Written by on Aug 18, 2010. Posted in Production News

Finance company shoots ads with smoke and an elephant in California

Ohio-based Western & Southern Financial Group has shot two new commercials in California. Strength shows a man talking about the company’s strengths on a desert road while a sumo wrestler, an elephant and a wrecking ball all fail to topple him.

Filming took place on a road 90 minutes north-east of Los Angeles in a town called Palmdale. Director Christian Bevilacqua liked the raw feel of the terrain and the image of the road stretching into infinity in the background. Although the wrecking ball was added digitally, the sumo wrestler and the elephant were both real.

Jeff Warman, a Creative Director with Northlich, said: “Filming in the open space on the road in Palmdale helped with the elephant as there was plenty of room to work. The elephant was transported to the location in an air-conditioned trailer and was sprayed down with water to help keep it cool in the desert.”

The script called for the elephant, named Suzie, to ram the man on the road. A lifelike mannequin of the actor was bolted to a metal plate on the road. Suzie was then trained to charge the mannequin, with watermelon used as bait, although the desert heat affected her speed. In post-production the charge was speeded up and the mannequin was replaced with the actor.

Stability was shot in a city tunnel in downtown Los Angeles. It shows a woman on stilts talking about the company’s stability while a giant fan, a cowboy with a lasso and a cannon firing tennis balls leave her unfazed.

Getting permission to film in the tunnel was a challenge. Having re-routed traffic in downtown Los Angeles on a week day, the production also got authorisation to add smoke to the tunnel. Alex Fisch, the Production Supervisor with Anonymous Content on both spots, said: “We notified the fire department, but someone in an office building saw the smoke - the wind had switched direction - and called them. They arrived in the afternoon with three fire trucks, alarms blazing. They left smiling of course.”

Click here to view Strength.

Click here to view Stability.

Client: Western & Southern Financial Group
Agency: Northlich
Creative Directors: Carey McGuire, Jeff Warman
Production Company/Production Service Company: Anonymous Content
Producer: Paul Ure

Production Supervisor: Alex Fisch
Director: Christian Bevilacqua

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