Big Ideas Know No Boundaries

Disruption. That’s the name of the game. The pursuit and execution of an idea that makes an impact on a company or cause is probably why most of us chose to pursue careers in marketing communications. It’s also a safe bet that the creativity found in Super Bowl advertising had an influence as well. That’s why we thought it’d be interesting to hear about the process of taking a disruptive idea to the biggest stage in advertising as our second year of the Spotlight Speaker Series kicked off during 2017 Buffalo Ad Week.

Enter Kevin Corfield and Derek Julin of Pittsburgh agency Brunner. The duo came to Buffalo seven months after they did what every marketing pro dreams of doing; they created a Super Bowl commercial and arguably one of the most memorable in recent years with 84 Lumber’s The Journey.

Kevin and Derek’s story began with Brunner getting a call on Friday, December 9 from the president of the lumber retailer with the plan of doing something to grab the attention of everyone watching the biggest football game of the year – which was less than two months from happening. After a weekend under the directive to be controversial, their team ultimately settled on a story that would incorporate the theme of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

What followed was an interesting timeline that went behind the scenes of an ad from a newcomer to advertising’s biggest stage with tidbits such as:

  • The wall was real – they constructed a 60 foot wide by 30 foot tall concrete wall with a door built into it for the shoot
  • The final scene took four takes on the last day of shooting – because the wall wasn’t finished until then and there were significant wind and dust storms that swept through that day
  • Having to find a solution to FOX’s announcement, during the script approval process, that they wouldn’t run the ad if the wall was shown as it was deemed too controversial
  • The flag in the ad was made from scraps found at their various shooting locations, adding to the authenticity of the story

Ultimately their work moved the needle which is what we all try to do. It did its job of being controversial and got people talking. The film has had over 11.2 million views on YouTube. The 84 Lumber brand gained national attention and they received over 60,000 applications (employee recruitment was an underlying goal of this project afterall).

The thing that stuck with me the most was when they said “big ideas know no boundaries.”

These guys are proof of that statement. They work in Pittsburgh at an agency with roughly the same number of employees as Crowley Webb; not an agency behemoth from New York City, Chicago, or Los Angeles. The fact their team was able to make one of the most talked about Super Bowl ads happen under the added pressure of a time crunch speaks volumes to how important a creative approach is.

There were a bunch of other really interesting things that happened during Brunner’s creation of The Journey, but you probably should’ve joined the 60 people who attended the talk. You have your next chance to better your brand during our Spotlight Speaker Series event on November 8 with a presentation by Danielle Evans, a designer with a passion for food typography.

A special thanks to our sponsors Gelia, FB Displays & Designs, VSP Graphic Group, and Luminus for their support in making events like this possible.

This post was originally written for and published at AAF Buffalo’s website.