Post Magazine

March 2011

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These days there are more and more avenues available to reach audiences, and creatives are taking advantage of as many as possible.Want to find a way to literally put the audience into a commercial? Have an idea for a wacky TV series that might not get past the suits at a big network? Looking to take visual story- telling to a new level with the iPad? Currently, it’s all possible. VENDOR INC Vendor Inc. (, a media agnostic ad agency, might have opened its doors in Austin only 15 months ago, but the company is far from a start-up.With four veteran partners, these guys were ready for action once they turned on the lights. “We all have about 15-20 years experience in the industry,work- ing at big creative agencies,” explains partner Jeff Nixon.“Three of us — myself, Joe Shands and Clark Evans — come from creative direc- tors backgrounds and one of us — James Martin — has a strategic and research background.” Shands has worked at Weiden Kennedy, Goody Silverstein/SF and most recently Chiat Day, LA; Nixon comes from BBDO; Evans was also at Chiat Day; and James Martin spent his entire career at GSD&M.An impressive pedigree. Vendor rented space north of downtown Austin and within six months got in on a pitch for HomeAway (, a Website where people can list their vacation homes.They obviously impressed, because Vendor won the job, a digital campaign that in- cluded a TV spot,Web films and a social media angle.Vendor fin- ished the Prague-based Arri Alexa shoot, with director Rocky Mor- ton, on the first anniversary of their opening. “The Ministry of Detourism” campaign kicked off during Super Bowl XLV as a traditional commercial called Catch, for which Vendor then created two interactive paths that visitors to HomeAway’s Website could explore. “For the commercial, we created an umbrella theme for the whole brand,” explains Nixon, “and it’s played out through this se- cret government agency called The Ministry of Detourism (no one wants to be called a tourist!).The commercial opens as a helicopter, carrying the minister, approaches the secret ministry’s home base. He enters and we see that all kinds of tests are going on.The spot plays out and at the end he leaves in the helicopter.” That’s the broadcast spot, but Vendor made some changes for the interactive version. One of those tests that Nixon references above is “a gag where a test baby gets catapulted.The user decides whether it goes over a wall, through it, or into it.They can choose which scenario plays out and then take a picture of themselves and put it on the test baby.Then it will spin out the Super Bowl spot with the users starring in it.The user can post it to their Facebook wall or email it to friends.” Nixon says this was designed to get people to visit, but when they get there they find that’s just the be- ginning.“We have created a way for homeowners to build their own spot with their home in it; it ends with a house tour.” Vendor called on hybrid production company B-Reel (www.b- to build the interactive experience.“We pick up when the helicopter takes off to leave, except this time the minister is flying to your home, where ever the listing is. It’s going to send a probe down using Google Earth footage and we pull images from the home listing to create the tour. It goes into the listed house and shows off the differ- ent rooms.This spot can then be used as a tool for poten- tial renters.You just send them a link to your own Super Bowl spot. Not only is it entertaining, it has a lot of utility for the homeowner.” The Mill London was called in to add clouds, mist and snow for the exterior scenes (accentuated by matte paintings).They called on Flame and Flare for their work. John Grover of Cut & Run edited the commercial spot, and Lime Studios in Santa Monica did the audio mix. “The whole process was a testament to a small group of super talented production partners working together every step of the way. From concept through production,” concludes partner Clark Evans. Interactive Making user experiences more in-your-face and fun. Post • March 2011 24 Interest By Randi Altman

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