Director Johannes Gamble of superstudio recently partnered with ad agency DDB Chicago on a viral campaign for summer’s newest beer, Bud Light Lime. Created for YouTube consumption, the spots introduce Limey, Anheuser-Busch’s new Bud Light Lime mascot, who does stunts and features the tagline, “It’s amazing what a little lime can do.”
“This was one of those ever-evolving projects, which kept growing into something bigger, and blurred the lines between TV and Internet,” says Will St. Clair, DDB Chicago VP & Executive Producer. “We needed someone who had the experience and versatility to bridge these realms. Johannes not only had the right mindset, he also embraced the challenges and found solutions. He was inventive enough to work within our budget; he materially improved upon our concept and developed it into something both cool and doable.”
In “Coasters,” the life-of-the-party lime juices up a house bash, courtesy of some card-throwing magic. From whirling boomerang action to a round of coaster darts to hamburger adornment, Limey wows the crowd with a flick of his wrist. The dynamic spot ends with a grand finale: a Bud Light Lime contraption built with beer boxes, bottles and party gear, which Limey launches with an incredible coaster toss. The hand-written tagline appears on two coasters lodged into a doorframe like ninja stars.
The other two virals follow a similar premise with Limey working his smooth moves. In “Skateboard,” pool partygoers cheer on Limey who clears outdoor furniture and beer-bottle obstacle courses on a skateboard before slam-dunking a basketball. “Breakdance” finds L-boy in a B-boy battle, resurrecting old-skool moves like the windmill and, to his round-headed advantage, the headspin.
For Director Johannes Gamble, the Bud Light Lime campaign was an opportunity to show off his conceptual, creative and visual effects prowess. During the initial discussions with DDB Chicago, Gamble provided a photo of himself with a lime character he created and Photoshopped, as well as a mock-up video in which he fashioned a temporary Limey outfit from his wife’s yoga ball and wore a blue shirt, which enabled him to chroma-key the top of his body off and move his arms down. His treatment also included background information on the different formats and styles of viral videos.
“The agency wanted a small green character that could do amazing tricks,” explains Gamble. “I thought it’d be fun to take this concept literally with the character as a lime. Having been interested and living in the world of YouTube and Internet movies, I knew the playing field and how to capture the right essence of this genre. Our work had to be authentic to the YouTube audience.”
With less than two weeks to prep, superstudio worked with Mark Rappaport, Lead Designer of Creature Effects, to design a durable Limey costume based on Gamble’s yoga-ball prototype. The final piece was created from rubbery lightweight foam that was adjustable for the different talent. World-renowned skateboarder Eric Koston was cast as Limey in “Coasters” and “Skateboard” while dancer Ivan Velez played the part in “Breakdance.”
“There is a fine line between the commercial requirements and making the content natural for YouTube,” adds Gamble. “We shot the elements nicer than they needed to be on the [Panasonic] HVX 200 and worked backwards to degrade things from there.”
The main challenge for Gamble and his production team was creating three different spots and an eight-minute profile on Limey within a tight turnaround. All were shot in two days, and teaser versions of the spots were edited and finished within eight days for the client to premiere at a vendor convention. The “faux-file,” about the story behind Limey and Bud Light Lime, aired on ESPN’s SportsCenter earlier this month.
Other challenges included making on-the-fly adjustments during the shoot, costume modifications, hundreds of hours of rotoscoping and comping, and an unfortunate allergic reaction Gamble had to a nearby tree. Ring of Fire assisted on some of the last-minute finishing on the viral versions of “Skateboard” and “Breakdance.” Gamble edited the spots on Final Cut Pro, and created the ambitious visual effects in After Effects.
“This was a great collaboration with the agency,” remarks Dana Garman Jacobsen, Founder/Executive Producer of superstudio. “They were very trusting of Johannes coming from a viral mentality.”
“It was great to have complete creative freedom on our character design,” adds Nathan de la Rionda, Head of Production of superstudio. “We were able to give Limey his own personality and signature moves. This was a fun project for us because we were experimenting with and fine-tuning things as we went along.”
“The creatives at DDB were so nice and fun to work with,” concludes Gamble. “We tossed ideas back and forth, and kept building momentum around this whole campaign. Our whole process, especially the set, was buzzing with energy and excitement. There was never a dull moment.”
superstudio was launched in 2007 by Executive Producer Dana Garman Jacobsen, an industry vet who’s worked with notable production companies Propaganda Films, RSA, Tony Kaye and Supply and Demand. The small high-end boutique provides concentrated and unparalleled hands-on support for its selective roster of directors – an enviable and much-desired luxury these days. Garman and Head of Production Nathan de la Rionda are tirelessly committed to the growth of their directors, spearheading and collaborating on all assignments, and acting as a deep resource of ideas, execution and most importantly — laughs.
Product: Bud Light Lime
Spot Titles / Airdates: “Coasters” May/June 2008
Ad Agency: DDB Chicago
Creative Director: Charles Rachford
Copywriter: Yvonne Chia
Art Director: Jamie Overkamp
VP, Executive Producer: Will St. Clair
Producer: Kevin James
Production Company: superstudio
Director: Johannes Gamble
DP: Ty Evans
Executive Producer: Dana Garman
Producer: Nathan de la Rionda
Where shot: Van Nuys, CA
Editorial, VFX & Postproduction Company: superstudio Editor/VFX Supervisor & Artist: Johannes Gamble
Sound Design Company: superstudio
Sound Designer: Johannes Gamble