Monday, July 25, 2011

Get Ready For My Sweetness! Or The Importance of Gold-Foil Wallpaper

Super-props for my old acting-school friend Monika Avalos for posting this for me to look at and instantly fall in love.

So, two guys from L.A. who refer to themselves vaingloriously as "The Cousins" have produced a hilarious spot advertised among web enthusiasts as "NSFW". Working at LizardLand Video in Phoenix, this week, I saw no reason why any such video was "not safe for work", around these parts and watched the most hilarious viral video I have seen in some time.

Skittles - "Newlyweds" - Dir. Cousins [ORIGINAL LINK] from Cousins on Vimeo.

The thirty-second ad is a spec ad, meaning it's "not real" according to the popular vernacular. But it's improper to focus on what the video is not. I shall make the case for what the video is - more finely: being viewed damn near a million times in one week.

Put that into perspective: Skittles posted an actual Ad about 5 months ago, replete with advertising budgets and the usual agency rigamarole and so far, it has 4 million views.

Now let's break this down, assuming the actors got involved just for experience (both are actors on the up-and-coming in the world of spoof movies) and the directors, awesome compositor and production crew agreed on a similar premise, here's the art design shopping list I am assuming:

1. One-size-too-large Tux Rental

2. Velvet leopard-print boxers

3. Sexy Wedding dress Rental and shoes/veil combo

4. Thrift store "cheap motel" furnishings

5. Miscellaneous Lumber

6. gold-foil wallpaper.

7. Tiger-print fabric (beddings/carpet)

8. Super-bag of skittles.

One faux stone wall has a 70's-dated lightswitch on it. Even this commercial - that's too damned much attention to detail so I'm going to go ahead and assume that the rock walls are "real" (people's vernacular). But there is no way in hell you can find a wall with that wallpaper in America in this third millennium C.E., so I'm assuming that Cousins built those faux walls, which makes sense given their awkward shape and the fact that you can see dead studio space above the walls in the corners of the room.

Now, I'm assuming the makers of this video could find easier-to-find and cheaper wallpaper, but it's the first thing that caught my eye in this commercial. It catches the light with a subtle pizzazz that says "corny" and matches the similar "corny" elements in the scene: animal print bed dressings, leopard-print velvet boxer-shorts, gold-rim enormous glasses, etc. making for a set design that transports you instantly to a time and place where this "thing" can happen.

Combine that with the - "unique" way in which the spray of skittle-missiles are composited into the video (watch it again, you'll see what I mean) and details like half-empty champagne flutes and ice bucket, the jewelry the actress is wearing, etc. and you have a 30-sec spot with some contiguous eye for detail to paint a scene that gets you straight to the point.

Other than that, I think it's hard to find much else strategic in this piece. These guys wanted to gain some notoriety off of cheap laughs and it seems to be working out for them.

I must say I find it equally important that the video is being viewed on Vimeo, which makes me happy as a fair-weather lover of all things Vimeo for about three years.

What we learn from the Sweetness:

1. Exotic Set Design is important. Transport me to a world where your scene is possible and there is less to distract my eye and lead me down that path of "How amateur is that..."

2. Don't be afraid to rely on a video's uniqueness to carry it!

One day, we will all understand advertising and none of it will work on any of us. Until then, the Snowball rolls on...

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