Recently, I received a storyboard from a great creative, whom I've known forever. We’ve collaborated on multiple projects over the years. This project was for an economic development campaign for the city of Mansfield. It was meant to encourage people to move there. The script was actually using reverse psychology by saying don’t come to Mansfield “We’re pretty busy right now”. After looking at it I said “No way will that get made,” but he insisted it was sold and signed off on. So, I said, “I’m in.”
He engaged a prolific writer on the project as well as ASA Productions out of Atlanta, to write the music. The client approved the concept to riff on the Broadway show, The Music Man. So that’s what we did. Off we went to scout the city of Mansfield. Although we had grandiose plans for the shoot like marching bands in the street and stuff like that, the budget just wouldn’t allow for it.
I suggested we should use an improv group, to try to get the concept across in a loose, funny fashion. I’d used Dallas improve before on a Frito Lay project with Garth Brooks and they’d done a great job. Since we wanted it to be very sketch comedy, so we just let them do their thing. Most of the final pieces were shot within a one block area in Mansfield.
After production, we had Marc Hoffmeister do the edit. We gave it to him and he found the timing in a very organic way. When we showed it to the clients, they loved it! We were surprised that they even went for the part when the actress adlibbed a line about seeing her husband naked. I thought no way was that going to fly, but it did.
We heard that the head of the school board got wind of it, they said, “But what do you mean? We WANT students to come here.” They didn’t get it. It escalated up the chain of local government officials and spiraled downhill from there. The agency and the clients presented it at different council meetings, and we thought one of the council members was going to lose his job. The agency asked them, “Why would you spend all this money and not use this campaign?”
We are still waiting for approval on this but did get permission to show it around a bit, and evidently, other municipalities have also tried the whole reverse psychology thing and been quite successful. It was not only a blast to produce, but we believe that ultimately it will be a very successful campaign for the city of Mansfield. When and if they decide to run with it.