This is a seminal moment in Undertone history: tonight, our very first television commercials will air during the season premiere of AMC’s The Pitch!
First TV spots are a big deal for any company, but they generate even more attention when you’re a B2B company whose core competency is digital media. Wait, what? A digital company advertising on television? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
It makes for good headlines, but the answer is: not really. This is integrated marketing exemplified. This is Undertone doing what smart brands do every day: complementing our digital, social and experiential programs with TV for broad reach. (Though arguably, their media mix models go the other way: TV first, with digital and other channels filling in the gaps).
Undertone is also making noise for yet another industry first. In 2008, we led the industry with the first quality guarantee. Earlier this year, we took it a step farther, to guarantee not just quality, but brand lift. Now, Undertone will lead the way yet again – there aren’t many B2B marketing services companies on the first screen.
I have to tell you, it’s been a hell of a lot of fun breaking this new ground. Here’s some personal perspective on the making of “Standout and Be Remembered.”
“The Team with the Best Players Wins”
Jack Welch gets credit for the quote; we took the sentiment to heart and assembled a world-class team to helm our commercial debut. It all started with our team at Brand Intersection Group, who intro’d us to Fred Elisson Burgos, a thirty-year creative veteran/SVP/Group Creative Director at some of the most prestigious advertising firms in the world (JWT, DDB Needham and most recently Arnold Worldwide). Fred’s amazing talent was complemented perfectly by producers from Hero Content (Mike Downey, Stephen Frandsen, and editor extraordinaire, Alex Markman) and our Director of Photography, George Wieser. Between them, their client list reads like the who’s who roster of blue-chip brands: Coca-Cola, DuPont, Kraftmaid, Hershey, Porsche, McDonald’s, Toyota and Verizon to name but a few. From the word “go” we were in great hands.
Their excitement was contagious, too. The reality that this work was going to be seen by an audience of their peers (and clients!) motivated the entire team. A personal highlight: the time-lapse shot on the rooftop of our building. On the scouting visit, I distinctly recall walking out the door, turning my head and feeling like the Chrysler building was “right there.” I love the elegance and emotion from those shots in the commercial, how they manage to capture the glory and grandeur of working in the advertising capital of the world.
Momentous Moments, Lessons Learned
I’m compelled to express gratitude for such an amazing learning experience. I learned things big and small. Like what DP stood for (Director of Photography), what a tracking shot was (when they rig the camera on a dolly to “track” movement of the talent along some path), the intricacies of capturing cool time-lapse footage, both of our bustling office and the sublime view from 101 Park Avenue (which also starred in The Secret of My Success, Gremlins, Seinfeld, Friends with Benefits and the more recent New Year’s Day. Who knew?).
And, it confirmed the truism: it’s all who you know. (See paragraph about the winning team). Having a best friend with a storied history in production for big-budget Hollywood films didn’t hurt. Or the fact that her husband, Ron Haney, happens to be an amazing musician (whose credits include recording and playing with the likes of Alicia Keyes and Bono) who agreed to write an original score for our commercials.
Undertone as the Star – and the Story
It was an early (and easy) decision to let Undertone be the star of this commercial. From shooting in our NY HQ, to making Undertone employees the stars instead of hired help (aka, actors), every moment was a conscious decision to showcase who we are and what we stand for. Watching our 25,000+ square foot offices being taken over by crates of equipment, producers, assistants, cameramen, gear and the oh-so-important craft services team was crazy. The energy level in our office has never been higher and the excitement has been building ever since.
It was interesting to realize how much we had to simplify our message for a TV audience. Digital advertising is a complex business, laden with nuance. How do you simplify that for viewers who not only don’t know who you are or what you do, but don’t know why they should care? We chose to craft the spot around a simple theme, and one that is at the core of our brand promise: we believe the web CAN work harder (and smarter) for brands. And there’s no simpler way to demonstrate that than with statistics. Our CEO and sales team often start meetings with the simple question: There were 4.8 TRILLION (yes, with a T) ads shown on the Internet last year. How many do you remember?
We went to the streets to ask average folks the same question. We’ve generated quite a buzz from the footage…some say it’s odd for a digital company to slam digital advertising. But for us, it leads back to our premise. Advertisers deserve better. They should expect better. Undertone is here to deliver better. We exist to deliver STANDOUT brand experiences.
So, that’s OUR pitch. Hopefully you tune(d) in and can see for yourself on AMC. But if not, I am pleased and proud to share Undertone’s very first TV spots with you here.
Undertone Spot #1
Undertone Spot #2
Thanks for watching!