery. Our scene was shot at the location used in the TV series “Roswell.” Well, I got a little frisky and climbed the rocks, up where the lion was, to have a closer look at the action. I glanced over at the lion and made direct eye contact. I’ll never forget his big, gold eyes laced with brown around the edge. I just about fell off the rock when the lion tamer said, “Don’t look at the lion in the eyes; that’s a threat!”