"I exist! I do, I do!"
Bent Image Labs' Ken Lidster worked with Deutsch/LA to create this animated fest of a spot.
With a nod to the stop-motion/Rudolph animation specials of yore, our Diet Dr Pepper hero joins the unbelievable Santa, the Easter Bunny, a leprechaun, the Tooth Fairy, Sasquatch, and an alien in a spartan support group room to discuss how we can make people believe.
"So you want people to believe there's a satisfying diet drink? Good luck with that one, Bub"
"You can wait your whole life and never get a commercial script with such an outstanding plot. I thought this was the best thing I'd ever read before I even got to the end of the first sentence," noted Lidster. "The folks at Deutsch really hit a home run with this one, and I'm so glad they looked to Bent to make this happen."
The process for creating this campaign parallels work Lidster established for JWT New York a few years back. Lipton Brisk's Dojo featured a stop-motion battle between martial arts legend Bruce Lee, the Karate Kid and his master, Mr. Miyagi, which earned an animation category honor in the 2000 AICP Show and inclusion in the MoMA's film archives. Lidster also directed memorable stop-motion campaigns for Chips Ahoy, while Bent Image is known for countless `Rudolph' inspired visuals including OfficeMax (Santa's Helper) with Eddie Steeples, AFLAC with an animated flying goose, and two Alltel campaigns.
Lidster and the rest of the Bent team worked closely with the agency on all stages of the project, from developing the characters' personalities, going from character sketches through a variety of clay models to pop through staging, and final animation performance. Deutsch also visited Bent's Portland studio several times to approve pre-production elements, final lighting, initial scene preparation, post production, and final color correct.
Bent created duplicates of the set and triples of the nine-inch-high characters to streamline production. They then shot the stop-motion on high-res digital cameras. Certain shots, such as the soda pour, were done on one of the studio's in-house Red cameras, using the Red Ultra Prime lenses.
"Ken is a master when it comes to projects such as this," noted Bent Partner/EP Ray Di Carlo. "He's second-to-none with character development and has an amazing attention to detail work ethic. In typical Bent fashion, the team rallied together to create the entire campaign in-house. The agency came to us with a great idea and we're fortunate they were such strong collaborators - we're really happy with the final product."
Client: Diet Dr Pepper
Spots Title: I Exist
Air Date: September 2009
Agency: Deutsch, LA
President/Chief Creative Officer: Eric Hirshberg
SVP/Group CD: Chris Ribiero
Sr. Designer: Marius Gedgaudas
Sr. Producer: Tracy Jones
SVP, Group Account Director: Valencia Gayles
Account Director: Helen Murray
Prod Co: Bent Image Lab/Portland, OR
Director: Ken Lidster
EP: Ray Di Carlo
Sr Producer: Tsui Ling Toomer
Producer: Kara Place
Coordinator: Ryan Shanholtzer
DP: Mark Eifert
Product Shoot DP: Jay Wesley Jones
Stage Manager: Jim Birkett
AD/Set Designer: Curt Enderle
Art Department Director: Solomon Burbridge
Art Department: Greg Fosmire, Marty Easterday, Kimi Kaplowitz, Mary Blankenburg, Daniel Miller, Huy Vu, Jayme Hansen, Kate Fenker, Brandi Cochrane
Storyboard Artist: Steve Hess
Character Design: Brett Superstar, Steve Hess, Monique Ligons, Colin Batty
Principal Animators: Jerold Howard, Jeff Riley
Editorial Supervisor: JD Dawson
After Effects Supervisor: Tarn Fox
Composite Artists (After Effects): Orland Nutt, Brian Kinkley, Jay Twenge, Sean Saul
Composite Artists (2D): Traci Cook
Post Prod: Downstream/Portland, OR
Colorist: Jim Barrett