Tuesday, April 17, 2007

UPS Whiteboard Commercials

+ Mr Kottke really likes those UPS whiteboard commercials. And I have to say I do as well. There's something hypnotic about watching someone draw and especially as they transform one object into another simply by erasing one line and adding another. I had to wonder who was the drawing guy in the spot, and I sort of had a feeling it was either the art director or CD of the account. Turns out my gut was right!. Well whaddya know. :)
This particular nonperformer—the floppy-haired fellow standing at the whiteboard—is named Andy Azula, and he's actually the creative director on the campaign. Azula conceived of these ads as a refreshing change from typical shipping spots, which show trucks and package handlers and businesspeople meeting deadlines. To give UPS a sense of what he planned, he filmed sample spots with himself as the whiteboard guy and with co-workers from his ad agency behind the camera. He never imagined he'd appear in the final versions, but when UPS tested various other actors (and kept Azula in the mix), focus groups consistently picked him as their favorite. Azula's guess is that while the other actors had more charisma and energy, his low-key, unpolished delivery made him seem less like an annoying pitchman. As an art director who'd made countless storyboards, he also had a knack for fast, fun sketching. (Though a professional illustrator was employed on the set to speed things up by redrawing the whiteboard between takes. "He had to repress his skills to imitate my style," says Azula.)

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