We’re excited (and more than a little honored) to report that last week Pivot Marketing picked up a Gold Award and Best in Show at the American Advertising Awards for AAF Indianapolis. For what, you might ask? Mulch, that’s what. More specifically, TV spots designed to sell mulch. And that got us thinking, how exactly does a series of ads about something as exciting as mulch make it to the top of the heap? And who even makes commercials about mulch in the first place?
To answer the last question first: Pivot does. Along with a talented video team, great on-screen talent, a local merchant with an eye for what’s cool and a willingness to let us close his shop for a day, and—most important—a fearless client that trusts its marketing team.
As with all good concepts, this one was hatched over Chinese food and raised by beer. Let me set the stage:
The year of our Lord 2013. The artisanal revolution was at its zenith. Our lattes were “hand-crafted”, our milkshakes “hand-scooped”, chicken wings were being “hand-spun”, and our meat was “hand-rubbed” while Mumford and Sons played softly in the background. It made all the difference. David Rees was hand-sharpening pencils for clients worldwide. Pinterest was king, pickling was back, we were all super serious, and we were all better for it.
In such a magical and enchanting world, how could a bulk delivery mulch supplier ever hope to survive? By beating the hipsters at their own game, that’s how. Small-batch, single-origin, artisanal mulch fashioned specifically for the individual customer at the hands of a true craftsman. A product that understands the weight of history, produced by an artisan who lives it. The very height of authenticity.
But back in the real world—especially the world of Midwestern advertising—a concept with tongue so firmly planted in cheek is easy to kill. It’s weird, intentionally silly, heavily reliant on the viewer having a pre-existing knowledge of contemporary culture, and almost certain to result in more than a few people simply saying, “I don’t get it.” Realizing that all of that’s okay is an important moment. It’s also where the fun begins. After that, finding just the right talent, a video team skilled enough to make it all seem real, and creating a character that walks a fine line between the believable and the absurd was the easy part.
Once we’d drafted and cut literally hundreds of lines, we had a good starting point for our script, which we promptly threw in the trash. Another important moment. That’s when we began asking the difficult questions. Who is Woodrow, really? Where did he come from? What drives him? Is he more of a Carrie or a Samantha? If he was a Pokémon, how many hit points would it take to kill him? If he was a Kardashian, would his name be Koodrow? You see, it’s about really getting to know the character. Then the script writes itself. Not really, but it helps.
After a lot of planning and a day of shooting, we had what we needed to spin the yarn. The perfect Woodrow (shout out to Zach Reeves), rented sunlight on a rainy day, a beautifully designed set courtesy of Kristofer Bowman (@upstatemn, formerly known as The Inventorialist), and footage (that we didn’t use in the final spots) of our hero taking a mulch shower. The rest is history, including this billboard:
In the end, the credit goes to a client that was willing to take chances and partners that were as invested as we were in creating good work. So thank you, GreenCycle and Bayonet Media. We couldn’t have done it without you.