Super Bowl Q&A: Pete Favat, ECD, Arnold

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Pete Favat
Pete Favat
Arnold ECD Pete Favat is no stranger to the Super Bowl. His last participation in the commercial festivities was 2004's "Shards O' Glass" for Truth, and this year Arnold presents a sports extravaganza in ESPN Mobile's "Sports Heaven." The spot depicts a guy using the service while strolling by no fewer than 22 athletes and extras from pitcher David Wells to spelling be champion Anurag Kashyap. Here, Favat talks about the making of this year's spot, accounting for game-day drunkenness and the pressure to perform.

This spot is as full of sports as it can be. How did you decide which athletes got in?

What we tried to do was list sports that we would want to cover, and there were things like broom ball or curling, and things fell off as we prioritized. But also key sports figures that we wanted to highlight. This phone is really targeted toward serious sports fans, so there's the idea of the target audience wanting to name everyone in the spot. Everything that we've been told by sports fans is that they want to keep watching it over and over to pick out the people. They freeze frame it. It's a loaded spot. There's a lot of stuff in there. It's right down to the bus having the number 36 on it because Jerome Bettis on the Pittsburgh Steelers is number 36 but his nickname is The Bus. If you freeze frame, street signs have hidden names and graffiti on the street says "no pepper games."

What was the shoot like?

ESPN 'Sports Heaven'
ESPN 'Sports Heaven'
Four days. We had to close off a pretty major downtown section of Los Angeles. Most of it too is in-camera so we had to have motorcycles flying out of a garage over and over again. Most of the things that people think is post actually isn't, and then the post stuff is things people don't see. But the spot is one continuous stroll too, so we had to block off those sections each day. RSA was great about that. And then minor little things, like Juan Pierre, who steals bases on the street corners, when we shot him he was on the Florida Marlins. While we were editing, he was traded to the Cubs, so we had to completely change his uniform. So the Flame guys at Brickyard were amazing about that.

Super Bowl spots used to be thought of as some of the best creative, and in recent years have been criticized for bowing to the lowest common denominator. What's your take on that?

I look at the Super Bowl as more strategic than a creative forum because it makes sense launching a product that revolves around sports. In the past, it's not that people come with the wrong execution, but the wrong strategy. I guess it's ok, we'll take the water cooler talk, it's awesome, but is it really effective in the long term? Humor is fine. It works for beer, and it makes sense because beer is a funny product.

I look at the Super Bowl and see people in party mode, especially deeper in the game. You should bring something to that party. We've been on with Truth, and Alex Bogusky and I have talked about how Truth is rebellious and provocative, but we've been cautious that we don't go to the Super Bowl with a bummer ad. Two years ago, "Shards O' Glass" was on, and it was more sarcastic than a bummer, but we were thinking about that. It's interesting that Dove is targeting spots toward women. I wonder what Dove will bring to the party.

"Shards O' Glass" wasn't supposed to be a Super Bowl spot. What's the difference between that experience and this one?

When you decide to put things on the Super Bowl, the pressure and intensity that people put on themselves is insane. The scrutiny is so much higher than making a spot and deciding to run it during the Super Bowl. The expectations are very very high. There's a huge difference between the two. It's like planning your wedding knowing that you're getting married and making sure everything's perfect and eloping. Eloping is way easier. I've done both. I suggest B. And the honeymoon is way better because there's much less pressure.
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