Last November, 180 L.A. senior writer Dave Horton was quite thrilled when his wife tried to run him over with a car. No, he didn't have a death wish. Rather, his better half was one of 5,000 people to take part in "Mitsubishi Live Drive," the campaign he conceived with partner/senior art director Matthew Woodhams-Roberts, along with plenty of technical and digital help from partners like B-Reel and robotics expert Dr. James Brighton. For 18 hours a day, 10 days in a row, drivers from around the country took a real Outlander Sport for a spin on a course in Long Beach, California-- but they did it remotely, from the comfort of their own keyboards.
"My wife drove it while I was on the phone with her," Horton says. "She found me standing on the side of the course, pointed the car right at me and gunned it." Outside of the missus, other daredevils pulled their own stunts. According to Mitsubishi, 38 of the testers favored doing donuts the whole time, while 11 drove the car backwards. The event also made it into the Guinness Book of World Records, for the longest distance driven by a remote control car, 91 miles.
The campaign required "the coordination of a big shoot, the nimble yet tedious nature of digital, topped with the added pressure of a live event," says Woodhams-Roberts. That's a tall order for a duo who hadn't worked together for very long. They first teamed up at 180 in February of last year, for clients such as Mitsubishi, Sony and Boost Mobile. Prior to that, Woodhams-Roberts was at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, where he worked on clients such as the NBA, Comcast, Netflix and Sprint, after dipping into the candy jar at TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, on Skittles, Starburst and Snickers.
Horton brought with him plenty of automotive chops from previous agencies Y&R and Team One, working on clients such as Jaguar, Land Rover and Lexus. For the last, he helped to create the "Actively Safe" campaign, a stunning effects-driven series featuring spots like "Hospital" and "Pop-Up Book."
Since joining 180, the duo has helped to conceive Sony Vaio's "Media Monster" campaign starring Justin Timberlake and just launched the "Be Heard" push for Boost Mobile, which brings to life real quotes from frustrated cellphone users in spots, print and online. "I love that with one assignment you can create a remote-control car, the next a huge TV spot and the next you can do something completely different," says Woodhams-Roberts. Adds Horton: "The fact that the whole industry is in a state of flux right now is really exciting."