How The Martin Agency's Fast-Break Game Produced Winning Ads for CarMax

Agency VP, ACD Ken Marcus opens his playbook

Okay, here's the game plan. We have three basketball legends arriving on set: Sue Bird, Candace Parker and Steph Curry. And we have to shoot six spots for our client CarMax today. Plus twelve social units, news media interviews and a photoshoot, all within eight hours. 

Um, scratch that. Seven hours. 

What the what? We're already behind an hour? Cool, cool. 

On this kind of schedule, you have no choice but to play hurry-up offense. Daunting, yes. But also incredibly liberating as it turns out. It forces you to be hyper-focused with your efforts. There is simply no time to overthink. No time to belabor decisions. You have to get in the zone quickly. (Crushing these sports metaphors, y'all.) 

Paralysis by analysis, which happens all too often in production, will 100 percent kill your day. Every creative choice must be made quickly and decisively. And you know what? That's how it should be, no matter what your shooting schedule is.

But you still have to allow time for spontaneity. Sure, get your approved lines. But don't overwork the script. You only need one good take. Then let the talent be themselves. Some of our best takes resulted from letting our three superstars to do just that, and adding their distinctive personalities to the dialogue.

The end performance on "Block" was improvised, entirely different from what was scripted. Candace and Steph made the lines their own—yes, we're all on a first-name basis now—which made everything feel more authentic and fun. In fact, all three athletes were amazing at thinking on their feet (hardly a surprise when you consider their day jobs).

What's even more important in crunch time? Trusting your teammates to all be on the same page with wanting the best creative hands-down. 

We worked in lockstep with the CarMax brand team, director Danny Corey and the Valiant production company, along with Wasserman, CarMax's sports marketing and strategy agency. Working from the same playbook was absolutely critical. Because in the game of production, nobody wants to go into overtime. (Okay, scraping the bottom of the sports metaphor barrel.)

This production was a great lesson for us. Maybe for many of you in the business. A reminder to stop overthinking things. Allow for spontaneity. And trust your teammates. Very similar to the game of basketball itself.

Do these things and we can easily shoot six spots and twelve pieces of content in seven hours. 

Wait. That's a terrible lesson. Give us at least 10 hours next time.


A post shared by WNBA (@wnba)

Advertise With Us

Featured Clio Award Winner



The best in creativity delivered to your inbox every morning.