To help launch the Asus ZenFone 3, ad agency SuperHeroes dispatched Matt Rubano and Betsy Kenney, members of improv troupe Upright Citizens Brigade, to ask random people on the streets of Manhattan to contribute concepts for a commercial.
The resulting ad was not actually shot using the phone, though it does appear in the narrative, which is stitched together from dozens of disparate ideas. The film below combines that tale, which stars Rubano and Kenney (plus invading aliens and a funky T-Rex), with footage of the pair collecting ideas from on-the-street New Yorkers:
The whole "streetsourced" gimmick is designed to show the phone "empowering people to do anything they want," says Rogier Vijverberg, executive creative director of SuperHeroes, the Amsterdam-based agency best known for its viral stunts involving the general public.
For Asus, "absolutely nothing in the storyline was scripted ahead," he says. "And still, probably seven out of 10 started on the beach." Indeed, the regular folks who provided input—their brains programmed by countless commercials through the years—pitched the sort of self-consciously "wacky" tropes that would make Barton F. Graf proud. Also, the film-within-a-film setup devised by SuperHeroes feels downright Drogafied. (It's the ad and the making-of rolled into one!)
"It was amazing how diverse the storylines were," Vijverberg recalls. "We had to choose from stories like fresh-baked cupcakes with cartoon birds flying around them, shark bites healed by drinking margaritas and gothic cats turning into sweaty handsome men."
Wait … cats that morph into hunks—and they didn't make that into an ad!? Yeah, probably not the kind of thing anyone would want to watch or share a million times anyway.
Executive Creative Director: Rogier Vijverberg
Creative lead: Elliot Stewart-Franzen
Graphic Designer: Krister Lima
Agency Producer: Severien Jansen
Account: Severien Jansen, Evelien Schenkkan
Production Company: HALAL
Directed by: Nils Gerbens
D.O.P.: Rutger Storm
Producer: Sara Nix
Art director: Goof Vermeulen
Editor: Amber Hooijmans
VFX: The Compound
Sound design: Hielke Praagman
Stylist: Carmen Adriana
Lead actors: Matt Rubano, Betsy Kenney
Asus team: Anne Yao, Cindy Chang, Erik Hermanson