Track Team

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H.S.I., T.A.G., N.E.R.D. The latest video project for the latter is an anagram lover's dream: Death's Grin, Danger Shit and Grandest Hi are a few choice rearrangements. But the production company, McCann Worldgroup offshoot and hip hop group, are into something way racier than Scrabulous this time, developing an integrated idea around the group's "Everybody Nose" track. With the track about cocaine abuse, the video delves into the naughty world of Last Night's Party with a boatload of frequently semi-nude hipster extras and a big, dancing party nose.

Pharrell Williams surveys the set.
Pharrell Williams surveys the set.
"We're learning a lot about the music business in real time," T.A.G. creative director Geoff Edwards says. Unlike spots, where a board is approved beforehand, "you produce the videos and you go to the MTVs and the VH1 and you go with the edit." Evidently MTV wasn't too excited about the vibe of "Everybody Nose," refusing to air the video. "In this case it had nothing to do with what we shot and the program, it had to do with sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. One of them."

Edwards says N.E.R.D. leader Pharrell Williams' idea behind the video was simple: "Isn't it sad when you see a beautiful swan turn into an ugly duckling." Michelle Ross and Rebecca Skinner, head of sales and executive producer, respectively at H.S.I., contacted Edwards to do a music video. "I could have done it myself," he says, but decided to turn it into a T.A.G. project so his team could stretch their legs with something outside of advertising, "create an integrated program around a music track, treat this like they treat Halo, like an Xbox or Zune project." T.A.G. developed some treatments, Edwards went back to H.S.I. with the party theme and got Williams to assent to the notion that "the most interesting part of this program might not be the video." H.S.I. director Diane Martel shot the video in a nightclub in the Flatiron district in New York City, which was in itself a celebrity affair—in addition to producer/vocalist Williams, Kanye West and Lindsay Lohan came through to appear. The production briefly spun into chaos on the second day of shooting when a fight erupted between two extras, part of a motley crue cast for the shoot, and ended with PA's mopping up blood and union workers threatening to walk.

"On the second day, right after we shot the Lindsay Lohan VIP scene, [the fight] was the result of a small argument that happened, it was just a freak accident in which someone went to hit another person and he cut himself on a glass," Edwards says, denying the blood and gore account that MTV News provided. "Their assessment of it was blown a little bit out of proportion. We did see a skirmish go down, but it wasn't a bloodbath massacre."

Some of the crew did leave, however, uncomfortable to continue shooting. "The night took an interesting turn because union staff that was involved, some of them felt uncomfortable," Edwards says. Martel and the remaining crew members finished the shoot.

KAWS' nose with the ladies, from lastnightsparty.com
KAWS' nose with the ladies, from lastnightsparty.com
The video pushes viewers to everyonenose.com, produced with help from McCann, San Francisco's interactive department. Visitors (that are over 18) can mouse over tiles styled like Last Night's Party, a site created by photographer Merlin Bronques, sort of a travel chronicle of debauched behavior which came of age a few years ago at the height of New York's Misshapes parties. As visitors to everyonenose.com ogle at what could double as an American Apparel catalog, the photos disappear from the site in the same style of those removed from Last Night's Party in the cold light of day.

"[Bronques] actually was on the set while we were shooting the video, we asked him to partner on this," Edwards says. "He took shots, the video leads to his site, [leading you to think] was this an actual video that was shot, or was this a party that was shot by Bronques?" As the shots are removed from the site, ultimately the visitor is left with a choice, to buy the tracks from iTunes or Zune's Marketplace (Zune is another T.A.G. client) and to visit Last Night's Party for more photos from the shoot. The whole strategy, Edwards says, is "driving you to purchase, to take this experience and have it be immersive but end with the user buying something."

And they'd want to do it again. "We had such an amazing time stepping outside of what we normally do to create an integrated marketing program for something else."

Merlin Bronques shot T.A.G. CD Geoff Edwards and H.S.I. director Dianne Martel (right) as they went over the script with another member of the crew
Merlin Bronques shot T.A.G. CD Geoff Edwards and H.S.I. director Dianne Martel (right) as they went over the script with another member of the crew
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