Mr. Hunter said "The Bark Side" is about "giving you enough
information to whet your appetite. It would be a strange teaser if
it didn't reflect what was coming."
The ad was directed by Keith Schofield of Caviar Content, who
said the dogs were shot together and then separately on the set,
barking to a temporary track created by Endless Noise's Jeff Elmassian, who was also
behind the arrangement of John William's original Vader march for
"The Force." Prior to production, "we talked about how this should
probably be handled like a music video," said Deutsch Director of
Integrated Content Vic Palumbo. "We needed to create the track
first and then figure out who the dogs are, what notes they're
going to be singing."
For the final track, Mr. Elmassian created a mix of archived dog
barks and yelps recorded on set rounded out by newly recorded woofs
and howls-a number of which were later pitched to match the actual
tune. One of the biggest challenges was the balancing act of using
unaltered dog barks and digitally enhanced ones. The final mix
featured a combination of both. "The human ear is discerning enough
that even a lay person can tell when something is synthetic," said
Mr. Elmassian. "You want a certain amount of barks to not be
effected. Your ear will anchor onto enough of those and start to
forgive some of the sounds that do border more on the effected
There was also the problem of matching yelp to snout. "We wanted
the barks to sound like they were actually intoning a pitch, but
it's also important that we needed them to sound like the specific
dog," said Mr. Elmassian. "You may have a great Labrador with the
right pitch, but at that moment it's the Chihuahua barking. You
can't put a Lab's bark into the Chihuahua voice."
Assembling it all involved a very delicate dance between sound
and edit. Mr. Elmassian said he also collaborated extensively with
Editor Nicholas Wayman-Harris of Union. The agency teamed with
Method Studios on the effects, but "it was important to minimize
the CG work so it felt natural," explained Deutsch Group Creative
Director Jerome Austria. Overall, the teaser was a lesson in
restraint-and how important it is to good comedy. None of the dogs
don a Vader mask or Leia cinnamon-bun hairpieces. Only few have
hints of costume, like the AT-AT poncho of the whippet in the final
frame. The barks themselves start out sounding a bit cryptic and
random, until they build into something really familiar.
"We were trying to not be too heavy-handed," said Deutsch Group
Creative Director Michael Kadin. "You don't want to overly
art-direct it, like if they all came out with eye patches and sang
As for the continuing "Star Wars" theme, "We are leveraging our
equity from last year," said Mr. Mahoney, referring to "The Force."
According to Deutsch's Mr. Austria, within the first 24 hours of
its launch, "The Bark Side" surpassed 1.6 million views. Within the
same time frame, "The Force" earned around 1.1 million hits.
The canine choir teaser leads viewers to a site where they can
invite their friends to Bowl parties with a customized "Star Wars"
title crawl. "It probably raises more questions than it answers,"
added fellow Group Creative Director Matt Ian. "We like that it's
starting to tell the world, 'Whatever you may have expected it to
be, it may not be that.'"
But what we do know for certain is this: According to Mr. Kadin,
the agency brought back Director Lance Acord and Editor Jim Haygood
for the actual big game spot. "We had a winning combination," he
said, "so why mess with that?"
And what of VW's 60-second commercial on the Bowl bought for the
VW Beetle? Will "Star Wars" figure in?
"Don't presume anything," cautioned Mr. Mahoney.
Related: Singing Animals in Advertising -- A
Contributing: Stephen Williams