Halloween is right around the corner, and in less than a week, parents around the world will encounter one of the most terrifying beasts known to man -- the cranky, over-sugared kid. That's the idea behind this recent spot for Papa Murphy's Pizza created out of Seattle/Los Angeles agency WDCW, which stars a cavalcade of cuties who morph into nasty gremlins after trick-or-treating and presumably, OD'ing,on the sweet stuff. The simple solution to turning them back to their lovable selves? Papa Murphy's bake-at-home Jack-o-Lantern pizza.
The smiley-faced pie is a yearly offering for the Washington-headquartered take-and-bake pizza brand, and the client had provided the agency with a fairly wide-open brief to promote it to families. "It's quite a tradition for many families to buy one around Halloween, and since it's such a simple, fresh, great-tasting pizza, we didn't have to explain much," said WDCW copywriter Jennie Moore. "That freed us up to spend more time on the fun, scary part."
The final spot reflects a fairly universal family truth: "that hungry kids get cranky and cranky kids melt down," said Ms. Moore. "The pizza solves all those problems because it's good, easy and fun and kids will eat it."
That Jack-o-Pie would have come in handy four years ago one Halloween, when Ms. Moore's then three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Cassidy had her own moment of candy-induced rage.
"She had a four-month-old baby brother to contend with, so her feelings were a little raw, we were at a Halloween party at a neighbor's barn, she was tired, had too much sugar and not enough real food and things started getting ugly," Ms. Moore recalled.
That perfect storm of emotion and sugar culminated in this epic Halloween meltdown that became the muse of the new ad:
The very costume Cassidy wears in the film actually made its way back to the commercial, worn by one of the testy toddlers. "My mom had made her the purple bunny costume the year before that Halloween, but this year,she demanded she wanted to be a purple princess bunny, so we added a crown, tutu and wand," said Ms. Moore.
The home video is so well-crafted -- with a terrifying, high-drama story arc unfolding as the camera falls away from Cassidy, only to come back and find her several feet away, eerily backlight by the light of the barn, rage still,palpable -- that viewers could easily mistake it for a guerilla component of the campaign. But fake stunt video this is not, explained Ms. Moore. "I wish I could say the 'artfulness' of the filming was on purpose, but really it was a lucky accident. When she started stomping, I thought, This is gonna be mortifying -- let's video it! But then I think she hit me with her wand, so I took her hand and marched her outside, forgetting the video was on. Then she stomped away and I started filming again. That's when the magical backlit shot happened. I would love to say I'm always that composed when my kids freaked out, but I'm not."