Rite Aid - "Scrambler", (2013) :30 (USA)

A Common Thread’s Brendan Williams has directed a new campaign for Rite Aid that presents beautifully-crafted portraits of seniors who are healthy and having fun. Three new spots, conceived by Marc USA, promote Rite Aid’s newly-launched Wellness 65+, a first-of-its-kind customer loyalty program for seniors.
Swimmer opens on a remarkably fit, 67-year-old-man who is about to dive into a swimming pool. As the voice-over says, “Every now and then, you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘How did I get here?’” the man is seen having his blood pressure checked by a Rite Aid pharmacist. The other two spots, Water Fight and Scrambler, feature a woman engaged in a playful backyard water fight with her grandson, and a woman riding an amusement park ride with her granddaughter. Each includes a message about partnering with Rite Aid to stay healthy.

Williams gave each spot the feel of a treasured memory through a unique in-camera effect that created the illusion of freezing time. The effect involved a custom rig that allowed a camera (in this instance a Phantom Miro shooting at a high frame rate) to travel 60 feet in one second. The end result is a smooth pull-back with time appearing to come to a halt.
“It worked beautifully and the shots are very easy on the eye,” Williams notes. “It wasn’t possible to use the rig setup in each location but, we achieved the same effect by using sliders (mini dolly tracks), a wider lens and a rope and pulley system. A very strong grip ripped the camera back until it hit a cushioned stop zone. Worked a treat!’
“I love adding something special to every job,” adds Williams. “It’s a privilege to invade people’s living rooms, so we must entertain them.”
Williams was careful to cast actors who looked healthy but weren’t overly hip. The performances he elicited from them are warm, sincere and believable. “My approach to working with actors involves a minimum of conversation,” he explains. “Some directors spend ten minutes talking to talent before a take; I try to do it in six words. I keep it simple and actors appreciate that. It works.”
The ads have been very well received and are spurring intense interest in the Wellness 65+ program. Williams, meanwhile, has already directed another spot for the brand targeted toward flu season. It’s been a busy period for the director, who has also recently completed new campaigns for a car line, an insurance company and a tourism bureau. “People tend to come back when they work with me,” Williams says. “I’m proud of that."

Agency: Marc USA, Pittsburgh
Production: A Common Thread. Brendan Williams, director; J.P. McMahon and Tristan Drew, executive producers.

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