Tag Archives: officemax

Ship happens!

Congratulations to former Escape Pod client Mark Andeer for approving this piece of ship.

What I love about this ad is that you can’t argue with it. And if you do, you’re a fool.

But what I really love is that it’s closing in on 15 million hits on youtube. Niiice!

Ho, ho, ho etc…

Time for my annual airing of the ONLY holiday spot i ever did.

It was an extension of a very popular OfficeMax campaign that featured a happy go lucky office supplies guy who danced around to the song “Rubberbandman” by The spinners.

The spot really took off. But our guy never spoke and the song was the anchor to the whole thing.

So we were in a bit of an executional pickle.

So we took him to Frostie the Snowman land.

This was stop-motion animation, old school stylee. A painfully slow process.

The guys at BENT animation Portland OR did this.

Happy holiday season to all my readers.

That’s you Trevor and Bob and the guy from portugal.

Happy accidents

I thought of this spot today. I did it years ago.

the reason it popped into my head was because it was during this shoot, on a mountain in California, that i first saw somebody get internet on a phone. blew my mind.

I was a bit surprised at how mountain-y and dangerous this shoot turned out to be. I figured we’d hollywood fake it. i was wrong!

I loved this spot because the funniest part of it was completely unplanned.

The African-American woman who bursts into laughter did so because she actually thought the first take of the presenter guy was Hilarious.

She couldn’t help herself.

She only did it once but it was so charming we put that very first take in the cut.

What we were up to in New York City





We won big in Vegas

At the Retail advertising awards the other night, The Escape Pod and client OfficeMax took home a gold and the best of show award for our penny pranks campaign.

Interestingly the awards were decided on the night by the audience at the show itself. Each of us was given a little electronic remote control device which we used to cast our vote. Which added a little more drama to the proceedings. The results were intstantly tabulated and displayed on screens for all to see.

Happily our penny pranks was the clear crowd favorite on the night, garnering 80% of the votes to take the best of show award.
Needless to say a punishing amount of refreshments were consumed immediately thereafter. A great night was had by all.

The Escape Pod is number two!

According to Chicago Sun-Times ad guru Lewis Lazare, our Penny Pranks campaign was the second best work to come out of the Midwest last year.   Yay!

And because we’re only number two, we will try harder this year.  So look out Barrie D’Rozario et al!

Ads that were great in 2008

ADVERTISING | Giving kudos to sunny side of the business

January 12, 2009 | BY LEWIS LAZARE


Just a week ago, we were talking about our concerns that 2009 might prove to be at least as difficult a year for the Chicago ad industry as 2008 was. Who knew that just hours later, a federal lawsuit would be unsealed alleging Leo Burnett/Chicago had inflated billing on the huge U.S. Army account over several years? It was a stunning revelation that Burnett quickly tried to put a damper on by announcing it had agreed to settle with the federal government and two whistleblower plaintiffs to the tune of more than $15 million. What a way to kick off the new year, eh?

But this column isn’t about 2009. It’s all about acknowledging a few ads from Chicago-based ad agencies and companies that brightened our days over the course of 2008. Granted, it has become more difficult in recent years to find work coming out of Chicago that was better than merely acceptable. Clients nowadays are all about using advertising for short-term gains, so the big idea that used to be at the core of the ad business has all but vanished. And outstanding creativity along with it, we hasten to add.

Still, we looked back over the 2008 local ad output in all manner of advertising formats and pieced together our annual list of the five best ads:

1. “Sea Orchestra.” (Barrie, D’Rozario Murphy) Ad biz insiders will immediately know that this exquisitely detailed TV commercial didn’t come from a Chicago agency, but rather a boutique in Minneapolis. But it was executed on behalf of a longtime Chicago-based company, United Airlines. This is by no means the first time a United spot has topped our annual list of the year’s best ads, but when we first saw this commercial featuring a vast group of sea creatures performing United’s signature musical theme “Rhapsody in Blue,” we knew it would be tough to beat in 2008. In fact, we don’t recall seeing anything anywhere in the last year that came remotely close to matching the creative genius exhibited in this lush spot that brilliantly burnishes the United brand.

2. “Used Car.” (The Escape Pod) Creative honcho Vinny Warren, who had a productive career at DDB/Chicago, left that shop several years ago to open the Escape Pod. Freed from the corporate shackles of a declining DDB, Warren’s creativity seems to have flourished ever more impressively. A series of spots done for OfficeMax last summer include some of Warren’s best work. Shot on location in New York, each commercial showed what happened when attempts were made to purchase merchandise with only pennies. A spot featuring a car salesman with hysterically oily mannerisms was perhaps the best of a very good batch of work.

3. “Egg” (Leo Burnett) As if it didn’t have enough to deal with already, Burnett now has to grapple with the fallout from an internal billing scandal. But despite all the agency’s problems, there are a few creatives toiling at the shop who have demonstrated some creative savvy via outdoor work for longtime client McDonald’s. This big egg sign went up at a McDonald’s near Wrigley Field last summer and was cleverly designed to crack open each morning and then close up again as the lunch hour approached — all to remind passersby that breakfast was being served fresh and hot beneath those iconic golden arches. Nifty.

