The first quarter of 52 Sellout is already in the books and I’m counting down my top ten favorites! It’s been a lot of fun to see how the project has developed and evolved, thank you guys so much for watching, sharing, and making suggestions! So here we go:
#10 Best Pickup Truck Song Since Like a Rock!
When I started 52 Sellout I knew I was going to tackle the Chevy truck “Like a Rock” campaign at some point, and it happened early in week 2. I’m really happy with the way the music turned out but it was tricky to get visuals for this one because I don’t own a truck and I live in Brooklyn, which, while scenic, doesn’t quite have the Heartland look I needed for the ad. Luckily I was able to download some B-roll footage straight from Chevy’s PR site, and I even ventured into a frigid Prospect Park in Brooklyn to get the outdoor shots of me trying to look outdoorsy.
#9 Super Bowl Dead Kid Returns
No project spoofing advertising would be complete without a Super Bowl ad during Super Bowl week. I decided to bring back the “dead kid” from the previous year’s terrible Nationwide Insurance ad and turn him into an emo kid with his own song. It was fun to shoot but it took 2 days to get the eyeliner off.
#8 Kars for Tots
If you’ve listened to the radio in the U.S., especially news radio, you’ve most likely heard the 1-877-Kars-4-Kids jingle on the radio and it probably made you want to tear your radio out of the dashboard. It’s widely cited as one of the most annoying jingles out there, so I had to try to top it. I think I came close, but there’s just no way to beat the original in annoyingness.
#7 Iron Maiden Airlines
This is one of my favorite ideas of the series as I’ve always been fascinated with Bruce Dickinson’s (lead singer of Iron Maiden) commercial flying career. When I heard that Iron Maiden had tricked out a Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet for their 2016 tour I knew I had to make this ad. For the jingle I knew it had to be fast, hard, and have some cool stops and accents. The beginning half of the ad with the slower music under the exposition was a fun addition and not originally planned. But once I decided to add the slower piece I was thrilled to be able to throw in some guitar solo harmonies, like Maiden are well known for.
#6 Prax’s War Auto
I was late to the Mad Max: Fury Road party but when I finally saw the film in January I couldn’t get enough. I love the world that was created and the brilliant way the story showed us that world. And as a musician I of course loved the Doof Warrior, but even more than the flame-throwing guitar I loved his truck with the giant, industrial-sized taiko drum ensemble riding on the back. For the music I mixed in really heavy guitar riffs and several layers of drums, and enjoyed dressing up in the crazy War Boy face powder and leather to scream out the pitch in front of a green screen (though I’m sure my neighbors weren’t so thrilled with me that day).
Antidepressant ads have been spoofed quite a bit in the comedy world so I wanted to try to make my version of it more about the ethics of direct-to-consumer marketing of psychiatric drugs. After all, marketing antidepressants isn’t allowed in any country except the U.S. and New Zealand. And since every pharmaceutical ad has to have that long, crazy list of side effects and warnings I figured the best way to present them would be by rapping over an upbeat dance groove. The visuals on this video turned out better than I hoped, and the floating emoji faces crack me up every time, along with the sped up video for the dance break. Good times, but no glow sticks were harmed in the making of this video.
#4 That Thing You Want
This is one of the first ideas I came up with when I decided to do the 52 Sellout project. I’ve never been a fan of the twee music that gadget and tech ads use, or twee music in general, so I had some fun with it, trying to sound as bouncy and cutesy-poo as possible while poking fun at the way we fetish our tech.
#3 Uber & You
When Uber was fighting the New York City Council they ran a bunch of ads in the city that were really over the top. The looked like political hit pieces from a shady superPAC, extolling the free market virtues of Uber and vilifying cab drivers and “Big Taxi,” conveniently not mentioning that their “surge pricing” policy is basically institutionalized gouging, and glossing over the fact that they’re going to cut every driver out of the equation the minute self-driving cars come online. Also, they claimed they’d bring over 10,000 jobs to NYC while also claiming that none of their drivers are employees, which was a nice bit of having it both ways. Their tone, tactics, and policies just annoyed me so I struck back the only way I know how, with musical comedy! Take that, multi-billion dollar company! I’m sure they’re shaking in their Teva sandals.
#2 Lawyers With Soul
This one turned out to be all about the guitar solo. It was a very simple idea, I just wanted to do a personal injury commercial that was more smooth and cool than the dorky spokesman talking to the camera or the awkward testimonials from previous clients. But the result was better than expected and gave me a chance to cut loose a little with the axe.
#1 El Inmolado
This is not only the craziest one out of the first 13, it’s the best fusion of music, narration, and graphics so far in the series. The music builds as the description gets crazier and crazier, and I’m really happy with the overall look of the piece.
Now for the Honorable Mentions:
This one was all about the music but the visuals are really limited. I’m really happy with the arrangement, especially the horns and the son cubano vibe I was going for. If I had more time and resources I would have turned this into a full on beer commercial parody, but there’s only so much I can do certain weeks as a one-man operation.
I like the idea and the music, especially since I got to do some finger-picking on the acoustic, but it was hard to get quality visuals together for this one in a short period of time. My Brooklyn apartment doesn’t have a very photogenic kitchen so I was limited in what I could shoot on my own. The background photograph is one I actually took at my mom’s place in Texas, a nice sunrise shot, so at least it has some authentic morning energy in it. This is also the last week with a host segment in the video. Though I like the idea of introducing the videos and giving some background on the idea I think it’s more fun to have the commercials stand on their own, especially the really weird ones (El Inmolado!). Hopefully if people are interested in the background they’ll come here and read my blog. Hopefully. Hello? Anyone?
Here’s to the Gremlins
So why is the one that started it all at the very bottom of my list? Again it’s the limitation of the video side of it. The X Ambassadors Renegade campaign was the inspiration for the whole series because it really showed how much has changed in the music industry and the culture. Here was a new band writing a song specifically for a corporate client, that client promoting the band in their global campaign, with the record company in on the whole thing. So even though it’s not the funniest or slickest looking video of the bunch it was what got 52 Sellout off the ground so it has a special place in my heart.
So there you have it, the 1st Quarter of 52 Sellout in the books! Thanks for watching and reading and stay tuned for more silliness!