For the launch of the 2007 Escalade-a chromed-up, 22-inch-wheeled version of the ride preferred by players-Leo Burnett/Chicago and Supply and Demand director Jeffery Plansker whipped up a fashion-oriented spectacle designed to play up the Escalade glamour connection, and to stand out during the Super Bowl.
The shoot took place over three days in an airport hangar in Van Nuys, Calif., and assembled some of the leading talent in the style world-the all-important costumes were designed by Oscar winner Colleen Atwood (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha); top makeup artist Kabuki was on paint detail; DJs Aurelito & Shakespeare spun from their ice cream truck booth; and stylists Hector Castro and Patrick Milani, who typically work the Milan shows and the pages of Vogue, were on hand to transform the hangar into an authentic fashion event, ensuring the show had the proper Euro flavor while appealing to a U.S. audience. A long mirrored runway bisected the space and was lined by rows of chairs occupied by 150 well-coiffed extras, celebrity-ish plants like Rachel Hunter and Marcus Allen (and a woman dressed to look strikingly like a certain demonic editrix with a blunt bob and dark glasses). The runway terminated in a hydraulic platform that would ultimately appear to raise the lead model Oluchi ( and eventually the car) out of a pool of chrome. All the models striding the runway were outfitted with custom-made, chrome-accented dresses (L.A. fashion designer Carlos Rosario worked with Atwood on the clothes) and touches like chrome-tipped eyelashes. The chrome dip effect was completed with visual effects from The Mill.
Creatives Tor Myhren and Don McKinney created the concept of "chrome couture" after spending time observing the vehicle and joking to each other that it almost literally was "dripping chrome. The DNA of the brand is rooted in glamour," says Myhren. "The Escalade fits nicely in this world, it was immediately taken up by the fashion and entertainment word when it launched."
Agency exec producer Jack Nelson says authenticity and believability were key to the spot, and it was important "not to be beholden to special effects." As the director to pull this off, Plansker had, according to Nelson, "an oblique, raw, almost brutal honesty to his work."
The spot's theme carried through in other media, with photographer David LaChappelle interpreting chrome couture in print ads.