My buddy Bill Cokas and I have been looking for a good project to work on together for years. He’s the Creative Director at Strategic Insights –a boutique agency in North Carolina–and we’ve always thought it would be cool to collaborate on something that brought our professional skills into the picture.
That finally happened this summer after another friend at an animal shelter here in Northern California told me they had a overabundance of Chihuahuas and chi mixes up for adoption. The problem was matching them to enough prospective adopters who’d be a good fit. I immediately blurted out “Sounds like a marketing problem” and called Bill as soon as I could. Within a week we were working together on that thing we’d always talked about and I’m proud to unveil the results right here.
This was a true group effort with lots of creative people donating their skills and time from across the country. Bill is an adjunct professor at UNC Chapel Hill and he had his students treat it as a class project. They came up with three concepts that Bill and his creative partner at SI refined and within a few weeks we had buy in from the shelter on the There’s Room in Your Life for a Chihuahua. Bill sums up the approach we took most accurately: “The best advertising both solves a problem and tells a story. With this campaign we needed to put Chihuahuas back on the radar of open-minded adopters, people who weren’t seeking a particular breed. This campaign dramatizes just how many people they might be right for.”
On the photography side I decided to treat this like any other commercial project–with the exception of having no budget at all–and brought in production help with the aid of Filiz Rezvan at the Rite Agency who volunteer produced the whole thing. She also pulled in Jon-Luke and Roman from Zeda Films for grip, gaffing and more support than I can even begin to list here. I was just blown away at the variety and quality of lighting we were able to get that day. Filiz also pinch hit as stylist and I and my studio manager, Emily, handled casting, planning and prop-gathering. For studio space we used the Rite Agency and literally filled it up with more c-stands, lights, props and talent than I thought possible in such a small space.
On the shoot day 13 chihuahuas sourced through local rescue groups, their proud parents and five human models showed up for a 15-hour long day that involved five miniature sets, lots of tiny and ridiculously cute costumes and a hell of a lot of fun. Special thanks to Matt Fuentes, Lollie Ortiz, Grace Ng, Creta Valiente and Roman Prudkin for nailing it as our human talent. Here’s a small sampling of what went on behind the scenes that day. Enjoy!
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