Bent Image Labs' Ken Lidster recently directed another brilliantly hilarious stop-motion spot, this time in conjunction with Deutsch/LA to promote the Diet Dr Pepper brand.
I Exist is a stop-motion extravaganza that evokes the Stop-motion/Rudolph animation specials of old. The :30 features an unlikely cast of fantastic characters arranged in a circle of chairs as part of the "I exist!" support group. The Easter Bunny, a leprechaun, the Tooth Fairy, Sasquatch, and an alien sit in a circle listening raptly as Santa Claus complains about not being believed by his core constituents.
When the circle's Diet Dr Pepper delivery man empathizes, Santa doubts that he could understand his plight. The Easter Bunny samples the drink and goes crazy over its tremendous flavor. Still, the other mythical creatures are skeptical. "So you want people to believe there's a satisfying diet drink? Good luck with that one, Bub," Santa says, as the entire cast launches into uncontrollable laughter.
"You can wait your whole life and never get a commercial script with such an outstanding plot. I thought this was the best thing I'd ever read before I even got to the end of the first sentence," noted Lidster. "The folks at Deutsch really hit a home run with this one, and I'm so glad they looked to Bent to make this happen."
The process for creating this campaign parallels work Lidster established for JWT New York a few years back. Lipton Brisk's Dojo featured a stop-motion battle between martial arts legend Bruce Lee, the Karate Kid and his master, Mr. Miyagi, which earned an animation category honor in the 2000 AICP Show and inclusion in the MoMA's film archives. Lidster also directed memorable stop-motion campaigns for Chips Ahoy, while Bent Image is known for countless 'Rudolph' inspired visuals including OfficeMax (Santa's Helper) with Eddie Steeples, AFLAC with an animated flying goose, and two Alltel campaigns.
Lidster and the rest of the Bent team worked closely with the agency on all stages of the project, from developing the characters' personalities, going from character sketches through a variety of clay models to pop through staging, and final animation performance. Deutsch also visited Bent's Portland studio several times to approve pre-production elements, final lighting, initial scene preparation, post production, and final color correct.
Bent created duplicates of the set and triples of the nine-inch-high characters to streamline production. They then shot the stop-motion on high-res digital cameras. Certain shots, such as the soda pour, were done on one of the studio's in-house Red cameras, using the Red Ultra Prime lenses.
"Ken is a master when it comes to projects such as this," noted Bent Partner/EP Ray Di Carlo. "He's second-to-none with character development and has an amazing attention to detail work ethic. In typical Bent fashion, the team rallied together to create the entire campaign in-house. The agency came to us with a great idea and we're fortunate they were such strong collaborators - we're really happy with the final product."