Brooklyn — Supermarket Price Chopper once again called on one-stop animation /CGI /editorial and finishing boutique Galaxy 61 to design and execute a campaign that kicked off the holiday season with a pair of spots.
For the first spot, Price Chopper 4X Gift Card, (http://vimeo.com/80478913) Galaxy 61 (www.galaxy61.com) created a photorealistic silver gift box with Christmas ornaments tied with a red ribbon — which unfurls as the box opens. A voiceover announces Price Chopper’s holiday offers, which include 4X the Fuel AdvantEdge discount on every gift card customers buy from a select group of participating retailers, including Gap, Lowe’s, Sears, Kohls, and Toys R Us.
The second :30 spot, (http://vimeo.com/80478912) Holiday Recipes, introduces an interactive element to the campaign, inviting customers to access Price Chopper recipes for the holidays — some featuring special sale prices for the ingredients — all accessible by clicking on the Pinterest logo on Price Chopper’s home page. Three distinct versions of the spot were created.
“The animated gift box created for the opening of 4X Gift Card was the inspiration for the second spot’s iconic recipe box, which then highlights our ever-growing focus on digital/social marketing by featuring holiday Pinterest recipes,” says Price Chopper director of creative services, John Akots,. “The commercial also fits right into the flexible, modular, fast and affordable approach that creative consultant partners Roman Mayer and Murray Skurnik, (Galaxy 61 owner) Doug Johnson and I have developed over the years.”
“Crafting comedic, live-action mood driven spot content for a retailer is standard fare,” says Johnson. “The challenge with Price Chopper lies in designing and executing the segments of the spots that advertise the weekly sales and special offers, while maintaining agency-level quality that draws in viewers and drives them to the store. Price Chopper spots are unlike any other food retailer’s commercials. First, you have to understand the language and all the details that need to be communicated. Only then can you deliver on the tight deadlines and the customized high quality work required for their promotions.
“Working with a client on an ongoing basis also allows us to think ahead, and design assets so that they are re-usable, which is key for a retailer like Price Chopper,” says Johnson. “I always make a point to wrangle something creatively satisfying out of every project, no matter how simple it is — and bring the full scope of my experience as an animator, designed, and FX artist to each spot.”
Akots helms each spot, collaborating closely with Galaxy 61’s Johnson, as well as Roman Mayer and Murray Skurnik, who also bring extensive supermarket experience to the table from storyboards, to scripts to creative direction.
“The original board for the 4X Gift Card spot was a bit frenetic, so we did a lot of adjusting during the editorial process. The retail partners provided the artwork for the gift cards, and were very specific about how the cards were to be presented,” says Johnson. “Each card had to be the exact same size, and appear for precisely the same amount of time.”
The key to meeting the technical challenges of these spots, according to Galaxy 61, was to keep things simple and render the elements quickly and efficiently. Johnson deviated from his usual practice of rendering out every conceivable layer of information in 3D via Maya (reflections, refractions, shadows, masks, etc.) and then creating the final look by compositing them together in After Effects. While that approach affords more flexibility at the last minute it results in much longer render times on both ends. Instead he created most of the FX “in-camera,” which required minimal treatment — mostly color correction and animated transitions — at the compositing stage, saving time and money.
“While effective, the ‘in-camera’ approach posed another challenge, as the client was used to getting that first look at a proof within a day of starting,” says Johnson.
Galaxy called on Mac Pros running Windows 7, 64-bit, Maya 2011, After Effects CS6, Photoshop CS6.