Ad of the Day: Anna Kendrick Channels Obi-Wan in Star Wars Battlefront Trailer

Heat's disappearing act

Office workers, high-school kids, rush-hour commuters, a rock band performing on stage and even Anna Kendrick all vanish, Obi-Wan style, and their earthly accoutrements—clothes, backpacks, guitars—fall to the ground in this captivating two-minute promo for the Electronic Arts game Star Wars Battlefront.

Ultimately, these folks are transported into the pulse-pounding action of the game itself, which is set for release on Nov. 17. The spot, "Be More Powerful," goes wide today online, and will air during ESPN's Monday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and San Diego Chargers.

"We wanted to send a message to fans that they're going to get to do what they always wanted to do—disappear into a world they love and fight these incredible battles they've only imagined," Ryan Hartsfield, associate creative director and copywriter at Heat, which created the spot, tells Adweek.

"We knew this had to work globally, so we started thinking about a spot that feels almost like a World Cup announcement. Because Star Wars, like football, is one of those rare fandoms that literally transcends age, culture, religion, sex, race, borders, everything. It's like a secret club, except there are 300 million members."

Once that concept was established, the agency asked itself, "How do we show people leaving our world and going into the game world without literally showing real people in the game, or the game in the real world, both of which have been done time and time again?" says Heat associate creative director and art director Jeff Fang. "Obi-Wan vanishing into the Force just became a natural device, because it's the most Star Wars way of showing somebody transporting from one realm into another."

The shots of various folks vanishing are smoothly achieved and seem both strange and familiar, because Star Wars lore is so firmly fixed in our cultural consciousness.

"The intention was to stay as close [as possible] to the original Obi-Wan disappearance in Star Wars: A New Hope—which was a practical effect," says Fang. "But we couldn't put everybody in robes and shoot from the same angle. The only other time a character disappears into the Force is when Yoda dies, which is a dissolve. So there was little precedence on what this would look like in Star Wars canon and how to accomplish it from a production perspective."


Kendrick, who simply must show up in every commercial these days, melts away while fixing a late-night snack. Brandishing a kitchen knife like a lightsaber, she channels Ben Kenobi's famous not-so-last words: "If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."

"We wanted a celebrity fan to deliver the Obi-Wan quote and be the big transition to gameplay," Hartsfield says. "Anna is a legitimate superfan who also happens to resonate with a younger audience. We also like the spin of a woman delivering that famous quote. It speaks to the diversity of the fan base. Star Wars is for everyone. She was perfect."

While Star Wars fandom does indeed transcend international boundaries, some other aspects of American popular culture apparently do not. For example, the scene in which two bros vanish while high-fiving proved particularly difficult to realize, and not because of the special effects.

"We shot in Prague, so we did our casting there and in Berlin," says Hartsfield. "Kids in Europe don't know what a high five is, let alone how to do it. Ever try and teach an 18-year-old kid how to high five naturally? I don't think we ever got one totally perfect—but close. The European awkward high five has kind of become a secret handshake within our group."


Electronic Arts, Star Wars Battlefront, "Become More Powerful"

Agency: Heat, San Francisco

Chairman, Executive Creative Director: Steve Stone

Creative Directors: Anna Rowland, Warren Cockrel

Associate Creative Director, Art Director: Jeff Fang

Associate Creative Director, Writer: Ryan Hartsfield

Producer: Melissa Nagy

Director of Production: Brian Coate

Director of Account Services: Aaron Lang

Account Director: J.T. Pierce

Account Manager: Kevin John

Assistant Account Manager: Rachel Majors

Business Affairs Director: Julie Petruzzo

Client: Electronic Arts

Vice President, Global Creative: Dana Marineau

Senior Director, Global Creative Strategy: Dustin Shekell

Director, Global Creative: Eddie Garabedian

Senior Manager, Global Creative: Doug Harakal

Media, Postproduction Director: Mattias Lindahl, EA DICE

Vice President, Marketing: Lincoln Hershberger

Brand Creative Lead: Neel Upadyhe

Senior Video, Media Director, Editor: Randy Evans, EA DICE

Senior Animator: Cameron Scott, FIDO

Production Company: MJZ

Director: Dante Ariola

Director of Photography: Hoyte Van Hoytema

Senior Executive Producer: Eriks Krumins

Line Producer: Natalie Hill

Production Designer: Quito Cooksey

Production Service Company: Bohemian Pictures, Prague

Editing: No6

Editor: Andrea Macarthur

Assistant Editors: Colin Guthrie, Andrew Manne

Executive Producer: Crissy DeSimone

Post Producer: Yole Barrera

Visual Effects: The Mill

Executive Producer: Sue Troyan

Producer: Dan Roberts

Production Coordinators: Chris Lewis, Anwei Chen

Shoot Supervisors: Chris Knight, Koen Vroeijenstijn

2-D Lead Artist: Chris Knight

3-D Lead Artist: Koen Vroeijenstijn

3-D Artists: Jacob Bergman, Jason Jansky, Steven Olson, Monique Espinoza, Blake Guest, Berk Hakguder, Michael Archambault, Cory Cosper, Majid Esmaeili

2-D Artists: Ben Smith, Scott Wilson, Robert Murdock, Tim Robbins

Art Department: Brett Lopinsky, Kelsey Napier, Matthew Dobrez

Motion Graphics: Kyle Moore, Vinicius Naldi, Greg Park

Colorist: Adam Scott

Executive Producer: Thatcher Peterson

Color Producer: Ali Struck

Audio Mix: Lime Studios

Audio Engineer: Rohan Young

Live Action Sound Design: Rohan Young, Lime Studios

In-Game Sound Design: Charles Deenan, Source Sound


Music Composed and Orchestrated by Gordy Haab

Music Arranged and Edited by Samuel Smythe

Original Star Wars Music by John Williams

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: November 9, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT