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If there’s one treat Wendy’s won’t be handing out this Halloween season, it’s cold and soggy french fries. Production company ArtClass teamed up with agency VMLY&R to create a scary-funny campaign called “HalloWeendy’s” celebrating Wendy’s “Guaranteed Hot-and-Crispy Fries.” Directed by Vincent Peone, the spots parody iconic horror films to show the dread of bad fries, with some salty digs at Wendy’s fast-food rivals added in for good fun. “Fryface” (:30), “Soggyfreist” (:30) and “Attack of the Soggy Fries!” (:30) launched on social channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and on YouTube on October 27th.
“Fryface” makes a chase scene with Michael Myers look like a walk in the park, as a night prowler donning a ‘tater-made “King” mask pursues his next victim with a gross fry instead of a knife.
“Soggyfreist” channels whispering voices from a supernatural realm of bad fries as a young girl stares into the post-broadcast static of her ‘80s television. A ghostly hand pushes through the television waving a box of fries so grotesque, she lets out a chilling shriek.
“Attack of the Soggy Fries!” calls back to ‘50s horror classics with a town under siege by massive soggy fries. A panicked woman attempts to escape the invasion in her car but doesn’t have a chance with these dreadful spuds.
“It’s spooky season and we’re all huge horror fans,” says McKay Hathaway, VMLY&R Group Creative Director. “So, we thought it would be fun to parody classic horror films. But as scary as those can be, nothing gives us nightmares like cold and soggy fries. I’d take an undead demon over a sad, damp potato slice, any day.”
ArtClass left no stone unturned in creating a retro mise-en-scène of equal parts comedy and classic horror. Presented with the concept and a selection of films to parody, Peone and VMLY&R dove deep into the classic moments, tropes, and filmmaking techniques associated with the horror genre, exploring various mashups of the films and, more importantly, how to reimagine them with cold, soggy fries cast as the villain.
“The key with these spots was creating a discernible difference between spoof and parody -- and to make those parodies specific, clean, and honest,” explains Peone. With spoofs, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to be funny. So, we shot these spots to be as authentic to the films we were parodying, and heightened the suspense for the big reveal – that there is nothing scarier than cold and soggy fries.”
DP Jeremy Osbern established the look and feel of both spots using softening filters to bend the light and mimic the feel of old film cameras typical of classic horror flicks.
From Farrah Fawcett-style wigs to gutted analog TVs to creepy old lodges in the forest, art direction was also instrumental to the retro-fied production, while tapping into both the fear factor and campiness of beloved horror films.
Each spot opens with a period-style pre-roll reminiscent of an old-school night at the drive-in movies: “A Wendy’s Production” is carved into a jack-o'-lantern for one; an RKO-inspired graphic introduces the other.
In addition to the live-action, ArtClass post-produced the spots in-house via its newly acquired Midwest production and post facility in Kansas City.
“This was a dream project,” concludes Peone. “Not only was it a rare opportunity to combine my background as a student of horror filmmaking and the comedy work I did earlier in my career at College Humor, but also a perfect opportunity for ArtClass to showcase its capabilities as an end-to-end content creation shop for our agency partners. The team at VMLY&R were so trusting, dialed in, and ready to laugh and make something fun from the word ‘go.’ I hope the viewers laugh as much as we did making it.”
Spot Titles: “Fryface,” “Soggyfreist,” and “Attack of the Soggy Fries!”
Production Company: ArtClass
Director: Vincent Peone
DP: Jeremy Osbern
Stop Motion DP: Stuart Bury
Managing Partner: Geno Imbriale
Managing Director, Live: Rebecca Niles
Managing Director, Post: Corwin Carroll
Head of Production: Sparkle Jones
Senior Producer: Johnny Eastlund
Production Coordinator: Kat Garelli, Tatianna Rodriguez
Art Director: Corey Goering
Production Designer: Anastasia Rendina
Sound Mixer: Danny Bowersox
Editorial, Post & Animation Company: ArtClass
Editor: James Lee (“Fryface”), Camille Getz (“Soggyfreist” and “Attack of the Soggy Fries!”)
Assistant Editor: Sara Baum
Post Producer: Savannah Cannistraro
Assistant Post Producer: Hannah Squeglia
Animation: Tyler Keith
VFX: Matthew Steidl
Colorist: Taylre Jones
Sound Mixer: Julian Bickford
VMLY&R is a global brand and customer experience agency that harnesses creativity, technology, and culture to create connected brands. Named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Global Marketing Agencies for five consecutive years, VMLY&R is made up of more than 12,000 employees worldwide with principal offices in Kansas City, New York, Detroit, London, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. The agency is behind award-winning campaigns for blue chip client partners including Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Dell, Ford, Intel, New Balance, Pfizer and Wendy's. For more information, visit www.vmlyr.com. VMLY&R is a WPP company (NYSE: WPP).
ArtClass is a next-gen production company specializing in traditional commercials, shorts, and branded content. Its team of internet-born creators and heavy-hitting producers means it can effortlessly shift between large-scale shoots and jobs that require more nimble production approaches -- all with artistry at the forefront. Recent clients include AT&T, Amazon, ESPN, Kellogg’s, MLB, Netflix, P&G, and State Farm.