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Making a funny video

For a small company like EMA, trying to decide where to spend scarce marketing dollars is always a difficult decision. “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half” is a statement attributed to John Wanamaker, a business tycoon of the late 19th century. Any of us that have tried to budget monies for advertising can identify with him.

During a brainstorming session, we decided to create a funny video spot advertising our expertise in motor drives and automation. The

L-R, Tripp, Trey, Eddie, Amber, Tyler

problem? We are not a funny business. Truthfully, we’re a rather tech-nerd, boring business, except to those that are knowledgeable about what we do. We take great pride in our expertise, and the fact that we are highly rated by our customers.

In fact, as far as we know, we have the highest customer satisfaction rating of any company in our industry. We’ve advertised all of that in the past, but none of it seemed to be fodder for using humor. So, the “we are boring but good” idea became “let’s make fun of ourselves being boring.”

We contacted Atlanta based comedy writer and producer Tripp Crosby and discussed some ideas. Tripp grew up in our area; we’d recently seen him on stage at a Chik Fil A leadership conference, and several of us at EMA found his material hilarious.

Tripp and his partner, Tyler Stanton, came to our Georgia office, and held a conceptual and idea meeting with Amber Wiley, Trey Mayfield, Abdou Barrow and myself.

Tripp came back to us with three different ideas to mull over. We finally selected one in which a very boring EMA guy, would be teaching a variable-frequency drive repair class to a group of grammar school children. Tripp had written some very funny lines, and outlined several funny visual concepts. We gave him the go-ahead to prepare a more detailed script.

Sometime later, he called back, saying that he and Tyler had been thinking about it, and had a funnier idea. They suggested the concept of a “career day” at a grammar school, where an EMA tech would be the hit of the day. Children would be cheering about “sine coded pulse width modulated outputs” while being disdainful of the other dads there doing presentations. The storyline was that EMA Technician Kevin finds out his son’s school is doing a “Career Day” and begins daydreaming about being a huge hit there . Most of the piece would take place within this dream sequence. The video would end with him waking up while dancing in his underwear, with his son looking at him. We’d then tag with a blurb about being boring, but good.

We immediately liked and approved the idea. Tripp and his company set up the “shoot,” cast the actors,

Actor Brandon Odell (aka Kevin Stuart, EMA Tech)

finalized the scripts, and we signed off on it. On the day of taping, we in essence, took over Mountain Park Elementary school in Lilburn, Georgia with the blessings of the principal and staff. Tripp and his crew set up the sound equipment, lights, High Definition video equipment, and spent a lot of time preparing the backgrounds, props, and blocking shots.

Since the production required a number of grammar school “extras” the room was full of children and their parents milling around.

Actress Kathleen Batson (aka Flirty Teacher)

Anyone familiar with children can imagine how time consuming and, at times, frustrating it can be to get them to follow detailed instructions, over and over again, as a number of shots were blocked, lit, shot, and shot again. But Tripp is a patient and competent person, and despite the time consumed, it went well.

The Kids

After being at the school from around 9 AM to 3 PM, they moved to the home set, to shoot the opening and closing segments. Tripp had elected to use either my den or kitchen, and after looking at both, decided to do it in the den. So, in an amazingly short time, he and his crew moved the production equipment into our den, and got ready to shoot. With only one child and adult actor present, it went much faster, and a number of takes only consumed a relatively short time.

After the shooting is when most of the work is actually done. It took Tripp several weeks to finish his edits, and for us to approve them. The final product was considerably different than where we started, but over time, it began to take form. Then “career day” was posted on youtube, and the feedback from our customers was not just positive, but enthusiastic. You can view the video CAREER DAY by clicking here. We really do think the video is hilarious, whether you know anything about drives or not. We are interested in what you think, so let us know!

Brandon in the underwear scene
Director Tripp Crosby

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4 Responses

  1. I really don’t know anything about “Drives and Automation” but this commercial is a scream.. so is the other stuff that Tripp does.

    Interesting story about making the video.. thanks for sharing

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