Shane Hutton and Will Uronis, Modernista, Boston

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"We don't wear tights," and "Our X-ray vision is better," are how Shane Hutton and Will Uronis respectively distinguish themselves from their mentors and the arguably better-known Modernista duo-Lance Jensen and Gary Koepke. The pair, both 32, had met at Arnold in Boston, where they worked on Volkswagen, including the highly lauded "Drivers Wanted" campaign. But they didn't become a team until three years ago, when they followed Modernista's founding fathers to the startup boutique. Since then writer Hutton and art director Uronis have matured to creative directors, having helped the shop grow into a serious industry player. They were on the team behind the fresh MTV branding campaign from 2001 that likened the network to something viral. They've also worked on Converse and most notably, packed some serious muscle onto the agency's highest profile client, Hummer.

"The campaign started with some shots Will took of the concept truck with (photographer) Bill Cash and a digital camera," explains Hutton. "Gary (Koepke) comes from a very fashion-heavy background and started hanging really nice nudes, Helmut Newton kind of stuff, next to the pictures Will shot. The nudes were only portions-a shoulder, a stomach, the small of a back. We started to see the connection-the curves and lines of the truck. We came up with interesting crops that only showed little sections of the truck, things that made your pupils dilate. It looked like a million bucks. Lines started to bubble out of excited conversations, and we believed in our hearts that we had something. We mixed those beauty shots with more powerful and dominant images to gain balance, the lines started to give you a way to connect the images with your own inner monologue, and the print work started to develop real power." A keen fashion sense continued to remain part of the campaign's DNA in the broadcast, Hutton adds. "We wanted to make you drool for the truck first and rationalize second. 'Need is a very subjective word' floated to the top and set the tone for the wording of the brand. That was one of the more conscious lines for Hummer. The message was pretty clear that we were not attempting to sell this truck on practicality. When people thought of status vehicles, we wanted Hummer to be in that mix." Over time the television spots have "had to address certain Hummer issues and therefore take a variety of forms, but at the same time, they couldn't lose the desire and the fashion," Hutton continues. "That's a really tricky balancing act to pull off."

But they have, with the Hummer oeuvre now comprised of everything from quirkily cut commercials in which the vehicle remains the constant against flickery, dramatic natural backdrops, music-vid stylin' via Dave Meyers, and the quaintly moving "Big Race," directed by Shine's Scott Hicks (see p. 53) and which recently inspired a parody ad from an H2 competitor. Next up, the duo is onto more creative for new vehicles in the Hummer line, as well as Budweiser, TIAA-CREF, Veryfine's Fruit 2.0 and Converse. Fueling the team along are some serious lessons, courtesy of Professors Jensen and Koepke. "I learned to craft something beautiful and relevant and then fight to the death for it; then, just at that split second before you die, run away," Hutton quips. "And most importantly, that when you have a good idea, not to stop at that because there's usually a better one around the corner," Uronis adds. "In fact, there always is."