Drumstick cast posable action figures in a self-consciously surreal campaign reintroducing the 94-year-old sundae cone brand to a younger audience.
Our hero, "Dr. Umstick," rocks a bouffant and hangs with Mr. Punky the robot, plus two latter-day Valley Girls. Some stop-motion techniques come into play, but mostly the dolls just stand or sit around, adding to the weirdness.
In a five-minute adventure channeling film noir, classic SNL Mr. Bill, Comedy Central and lord knows what else, the Doc searches for true love. Ultimately, a Drumstick treat melts his heart.
Too much oddness packed into those 300 seconds? Try these bite-sized servings:
Creative agency Opinionated developed the work. HouseSpecial directors Kirk Kelley and Alice Mathias provide colorful visuals and a pleasingly brisk pace.
Brian Delaney voices the Doc and narrates with spoofy poetic-macho flair. Throughout the story, we feel the delirious depth of his "sandals-over-head" obsession with creamy, chocolatey, nutty ice cream. And that's ... something?
Below, Opinionated's Lauren Olson (copy) and Nate Corrado (art) explain how their unusual commercial confection came to life.
Why go OTT wacky for Drumstick, of all brands?
Lauren Olson and Nate Corrado: We'd call it "offbeat humor," rather than wacky. Wacky feels a bit more off-the-cuff or nonsensical. But everything we wrote and designed was very intentionally built to ladder up to our concept that eating a Drumstick is like taking an adventure. Frequently the humor comes from the human and grounded vulnerability Dr. Umstick exudes in his expression of genuine love.
The world already knows what Drumstick is, giving us the gift of freedom to be super playful. Plus, it's Drumstick. It would be a shame to not do something delightful with such a fun brand.
Ken-and-Barbie-style dolls. Such sparse animation. Where'd all that come from?
We wanted to make something that felt fun, had intrinsic nostalgia and was visually attention grabbing. The lack of motion in our dolls was intentional and decided on before we began shooting. Except for a few moments, we didn't animate very much. We animated things (via stop-motion) only when it strengthened the joke. Within the context of a cinematic visual style and the seriousness of the noir-inspired tone, the use of unmoving dolls to tell the story added a layer of humor and unexpected delight.
He's got some wild style going on.
In one of the spots, Dr. Umstick gets his hair blown out into a bouffant to look more like his Drumstick. Dr. Umstick's shape, as well as his wardrobe—white turtleneck + waffle cone-esque plaid pants—was designed to subtly reference the look of a Drumstick and visually reinforce his love of the product.
What sparked the storyline? Old movies? Cesar Romero? Pre-Lando Billy Dee Williams?
Noir films and series were a big inspiration, as well as old cartoons and movies we loved as kids. The blending of these worlds created a unique tension and made it fresh and funny. Noir felt right because it sets up a sense of mystery and takes you on a journey of discovery.
Did the client just lick this idea right up? Was it a tough sell?
The Drumstick team loved this idea right away. We agreed it was a unique way to modernize Drumstick while also reflecting their core values, and something that would serve the brand long-term.
Tell us about the production process. How'd it go down?
We worked closely with our production partners for months, sending back and forth designs and concepts for the dolls and sets. Once all the dolls, costumes and sets were settled on, HouseSpecial built them and we worked to align on how each moment was shot.
It was a months-long shoot process, carefully planned and executed, that allowed opportunities for building on jokes and moments as well as creating Easter eggs. For example, we included the names of the Opinionated account team in the tattoos on the tattoo parlor set, and the wooden doll background characters in the wedding spot were designed to represent the creative team.
We played with dolls for like two months straight, so you can imagine how silly things got at times. For each moment and joke that made it in, there were several we didn't have time for. We all laughed a lot.
PROJECT NAME: Another Day, Another Drumstick
Founder, Executive Creative Director: Mark Fitzloff
President: Trish Adams
Executive Creative Director: Rob Palmer
Art Director: Nate Corrado
Copywriter: Lauren Olson
Head of Production: Corey Bartha
Agency Producer: Kevin Diller
Strategic Planning: Dave Daines
Strategic Planning: Carly Harrison
Account Team: Marcelina Ward, Whitney Calvin, Michael Dalton
Business Affairs: Cindy Lewellen
Production Company: HouseSpecial & Gifted Youth
Director: Kirk Kelley & Alice Mathias
Executive Producer: Lourri Hammack
Head of Production: Alvaro Cubillas
Production Manager: Hannah Bearden
Director of Photography: John Nolan
Production Design/Art Direction: Gee Staughton
Editorial Company: HouseSpecial
Editor: Cam Williams
Assistant Editor: Patrick Lagier
Colorist: John Corbett
Music House: Finland TEOSTO
Composer: Joonas Mäkilä
Track Name: Detective Film Noir Jazz
Company Name: th3rd sound
Audio Mixer/Sound Engineer: Chip Sloan
Talent: Brian Delaney
EDITORIAL - LONG FORM (Meet. Dr. Umstick)
Executive Producer: Chris Vanderloo
Senior Producer: Rachel Gardell
Editor: Kyle VonHoetzendorff