The Colonie editor, Bob Ackerman, and renowned director, Joe Pytka, recently paired up to create a dramatic spot for McDonald’s, out of Burrell Communications. Driven by realistic, gritty, cinematic style footage, the :60 commercial, entitled, Good Things, tells the story of a group of African-American teenagers hanging out on dark inner city streets. At first glance it seems that they might have some questionable plans for the evening. However, the story arc soon reveals the group to be a force of optimism, hope and the shared spirit at the heart of their community.
“Visual storytelling can be a difficult balance between creating a cohesive story, and withholding information to create a compelling arc. I always try to find an intriguing way to open a spot, and then build from there,” says Ackerman. “Pytka never fails to provide an editor with a multitude of options and this spot was no exception.”
Burrell Communications tapped the full range of The Colonie’s editorial, visual FX and finishing services for the commercial, enabling their team to provide the kind of efficient, seamless workflow needed for a quick turnaround. Footage was received on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and by midday Thursday Ackerman had a cut ready for the agency, and presented it to the client on Friday.
Tom Dernulc, the head The Colonie’s VFX department, created a number of visual elements that were integral to strengthening a few of the key points in the narrative. There were no intermediary shots of the final mural as it was being painted, so Dernulc supplemented the footage, filling in the art work on a couple of shots, and recreating the skyline, so the mural could be shown in various stages of completion to create a more impactful final reveal.
Cut to Marvin Gaye’s iconic song, Inner City Blues, the commercial follows the young people through desolate streets, past a wall with graffiti that reads, No Future. The group meets up and begins hatching a plan. Then, with spray cans in hand, they disperse, leaving the viewer to assume that they’ll be venting frustration and negative feelings with graffiti throughout the neighborhood.
The scenario takes an unexpected turn when the teenagers begin to paint uplifting words – like joy, hope, and dreams – transforming building facades and dumpsters into artful canvases with positive messages. The group of young men put the finishing touches on a large mural of the city skyline with the word love above it. As they admire their work a friend arrives with breakfast from McDonald’s – and sharing the meal becomes part of the celebration of their achievement.
The commercial closes as daybreak comes, bathing the city in golden light as a father and son happen upon the mural. They smile, appreciating what these young people have created. The boy’s face appears in the center of a heart, and we see the McDonald’s arches in rainbow colors above the tag, I’m Lovin’ It, and a link to 365.black, a McDonald’s website hosting the Youth Awards, which was established to recognize black teens who make a difference within their communities through vision, compassion and diligence.
“The storytelling of the edit, along with the powerful soundtrack of the Marvin classic, we knew we had something special. Another amazing fact is we hardly made any changes from Bob's initial cut. That says it all,” says Lewis Williams, CCO of Burrell Communications. "I have to applaud our client for allowing us to produce such an authentic idea. On reviewing the cut for the first time it brought me and the team to tears.”
Ackerman, who collaborated closely with Williams and the agency’s creative team, noted, “Lewis is a veteran ad man, who understands the value of a story. It’s one of the things that elevates this type of work and it is a privilege to be part of that.”
“The Burrell team is always generous with its trust, and the relationship we have built over the past couple years has led to some outstanding work… especially for my reel,” says The Colonie editor and partner.
Title: Good Things :60
Type of Project: National Broadcast Spot
Agency/Client: Burrell Communications / Chicago
CCO: Lewis Williams
Producer: Debra Dale
GCD: Rebecca Williams
CD/Write: Lisa Mconnell
ACD/Art Director: Winston Chueng
Production Company: Pytka Commercial Production Company / Los Angeles
Director: Joe Pytka
DP: Joe Pytka
Producer: Gretchen Siss
Editorial Company: The Colonie / Chicago
Creative Editor: Bob Ackerman
Finishing: Tom Dernulc
Executive Producer: Mary Caddy
Visual FX/Animation Company: The Colonie / Chicago
Color Correction: Filmworkers Club / Chicago
Color Grader: Michael Mazur
Audio + Sound Company: Mix Kitchen /Chicago
Mixer: Sam Fishkin
Music Licensing Track: Inner City Blues
Performed by: Marvin Gaye
The Colonie www.TheColonie.com