As difficult as it is to operate a business during the age of COVID, can you imagine the challenge of starting a business during these difficult times? And for medical professionals, the challenges are multiplied exponentially. This is what a new client of mine was facing, but now not only is her business surviving, it is thriving.
Hi, my name is Randy Liner. I’m Creative Director and owner of RanDesign Media Services, which serves Chattanooga TN, and the surrounding area. Adventure Pediatric Dentistry is owned by Dr. Latasha Garrett, a board-certified dentist. When “Dr. G” first began thinking about opening her own practice, Corona was just a brand of beer, and the term “social distancing” had yet to become an everyday term. By the time the doors opened the world had changed, and with it, medical practices, video production, and marketing.
I met Dr. G on a warm sunny day in September just after she closed the office for the day. We were both wearing face masks, which is ironic because a dentist is all about encouraging beautiful smiles. I got the grand tour, and believe me, Adventure Pediatric Dentistry is truly grand. Catering to children, there are accent walls with bright primary colors, child-size furniture, and large watercolor murals of baby animals throughout.
Dr. G proudly showed me every room in the facility and explained how it was used. She had thought of everything. We had a good conversation where I asked lots of questions, typical and not so typical. It was evident that she loves working with children of all ages and wants to help as many kids as possible to have a healthy mouth and beautiful smile.
Naturally, if you’re promoting a dental practice for children, you would feature star patients along with the staff, and show everyone having a good time. Unfortunately, social distancing did not allow for that, so we were faced with a unique problem. I think that a solution began swirling around in my mind as we talked about her logo. The graphic designer had substituted an adorable cartoon giraffe for the “N” in Adventure. When I mentioned that I could add some motion to the giraffe to bring attention to the logo, she loved the idea. But that still left us without patients to interact with. It needed more.
It suddenly struck me that the answer was all around us – we could bring her decorations to life! The baby animals were so cute, it would be a shame to waste them by just showing a picture of the wall. They could be our fill-in patients! Again, Dr. G. reacted enthusiastically to this idea.
Outwardly, I maintained a calm demeanor as we talked through the idea, but inwardly, I realized that this was suddenly a very ambitious project. We had yet to begin and I was starting to have reservations. But it was too late – the toothpaste was out of the tube, and I had to make it happen. I went back to the studio and began working on the script. I studied the watercolor baby animals. Which ones were the most conducive to featuring in the commercial?
The baby panda would be ideal to show playing with toys on the tiny table in the lobby.
The baby elephant was already in a seated position, why not put her in the dentist chair?
The koala was cute as well, maybe the dental hygienist could interact with the little fella.
But to truly bring brand consistency to the commercial, it had to feature a giraffe, just like the logo. I began the search for giraffe stock footage. There’s a cartoon dancing giraffe. Here’s a real giraffe chewing its cud. And check out the full-size animated walking giraffe.
My confidence began to return. I wrote the script, presented it to Dr. G, and set a date for filming. We did a POV shot (point-of-view) of the hygienist bent down as if talking to a baby koala. We set up the tiny table and chairs for the panda to stand behind. Then Dr. G did a wonderful job interacting with an empty chair, knowing that the elephant would ultimately be sitting there looking right back at her. It was still dicey, anything could go wrong. We wrapped, and the real work began – editing.
First, the soundtrack. I thought that it would be good to use a character voice to grab people’s attention from the very beginning. I called one of my friends who is an established character voice-over artist. His specialty is mimicking cartoon characters. Watching as this unassuming man transforms his voice into a dead-on Fred Flintstone or Scooby Do is almost eerie. But we needed something royalty-free. I invited him to the studio, where we watched the giraffe and he experimented with different character voices. We chose a certain style that fits our spokes-giraffe perfectly. I coached him through the session, and the voiceover turned out to be very cute – even better than I was hoping for.
Using Adobe Photoshop and After Effects, I began compositing the animals, cutting them out, and putting them in place. The commercial was off to a good start. But as I got closer to finishing, I realized that the animals made it cute, but they were not special. Back to the stock footage sites. “The eyes are the window to the soul.” Searching cartoon eyes… googly eyes… eyeballs… yep, somebody had spent a lot of time making animated cartoon eyes, and it was just what I needed. I chose a few of them, manipulated the speed and blinking, and added them to the animals. Perfect! A small detail made a huge difference.
Fortunately, the giraffe chewing its cud was over a blue background, so I was able to chroma-key it over the front of the sign. I manipulated the speed to help simulate talking but making it 100 percent lip-sync was not in the budget.
I’ve gotten so much positive feedback on this commercial, and no small amount of questions. It’s so much fun when a client is willing to let me have fun with their TV commercial, and especially when the final product gets a reaction from viewers. What started as a challenge – how to advertise a pediatric dentist without involving children – turned out to be a wonderfully wacky video that appeals to children of all ages. I hope you enjoyed not only seeing the video but also reading about the inspiration and perspiration behind it.
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