Special thanks to Justin Bajan from David&Goliath in LA for providing AdPulp readers with this special inside look at the making of KIA’s “Dreams” Super Bowl spot.
It all started with a dream. Sort of.
I was sitting with my composition book in hand staring out of the window watching planes land at LAX when I blurted out to my partner, Dan Madsen, “Hey, what if we did something with dreams?” Little did I know that a random question like that would turn into months and months of writing, crafting, presenting, killing, changing, selling, licensing, bidding, re-thinking, shooting, editing, mixing, coloring and visual…effecting.
Dan and I were one of many teams working on this year’s Super Bowl commercial for Kia at David & Goliath. We competed against lots of amazing creatives and ended up working nights, weekends and everything in between, as we hoped to crack the winning idea.
After we got our concepts into some kind of digestible state, we presented them to our boss, ECD, Colin Jeffery. He smiled at this spot in particular— a good sign, and instantly saw what we were trying to do. He told us our concept would get to live in the Super Bowl war room—a conference room with bulletin boards filled with tons of amazing ideas.
So we boarded our precious baby up and hoped it would outlast the thousands of ideas the rest of the agency came up with. We watched it sit safely on a wall in the Super Bowl war room as countless other campaigns were posted and ripped down all around it.
Then on October 7th, something great happened. I turned 29. Well, that wasn’t that great, but what was great—our spot sold. We couldn’t believe it. Dan and I were in shock—we ran out of the office in joy like a scene from Jerry McGuire. Oh, and then I had my first child, Lydia, two days after. Cameron Crowe, eat your heart out.
After a week of paternity, we were back at it, talking to Noam Murro and other A-listers, then awarding Noam the job. Awesome guy on the phone. Equally awesome guy in real life. He really upped my Yiddish game.
Then we tried to secure the celebs and get the jokes we wrote into our spot. Dan had used a picture of Adriana Lima for his comp and boom: she agrees to appear in the spot. We had a fighting scene with Chuck Liddell in it—and eventually Mr. Liddell signed on. Colin, our owner/CCO, David Angelo, and our producer, Paul Albanese, drive up to meet Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue and the world’s most notorious band is in it. We thought a cowboy riding a rhino would be funny. We thought dual lumberjacks sawing a 50 ft sub would be cool. We wanted the entire stadium filled with bikini girls. Then we read all of this as line items in an official document. Rad.
Cut to us on day one at the Speedway in Irwindale, CA. I park and get asked if I would like to meet Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx. Um, yes please. I walk into their trailer and find two of the most down-to-earth and normal people I’ve ever met. They mentioned how much they liked the spot while I marveled at their trailer.
A couple hours later, we’re shooting. It’s dark. It’s cold. Good thing we have literally tons of pyro to keep us warm. Motley Crue plays Kickstart My Heart for like 6 hours. Those guys are pros.
Day two was the meadow scene. Never have a horse, a deer, a rabbit and grass been that interesting before. Ever have a van drive you a mere 500 feet over and over again from craft services to the set? I can now say I have.
Day three and four were back at the racetrack. Dan and I watched a giant sub get trucked and forklifted around. We witnessed 200 bikini girls scream for hours in the stands, Chuck Liddell fake-fight a huge Eastern European dude, a guy pretend to catch a giant shark (RIP giant shark scene) and last, but nottttttttt least—Adriana Lima wave a huge flag back and forth for hours. I think there’s a video of this on Youtube somewhere. She was amazing. She had these assassin laser eyes that could steal your soul if you looked too closely. She was and is the real deal.
The last two days consisted of us shooting at Universal Studios. We were at Stage 27, where they shot scenes from Indiana Jones, Die Hard and Jurassic Park. Not bad. I got to see the tallest closet ever—20 feet tall. I got to learn what a motion control camera does. And I got to watch our Sandman actor, Ric Sabien, sacrifice his body for Dan and I’s silly idea.
All throughout production, I kept thinking of how crazy it was that Dan and I scribbled this idea into our notebooks and then all of a sudden, like 500 people helped bring it to life. And oh, did I mention this was Dan’s first spot? Ever? How’s he going to cope with reality after this?
So there you have it. If I wasn’t already 1000 words over a typical blog post, I could regale you with how Adriana wore the wrong bathing suit, but we loved it anyways, Chuck Liddell’s surprisingly minimalistic outfit while it was 35 degrees out and Noam Murro’s use of the Yiddish word schmekel.
The biggest thanks in the world goes to my wonderful wife, Becky, for putting up with endless all-nighters, all-dayers and for never complaining at all. I was treated way better than I deserved.
Shoutouts to Jim Haygood and his assistant Dylan at Union Editorial. Great guys. To Pip, Patrick, Rob, Marissa and the smoothie girl at Method—super accommodating people who laughed at 97% of my jokes. To 740 Sound, Lime, and Stefan at Company 3—I’ll miss your Michael Bay and JJ. Abrams’ stories.