Still Images In Great Advertising, is a column where Suzanne Sease discovers great advertising images and then speaks with the photographers about it.
When I was at The Martin Agency, I had the pleasure of working with Hunter Freeman on many of occasions. Hunter has always had a great knack for mixing humor with high production value and this campaign for the San Francisco Zoo is no exception. When I reached out to Hunter, he and his rep Heather Elder were excited to talk about this ad campaign for twofifteenmccann.
Suzanne: There are so many elements to this campaign, how did you shoot them and later composite?
Hunter: It’s such a smart, funny campaign, and making sure that we had all the elements was key. We talked quite a bit about what exactly we wanted to shoot, in order to create the strongest images for the campaign. I scouted the locations, as well visiting the animals at the zoo, and, along with the Ads, we came up with a plan for shooting everything as efficiently as possible. Many people were giving a lot of their time, and I didn’t want to waste a second of it.
On the day of the shoot, although the schedule was tight, we had no problem moving from one shot to the next at our location. It really demonstrated the value of the pre-production time we spent scouting, talking over the ideas of what to shoot, etc. On a separate day after the interiors were shot (it was vital to know the specifics of the scene, such as lighting, perspective, all the details of the POV), I photographed the animals at the zoo. What a crazy, fun, wild day! Does anyone realize how noisy penguins are? How curious they are? How about how soft Koalas are? It was a wonderful day, and just a ton of fun to be around the animals, not to mention their keepers, who are the most dedicated and caring people.
Suzanne: Knowing your quirky sensibility, how much did you add to these concepts to take them over the top. I see your personality all over the penguin with the papers. True?
Hunter: Yes, for me, the most fun is in having all the characters act like everything is just normal, as though working with animals happens every day. That’s what makes it funny to me, since it’s just so incongruous that a penguin would need to make copies. I mean, really, right? And how the heck did it make those copies? Jump up and push the buttons? Creating an image that invites the viewer to think/consider about what’s going adds to the fun. The wrong thing in the right place is great definition of humor, to me. So, I made sure that everything looked like just a normal day at the office… if your co-workers were giraffes and koala bears, that is. Boring meetings, cubicle hell, and paperwork… always paperwork.
Additionally, I worked with Adam Moore at Sugar Digital to create the color palette and look of the finished ads. He is a talented artist, and had wonderful thoughts about how to make the shots really stand out. He and I share a sense of humor about this kind of shot, and his ideas were beautifully implemented. The believability of the ads is seamless – the giraffe (for example) really did look like it was stuck in cubicle hell, working on spreadsheets. “Oh, the humanity!!”
Suzanne: How has shooting this campaign done for the fundraising for the zoo and how has it done in the award shows?
Hunter: These ads gained a lot of attention, which was exactly what the SF Zoo wanted. It’s too early for the award shows, but many blogs and sites have picked it up. Everything was working together for the zoo for these ads: The availability of space in the WSJ was a real plus, and the result of our collaboration allowed them to connect with the kind of donors they need, with smart, targeted ads. And personally, everyone I’ve talked to about them responds really well – they really think they’re funny.
Note: Content for Still Images In Great Advertising is found. Submissions are not accepted.
Hunter Freeman likes finding the art in commerce, the humor in a landscape or the uniqueness in a personality. He also likes movies, long walks on the beach, and clichés. Notwithstanding that stuff, agencies such as Martin/Williams, TBWA Chiat/Day, DDB and Crispin Porter (and companies such as Apple) still have come to him from all over the US for a point of view that includes humor, creativity, and a willingness to work as hard and as long as it takes to do the job. Really. All kidding aside.
APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.