For as long as we've known him, Tom Duff, president of post-production house Optimus/Chicago, has always been about trying to elevate the Chicago ad industry. Make it stronger. More creative.
One of Duff's latest projects, the Optimus One Shot contest, has just concluded. First announced last August, the project was conceived to help spotlight some of the best emerging creative talent in Chicago. Participation was limited to local creatives with five or fewer years of advertising experience.
The brief for the contest called for the creation of a television spot that captured the feeling and/or act of being done. No brand name was attached to the brief, because, secretly, Duff was looking for a spot to promote Optimus as a place where a TV commercial is finished -- where a spot is finally "done."
Duff told us he received 34 contest entries in the form of scripts for a spot. A panel of judges -- directors Frank Todaro and Aaron Ruell and two creative teams from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners/San Francisco and Fallon/Minneapolis -- assessed the entries and chose the winning script, which was to be fully produced. The winning script came from Jane Ackerson and Nate DeLeon of DDB/Chicago, who, we're told, had never before had a TV commercial fully produced.
Their finished spot, "Done," features a montage of scenes that express being done or done-in, including a young man who fails to make the cut in a spelling bee, a turkey that is just at that perfect state of doneness in the oven, a deer that is about to be done in by an approaching vehicle and a group of young runners who are finally done as they drag themselves across the finish line.
That moment of doneness is visually reinforced in each scene by a little round red plastic device typically implanted in turkeys and designed to pop up when the fowl is done. But in the winning TV spot the device pops up on the backs of humans and animals as well.
There's a wistful, elegiac feeling about the finished commercial -- made more so by the unhurried editing and somber music. But "Done" holds one's attention and draws in the viewer. All in all, not a bad start in the realm of television commercials.