McDonald's - Early Riser - (2015) :30 (USA)

Being a good husband isn’t just about remembering to buy flowers on birthdays and anniversaries. It’s also about simple, everyday gestures, like getting out of bed early to bring breakfast for your hungry spouse.

A new spot for McDonald’s, directed by STORY’s Blair Hayes, follows a man as he rises before the crack of dawn, makes a quick run to the drive-through window at McDonald’s and then heads out on the freeway. When he pulls up to a tollbooth, he surprises the attendant by handing her the bag containing an Egg McMuffin. It turns out, she is his even earlier rising spouse.

Hayes relates the narrative through simple but artfully constructed scenes and uses just two brief snippets of dialogue to tell the story. The look on the woman’s face when she recognizes her husband suggests they’ve been together for years. The product’s presence in the story is unobtrusive and natural.

Hayes, who just finished directing the independent feature A Teacher’s Obsession and is currently prepping his next movie, Great Plains¸ says his recent long-form experience carried over to the ad . “When the commercial opens, there’s no music, no soundtrack. It’s under-lit, very cinematic,” he says. “There’s nothing to suggest that it’s a commercial. I looked at it as storytelling.”

Hayes coached his actors to avoid commercial clichés and give more nuanced and emotionally weighty performances. The director adds that the agency deserves credit for a concept built on authenticity and a subtle product message. “Leo Burnett came up with a terrific idea…the things we do for our spouses,” he says. “It was a perfect story to tell in 30 seconds.”

Agency: Leo Burnett, Chicago
Production: STORY. Blair Hayes, Director/Director of Photography; Mark Androw and Cliff Grant, Executive Producers.

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