Well, the brand had been hurting a bit and needed more than a re-fresh, it needed a whole new re-launch. The creative director, Tim Roper was grappling with a lot of things—a package redesign that could've been mistaken for yet another brand extension; making this 1970's notion of Lymon relevant to today's teens; how to adapt the "Obey Your Thirst" tagline. But most importantly how to cut through over-saturated media and a notoriously fickle teenage attention span. He made clear to the client that it was going to require some risk to accomplish all that. Fortunately for him and all of us, they went for it.
What were the major challenges of the job?
Everything on this job was a challenge. However, casting was a big job for sure. The easy part was that there was no dialogue. But finding two Sumo wrestlers—real Sumo wrestlers—proved to be a tough job because a major Sumo tournament was going on in Japan at the same time. Also, finding the right person to edit the spots was key. We rested a lot on Haines Hall and Spotwelders' shoulders, as the edits had a million and one ways they could've been cut.
What did Happy bring to the job?
Happy went above and beyond to work with us as opposed to just for us. They wanted to capture as much surprising, raw footage as possible as well as play a role in the conception of a lot of the content for sublymonal flashes versus resting on odd clips of stock footage. They put a team of people together who set up in a small studio and just rolled on all sorts of ridiculous stuff. Things were exploding on one end of the studio while beetles were charging in the middle and some guy was wrapped in plastic on the other end. All at once. Insane.
What kind of challenges did the multiplatform nature of this campaign pose?
My role was mainly broadcast. But broadcast did carry with it the innovative notion of embedding extra content within the spots—mainly codes that could be used on the web. Finding places within some already frenetic cuts to implant these and then strike a balance by finding places that were challenging enough but not too buried was something we (Framestore along with James Dawson Hollis the key art director) and I had to do a lot of experimenting with.
Who were the unsung heroes of the project?
Haines Hall, Damon Clayton, Paul Sabater and the whole team at Spotwelders, Smuggler, and Murray Butler and James Razzall at Framestore N.Y. Also the two Sumo guys who ran barefoot all night in the frigid woods, when they obviously aren't built for that.
What was the best moment on this job? What was the worst moment?
The best moment was just before we saw the first edit. Not really knowing how things would come together. The worst was seeing one of our sumo men take a tumble in the woods at 3 a.m.
How many takes were required to get the guy's head properly smushed by sumo bellies? Umm, enough to make us all a little ill. We shot it at a high frame rate, and just rolled while the sumos continued to just slam their bellies back and forth and back and forth. It was only four to five takes before the kid's ears started ringing and one of the big boys pulled a hamstring. Not a good development at four in the morning.
Was the tongue suit specially made or was it a rental? The tongue suit was made to fit by a company called M.E.L. The kid in it weighed about 90 pounds—90 pounds of fearless, adrenalin-fueled, over the top borderline naughtiness. You'll be seeing more of him, I promise.
Strangest moment on the shoot? Watching an old man put on a pair of boy scout shorts and laugh maniacally as he scorched a mountain of marshmallows with a flamethrower.
How much Sprite did you consume throughout the process? Sprite with every meal.