Mindfreak ‘Criss Angel’ TV Commercial
Recently I was approached by one of the leading marketing company in Los Angeles, Pinnacle Direct Marketing to write & direct a ‘different’ commercial for their client Criss Angel. Criss is a hugely successful and well known entertainer throughout the USA and the world for his amazing, death defying and stylistic illusions on the TV Show ‘MindFreak’ which is now in it’s 6th successful season.
In respect to Direct Marketing, I was fairly green on the dynamics and tactical, systematic approaches typically found in the “call now and we’ll throw in a set of steak knives” type infomercials. They follow a very precise, and to be honest, dead boring structure with specific allocated content partitions depending on the 60 second or 2 minute durations of the commercial. I have always steered clear of these ‘system’ based commercials as I’d rather not have my creativity crushed by format boundaries, 1800 numbers and generic content partition rules. Not to mention that most of these commercials are written and filmed by cheap ‘run of the mill’ video companies with little to no budgets and with the objective of.
SO WHY decide to write an infomercial!? I was the first laugh and highlight that I had never written or directed these types of long form marketing commercials before. ‘Perfect’, said Pinnacle, “That’s exactly why we want you to do this”. I was now slightly intrigued and further discussions came to fruition with Pinnacle agreeing to give me entirely free run on the long form concept, style and execution of the commercial… as long as they could have their 12 second ‘Call to Action’ (CTA) at the end. This was music to my ears. We had a deal.
Surprisingly excited and now armed with this new found enthusiasm at the prospect of breaking lots of rules, I thought I would at least educate myself in the regular boring structure templates which infomercials religiously adhere to. As intense as Trinity downloading the flight program to a Bell212 helicopter in ‘The Matrix’, I ingested a full day of research and analysis of infomercial production, discussing the typical infomercial structure with the pros at Pinnacle and learning the do’s and do-not’s. I was now perfectly educated and poised to break all the rules I had just learned.
My Angle on Angel- Criss Angel’s talent along with his unique style is what has given him his edge amongst other illusionists and it’s what has aided in solidifying his unique performances and CRISS ANGEL branding. For this reason, I felt it necessary to retain this style and image throughout the commercial. Many infomercials follow a standard, corporate style formula which is very creatively unappealing and not complimentary enough to Criss’ unique styles and image. I wanted to abandon the dull repetitiveness of the infomercials which the industry as subscribed to and include certain colors, gothic themed artwork & text, high energy music, visual effects, on screen attitudes, signature moves, and editing techniques & styles similar to Criss’ highly successful TV show ‘MindFreak’.By injecting these important elements into the backbone of a successful infomercial structure, we maintain an instant continuity with every other piece of circulating media associated with the Criss Angel brand and image whilst still presenting an effective and visually attractive commercial which sells the product. By visually hitting home and encapsulating all who watch, our viewers will not want to switch channel. Our viewers will be driven to purchase the product by genuine intrigue and their underlying want and need to be the center of attention, not just through a persuasive ‘buy now and save’ V/O at the conclusion of the commercial.
The final, approved TVC Synopsis:
Commercial begins with a hook in the form of a ‘Breaking News’ report read by a wide eyed TV news desk reporter. This alone will prove to be an extremely effective element to grab and retain the audiences attention for the duration of the commercial. The breaking news will outline several strange phenomenon occurring throughout the USA and show live news feeds of regular people levitating and doing various other freaky illusions. A girl walking in mid air in a park, a man levitating a laptop on a subway train etc. People around are shocked at what they see, some are even scared. Home video and cellphone video snippets will heighten the mystique and credibility of the broadcast.
The live news feed begins to break up, static rips across the screen and we see Criss in a similar visual stance as demonstrated on www.crissangel.com . Criss says several lines in a quick direct to camera piece and informs us that anyone can do what you have just seen. Some quick visual effects and rock music form the transition which takes us straight onto the streets of Las Vegas. Background rock music creates atmosphere and anticipation as we enjoy a quick montage of Criss performing at his best. The audience is in disbelief and is amazed at the insane illusions which are performed right in front of their eyes.
We then return to the visually stunning studio shots where Criss informs us that any of these illusions can be performed quickly and easily by anyone, anywhere and he is going to teach us how to do it.
The commercial enters the final 12 seconds by a stylish CTA accompanied by rock music and a mysterious/deep voiceover outlining how you can perform these illusions yourself just as quick and easily as what you have just seen an that Criss’ kit contains the secrets and the necessary tools you MUST have to perform the illusions. We are informed that due to secrecy, there is only a limited number of Criss’ kits available for release so secure your kit now.
The commercial is concluded by a ECU of Criss’ eyes as he says ‘Are YOU ready to believe?’
Thanks Criss Angel and his Manager and to Pinnacle Direct Marketing for their trust and allowing me the freedom to break the rules they re so accustomed to and going out on a limb with this project.Thanks also to my rockstar storyboard artist, Mercer Boffey for boarding the TVC and bringing the vision to life for the pitches. I will post the video of the final commercial once it’s completed and released with a copyright waiver.