BB&T needed to show their ability to fulfill their clients’ financial needs at each stage of life so we devised a brand narrative across time that would connect with audiences from three separate demographics.
Pace, an advertising agency, and Zero260 Films reached out to Neymarc Visuals to develop, co-produce, and direct a spot for BB&T. They knew we had the narrative chops to design a brand film that would connect with an audience. They were also particularly interested in our high-level visual effects (VFX) capabilities.
After diving into BB&T’s brief, we realized the tonality of the narrative and the brand's values would not mesh with the virtualized CGI world they envisioned. Instead, we felt that BB&T should connect with their consumers in a more authentic and true-to-life way.
It’s a risky move to suggest adjusting a client brief, but agencies hire us because they trust we will elevate the storytelling and create synergy with the client’s branding. It was a difficult decision, but the piece needed to be less visually flashy and more focused on the narrative.
The original brief was a story that followed two college students who fall for each other on a road trip to the beach and move through the multiple stages of life together. The brand wanted to show consumers how different BB&T bank cards help achieve goals as they grow up. However, a beach setting seemed more appropriate for a casual spring fling than the start of deep, lifelong love. The story needed a more profound environment, and the team decided on a cliff-top with a gorgeous mountain view.
We initially considered editing the trees out of this shot and replacing them with a turbulent ocean view. However, Sarah Verstraete, Head of Production at Neymarc Visuals, began scouting locations at a nearby state park. She and the rest of the team soon fell in love with the green mountain pines. All that was missing was a bit more drama. How did they achieve that? Have the couple connect in the middle of a rainstorm.
Conceptually, we wanted to portray three jumps in time - one for each credit card. The best way to cue the audience they were moving through time was with smart casting and special-effects hair and makeup.
For this spot, we had two sets of actors to play the main characters. Starting the film off were Ashley Hutchinson and Rolando Chusan as young college students. Makeup artist Kelly Budd gave Ashley a youthful touch with some hair extensions. Then to age our characters into parents for the second act, she concocted some special-effects makeup magic.
It was challenging to cast the right couple for the jump in time to midlife. We were especially having difficulty finding someone to play our middle-aged female character. Because of a striking similarity in photos, we asked the lead actress Ashley if her mother, Jamie, might be interested in playing that part. Jamie had never acted before, but after a little coaching from the Neymarc Brothers, she was ready. Jamie and Ashley even received the same haircut so that the transition from young motherhood to middle-age had an additional visual anchor.
Attention to detail is apparent throughout the entire BB&T spot. We made it clear that the story was advancing through time through the props and setting. The first scene was shot in the Neymarc brothers’ grandfather's house, whereas the end scene took place in a modern-looking mansion. Even the color palette choices emphasized progression: starting with darker, vintage hues and gradually introducing brighter and lighter ones to mimic modern times.
Having an in-house VFX team allowed our directors to enhance and create visualizations that take the story to another level.
A spot where VFX enhanced the project was in creating the façade of a mechanic's shop. While it may appear that the mechanic who fixed the characters' car was in the mountains, the garage was actually in a small town. We relocated that small-town garage into an isolated outpost of help for our protagonists using a little bit of VFX magic.
VFX also came into play for the drone footage of our characters driving through a state park. Unfortunately, life imitated art in that instance, and the actual Jeep Wagoneer used on set broke down. Delaying the shoot to repair the SUV would have been expensive because the team would need additional park permits. It would also waste a significant amount of time on a project with a firm delivery date. To save the client money and deliver the video on time, our team used drone footage of an empty country road and then used VFX to add the vehicle in post-production.
In post-production, it immediately became clear that the original duration of 60 seconds would not be long enough to tell the full story. Andrew Neymarc, co-founder and director at Neymarc Visuals, had anticipated this early on, sensing that three unique moments would be a tall order for one minute without jarring transitions. The audience needed extra seconds to receive the full emotional impact of our story and characters.
BB&T allowed for a full 2 minutes and 10 seconds with a bit of persuasion from the ad agency. They also agreed to license a famous song to tie the entire project together. "Youth" by Daughter was used initially as a temporary track to drive the piece, but after hearing the song in the video's rough cut, everyone knew that this was the song.
With a full brand film and high-quality soundtrack, the BB&T video was quickly becoming more of a theatrical release than a piece of traditional promo content. Recognizing the immense body of work they now had, BB&T and Pace decided to release the spot in movie theaters to run before previews.
Thanks to the longer cinematic brand film, BB&T could get a theatrical release and benefit from various marketing assets for their social media. From the film, three shorter ads were created. Additionally, extra content and footage were used as visual assets for advertising.
After completing this project, BB&T and Pace both held small watch parties, with many of the staff getting goosebumps from watching the video. Customers reacted similarly, with praise flooding in on the BB&T social channels.
12.4M unique viewers saw the piece. A number 62% higher than expected because so many people shared the content with their friends. The campaign saw 313k clicks to the product pages, spiking traffic for each of the three cards to new records during the campaign:
BB&T saw a year-over-year increase of 28% in booked credit cards. By all metrics, the BB&T ad exceeded all expectations of the brand and agency.
Client: BB&T Bank
Agency: PACE CO
Directors: The Neymarc Brothers
Executive Producers: Dan Halprin and Richard Goldberg
Producer: Sarah Verstraete
VFX Supervisor: Michael Tan
Music: Youth by Daughter