The Spot: Gifts That Do

Electronics inspire real people to do great things in Best Buy's holiday ads

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IDEA: In so many holiday ads, the moment of gift giving is the culmination of the journey—an easily exploited emotional high point for those giving and receiving. In Best Buy's new spot (running as a :30 and a :60), it's just the beginning of the story. The focus isn't the technology inside the latest gadgets but the amazing, unexpected things you can do with it—things the retailer, while serving as a knowledgeable guide, could never have predicted. Crispin Porter + Bogusky scoured the country looking for real people who have done inspiring things with gifts they received—finding, among many others, Claire Jantzen, a 13-year-old digital photographer; and Brian Jones, who used his laptop to help turn the house from A Christmas Story into a museum. The theme is: "What will your gift do?" "It's a simple message," said CP+B creative director Dave Cook. "It pushes people to think about giving in a way that could actually lead to something great."

TALENT: The people range from grand to goofy. Robert Nay used his laptop to start his own gaming company at age 14. Jamie Moran, a surfer, created a wave-finding app. Ryan Rusnak was so enthralled by his TV that he never wanted to leave the couch—so he built a machine that launches beverages at him from across the room. "Telling real stories was important," said CP+B senior integrated producer Ramon Nuñez. "It makes us feel like, 'Hey, I could do that too.' " The agency and the directors, Emmett and Brendan Malloy, used agency JLA to find their subjects. "We didn't want to get too heavy, but we also wanted our stories to have substance … [to be] both relatable and entertaining," said Nuñez. At the end, a Best Buy employee, flanked by four others, makes the pitch straight to camera.

COPYWRITING: The gifters and giftees split a single sentence in each scene. "My gift turned my daughter…" starts Jantzen's mom, and Claire finishes: "… into an Instagram sensation." "Splitting the lines was just one of many deliveries we tried," said interactive copywriter James Beikmohamadi. The secret was to boil down each line to "its simplest, most compelling form—something that would explain their innovation quickly but not have it be too straight," added senior copywriter Jim Heekin. Jantzen, Nay and Jones are also the subjects of longer videos posted online. In scripting those spots, said Heekin, "we focused more on what questions to ask them versus what precise lines they would read."

ART DIRECTION/FILMING: The Malloys shot on location. "They come from a documentary background, and we knew their insights and experience would help us honor these real stories," said executive creative director Steve Babcock. Each shoot had its obstacles. "We went from being out on a boat in the ocean, where Emmett and the makeup lady got very seasick but kept on working, to inside the Christmas Story house in Cleveland, where it started raining as we started our exterior shot," said associate creative director Jamin Duncan. A 4D camera and RED camera got a mix of formal and candid footage. The store shots were done at a Best Buy in Palm Springs, Calif., over two nights. The Rusnak scene was tough. "I think there was one take where he nailed the line and caught the soda," said Duncan.

SOUND: The soundtrack, "The Bright Side" by Tim Myers, "fits the feeling that the spot evokes," Beikmohamadi said. "It has a nice bed without lyrics and an uplifting vocal."

MEDIA: National broadcast and cable through Dec. 24, supported by cinema spots, rich and standard banners, including YouTube and Xbox, and radio.


The three long-form videos:


Client: Best Buy

Spot: "Holiday Montage"

Agency: Crispin Porter + Bogusky

Partner/Worldwide Chief Creative Officer: Rob Reilly

Executive Creative Director: Steve Babcock

Creative Directors: Dave Cook, Rich Tlapek, Matt Fischvogt

Associate Creative Directors: Alvaro Ramos, Jamin Duncan

Senior Art Director: Asan Aslam

Senior Copywriters: Jim Heekin, Peter Majarich

Senior Interactive Copywriter: Moon Yang

Interactive Copywriter: James Beikmohomadi

Design Art Director: Jeff Hunter

Associate Design Director: Scott Pridgen

Group Planning Director: Benny Thomas

Senior Cog: Omar Quinones

Senior Integrated Producer: Ramon Nuñez

Integrated Producer: PJ Haarsma

Jr. Integrated Producer: Jamie Slade

Jr. Integrated Music Producer: Chip Herter

Production Company & City: HSI, Culver City, Calif.

Directors: Emmett Malloy, Brendan Malloy

Executive Producer (Production Co): Kim Dellara

Producer (Production Co): Caleb Dewart

Bidding Producer: Mari Geraci

Head of Production: Doron Kauper

Post Production & City: Method, Los Angeles

Post Producer: Paula Jimenez

Editor: Kevin Zimmerman

Editing Producer: Leslie Tabor

Sound Design Company & City: Lime Studios, Santa Monica, Calif.

Animation Company & City: Buck Studios, Los Angeles

Group Account Director: Scot Beck

Account Director: Adrienne Walpole

Management Supervisor: JP Nissenberg

Content Supervisor: Carrie Frash

Content Manager: Nick Larkin

Assistant Content Manager: Dave Ellerbee

Business Affairs Manager: Lisa Gillies

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.