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Case Study: FORD F-150

Hello again! About two months ago I was emailed by one of my favoritest commercial and production studios, Brand New School, about chipping in some design frames for the new FORD campaign, those cool graphic ones where Dennis Leary talks all cool-dude over the top of the footage and type.

I said yes to the offer, as I'm not a complete and total goomba. Half goomba, yes, total goomba, not quite yet.

This would mark the second time I'd have the opportunity to design for those campaigns, the first being a couple years back for another awesome place called Visual Creatures. I remember enjoying myself as I designed, as I tend to do, enjoying the challenge of bringing something new to their already very iconic campaign.

This time, however, would be different. Duh duh DUUUHHH!

First of all, these new ones were to air at the start of the college and NFL football seasons. I like to watch those seasons of sports, so that's cool. Secondly, Brand New School wanted me to go stylized, like, very stylized. 

Jonathan Notarro, who runs Brand New School out of NYC, got on the phone with us and told us to go crazy. We could always come back from the depths of the insanity, but we needed to get there. 

I was on Cloud 19. Ten clouds higher than Cloud 9. I love the opportunity of working on such large campaigns, mainly because it means that the work you're doing will be SEEN. 

Unseen work is lonely work, quite possibly the loneliest. And let's face it, with today's DVR sitch being what it is---a lot of the commercial work we do gets fast-forwarded through. And that's fine. I do it myself. 

Anywho, knowing that this was for the football season, for FORD, for worldwide viewing, I needed to bring the ol' 'A' game. Wellp, I've never had that game, so my 'B-' game might have to suffice. 

I do have an 'A' game at self-deprecation, though.

I buckled in. I clamped down. I walked the cat.

After a couple times around the block with Buttercup, it was time to begin designing. Here are a couple of the first frames I did.

Ok, so these pretty much suck. Too static. Too clean. Too boring. But, this was great to get in front of Jonathan because he was able to tell me to not worry about exact realism in the players, to stylize them more. I know he said that in the beginning, too, but people's interpretation of 'stylized' varies. The figure above is stylized in terms of contrast and value. He's black and white, which isn't normal. 

But we needed more than a color shift in our characters. This needed to be NEW. This needed to be COOL. 

Plus, there would be no live action shoot of any football players, do there would be no footage to 'treat.' What I did in that second frame up there is called 'treating footage,' meaning there IS or there WILL BE footage that they're going to use for the spot, it will just need to be graphically 'treated.' But, this FORD spot will only be footage of the truck. I should have known that already, I'd only been looking at recent FORD spots for the past hour. 

Maybe I was on my way to becoming full goomba. 

Before that happened, however, I took the cat on another walk. Thought about life. Thought about the wind. The trees. The bushes and the leaves.

And then I stopped rhyming and got back to work. Time to draw some badass looking football dudes. 

Here's where I got to over the next couple days.

Big. Mean. Sleek. Stylized. And all of them with the tiniest of heads, my favorite size of heads.

These were an absolute joy to work on and would totally give me big-time street-cred back in Texas, the land of the FORD and the home of the F-150.

Brand New School was pitching on this versus quite a few studios out there, and I believe these frames helped win the job for them. I think Ford secretly must like tiny heads, too. 

Now that I've designed a commercial for FORD, I wondered aloud via Twitter if it was possible to get a truck as, like, a bonus thank you. Like a handshake thank you. Here's a thank you in the form of a truck. The Ford twitter people said NO. 

But that's fine, because living in California down in Santa Monica, I can't say that I've ever even seen a parking spot that could fit oneof these hogmollies.

Thanks to Brand New School and Jonathan Notarro for giving me a shot on these! The final spots turned out totally radical and can be seen here:

Until next time!!!

Justin HarderComment