4. “Blue” (Euro RSCG) There’s no shortage of fashion advertising out there. But we find most of it to be cut — as it were — from the same cloth. Not to mention rather snooty and forgettable. Which is why we rather like Euro RSCG’s chicly unpretentious yet subtly amusing set of print ads for Brigid’s Bags, a local boutique vintage bag business run by Brigid Murphy, also known in show biz circles for her Milly’s Orchid Show. With a few deft copywriting strokes, this simple, uncluttered ad for a refurbished blue bowling bag suggests how the bag was of the moment more than 30 years ago in decidedly unchic Sheboygan and could be again today in Manhattan, where fashion is taken quite seriously in certain circles.

5. “Trust Fund Baby” (Cramer-Krasselt) In today’s ad world, the would-be humorists in too many creative departments tend to equate being funny with being crass and stupid. We long ago got our fill of that kind of stuff. So we are always eager to applaud work that comes at humor from a slightly more civilized angle. That is certainly how Cramer-Krasselt approached a campaign for Sealy mattresses that broke last year. A series of television commercials successfully poked fun at some very spoiled souls in our society who, because of their good fortune, never have to worry about getting enough sleep. The trust fund baby execution was our favorite, but the art direction on all of the commercials, coupled with some great voiceover work, made this very focused campaign pop.

[update: We just realized that it would be unsportsmanlike and churlish not to offer congratulations to Barrie D”Rozario Murphy. However begrudging they might be. So here it is. Congratulations Barrie D’Rozario Murphy. Happy now? Good]

The Escape Pod created a new filmic promotional element

We had fun doing this one.  It’s currently running in cinemas nationwide. no online component, widget, facebook app.  no ARG.  Just a beautiful film and nice music.  old timey style.  FYI:  the actress’ wardrobe was custom designed just for her.  First time we ever did that.   And yes, we let her keep it.  we hope you like it.  the commercial that is.  not her dress.

Client:  OfficeMax

Production Company: Brand New School

Director:  Ben Go

Music:  At the Edge of The Ocean.  Artist: Ivy.  Music search performed by Comma Music/Chicago

INTERESTING FACT:  We shot this on a sound stage in  the Universal studio lot in Hollywood.  Next door Clint Eastwood was directing Angelina Jolie in “The Changeling”.  Angelina and Maddox once drove past us in a golf cart.  We were going in the opposite direction.   You could tell she was dying to talk to us.  But we were too busy.

Happy holidays from The Escape Pod!

We did this a few years back. I say “we”. I really mean Bent animation in Portland. They did an amazing job. took bloody ages to do this one. stop-motion animation is not for those with short attention spans to say the least.

We did a TV show

Actually we did two TV shows. It was called “Schooled”. We created it with client OfficeMax for the back to school season. The thinking was: back to school is as big as Christmas in kids’ lives but there’s no explicit back to school programming. So…let’s do a TV show! Easier said than done.

The Escape Pod’s wunderkind managing director, Norm Bilow, somehow made it happen. That entailed dealing with networks, record labels, google, youtube…me.

The idea was a good one. Prank a whole school into thinking that if they don’t do X, very bad Y will happen to them. And then pay the whole thing off with a private concert, just for those kids, by a major rock star in their school gym. That necessitated getting the agreement of a high school and the parents of all the kids and, most crucially, it entailed all concerned keeping their mouths shut so none of the kids have any clue. otherwise our show is busted and all our production money effectively goes down the drain. in front of our eyes.

the good thing is this only really hit me when it much too late to do anything other than bite into my sleeve in agony and silently scream Ari Gold style.

rather than bore you with the executional details you can simply watch the bite-sized version below. It’s a good laugh. Basically it was PUNK’D set in a high school. and we knew it. hence the name. but remember, hidden camera wasn’t invented by Ashton Kutcher. Or Dom Joly. it was invented by Allen Funt. 50 years ago. it’s a technique not an idea.

Now, if you’ve never done a TV show before, you’re probably thinking “I could have done that!”. And you very well might. But one thing that we only discovered by actually doing it twice is that doing a TV show punifies any TV commercial ever done in terms of sheer scale and audacity and complexity. And we here at the escape pod have done some ambitious things in our time but this was different. Very, very different.

A commercial lasts 30 seconds. A TV show lasts 50 minutes. Or 3000 seconds.

In commercials you control everything. here we controlled maybe 20% of things.

In commercials you overshoot. here we shot what we could in the time.

In commercials you know what you’ll end up with. here we had absolutely no idea.

In commercials you edit for a week with one editor. and that’s a leisurely pace. We edited round the clock for three weeks plus using five editors. Racing all the way.

In commercials you have to get the approval of the the network to run your spot. here we were expected to perform well in the ratings. the weight of the network itself was on our shoulders.

In commercials you get your commercial sandwiched between programming. we actually had commercials for sandwiches sandwiched between our programming.

There’s a 15 minute just-for-youtube version here. Check it out. The prank really worked out well. The kids totally bought it So it’s real good viewin’…

PS: the principal Eric Sheninger has since gone on to have another reality show. Not surprised. He was great. Thanks Eric! I mean, Mr. Sheninger!

YouTube made a YouTube video about us and put it on YouTube because we made YouTube videos that were a big hit on YouTube. You can watch it now. It’s on YouTube.

You can read more about it here on the YouTube blog. Thanks Holly and all our friends at Google-Tube Chicago!

If you have any questions about the machinations of this campaign, please contact NormBilow or MattJohnson AT THE ESCAPE POD AGENCY DOT COM.