Before you read this, check out one of our favorite projects ever: Amica’s Cricket spot.
There you go. You can stop there, because the video is funny and entertaining, and it speaks for itself. Or maybe you want to know more about what went into making it? Excellent, read on.
Cricket was intended for online use only, but due to the enthusiastic reaction and engagement the ad received, it’s now running as a TV ad, and we’re exploring streaming environments like Roku and even movie theaters.
Advertising starts with a creative strategy. This strategy (as strategies always should) was based on a genuine truth about our client. When you call Amica Insurance, they don’t just sell you an auto, home or life policy. They consult with you and explain what you really need to know. It’s a deeper, more educational, more helpful experience.
Our challenge on the creative team was to turn that message into something that’s so much fun to watch that you don’t want to skip the video when you see it online. We landed on a simple and relatable concept: all of us have experienced unhelpful explanations at times. Let’s show examples of that, and contrast it with how helpful Amica is when it comes to explaining insurance.
We presented Amica with a pair of “Unhelpful Explanations” scripts and a list of additional ideas that we could turn into a campaign. One of those ideas on the list really appealed to the client. It was about someone from a cricket-loving nation attempting to explain that sport to an American. They also had a great suggestion: expand the cast to two cricket fans from two different countries, which really added to the energy and charm.
I was the writer on this project, and didn’t know much about the sport except that it’s confusing to a non-fan, and that it has a lot of quirky terminology. (Slog sweep? Silly mid-on? Duckworth Lewis? I had fun doing research.)
So how did we get from that inspiration to those two minutes of rapid-fire comedy? Through a series of smart and fortunate decisions:
- The script. The extended version is two minutes long, with some delightful twists along the way. The cricket terminology thoroughly confuses the American, who responds with an equally confounding explanation of the balk rule in baseball, but then loses control of the conversation all over again (“You’ve got chickens in baseball?!”). Our original script only had about 30-40 seconds of material. It included the three opening lines, the part about the American trying to explain the balk, and then a list of some cricket lingo that we really liked and hoped they could work into the conversation. The intention all along was to find actors who really understood the sport and could also help us make sure that everything in the spot would ring true for real cricket fans.
- The cast. During the auditions we realized we might have something special. We saw actors from Australia, India, New Zealand, England and other cricket-loving nations, but a few stood out who were especially clever and fun to watch. Those guys understood cricket well enough to improvise at length. We also landed on a talented actor for our bewildered American: a former college baseball player who came up with an improved take on our ‘balk’ explanation.
- The direction. It helps to have a top-shelf director leading the way. We worked with the award-winning Matt Smukler of Prettybird, who is great with humor and naturalistic dialogue.
- The opportunity. Once we saw how it was all coming together, we asked our director and the actors to go for broke and push the conversation for as long as it felt funny. It felt more like a short, improvised film than a commercial. The client saw the potential of this, and gave it their blessing.
- The shoot. We shot in California, on the back patio of a Pasadena home. The full routine evolved over a series of takes. The actors had great chemistry and started adding their own funny material. We called out what we wanted them to keep and asked them to drop some stuff we didn’t like as much. One suggestion we made: when the Australian describes hitting the ball over the fence as a ‘sixer,’ we said that the American might recognize that as a home run, only to be corrected by the cricket guys.
- The editing. Editing is often the invisible element, but here’s a case where you can see how important it is and how much it adds to the spot. We asked our editor, Brad Waskewich of Arcade Edit, to cut a version that included all the best material without worrying about the length. It cut beautifully into two minutes. Watch the spot again with an eye on the editing – the rapid cuts and reaction shots are fantastic.
That’s how it all came together. You know you got it right when someone tells you: “Not only was this commercial funny enough to not skip, but I went looking for it to watch again.” Howzat!