Every year around this time, we are curious if one of our local Dallas agencies were fortunate enough to win the creative on a Super Bowl commercial. This year, H-E-B once again enlisted The Richards Group to tell their story about The Quest for Texas Best, a contest the brand launched to scour the state to find local businesses with the best products in Texas. We interviewed Chris Smith, Brand Creative Group Head for Richards, and Adam Henderson, editor at Post-Op, to find out how the spot was conceptualized, directed, edited and produced.
AdChat DFW: What was the goal around this year’s H-E-B Super Bowl spot?
Chris Smith: For years, H-E-B chose to do brand awareness ads for the Super Bowl, but they’ve shifted recently to do more promotional spots for specific contests or sweepstakes. This year they really wanted to promote The Quest for Texas Best, where they ask for submissions from all over Texas for people who have products but don’t have statewide distribution. Like a restaurant that sells its barbeque sauce or salsa, or a Mom-and-Pop shop that makes pastry or cookies. This spot is to announce the start of the contest and to ask for submissions for a product to be considered.
AdChat DFW: How did you come up with the concept?
Chris Smith: One of our HEB creative teams, Rachel Dawer, copywriter and Shelby Tamura, art director, came up with a fun poem/spoken word thing. As we talked about it we decided it would be great as a song.
AdChat DFW: How did you decide who would sing the song?
Chris Smith: H-E-B likes to use Texas artists and celebrities whenever they can. We used George Strait for the holidays, we’ve used Jack Ingram, Eva Longoria, and other artists with Texas roots. We knew about a Texas singer named Cowboy Troy who is a Hick-Hop artist. He’s in the opening of ESPN’s College Gameday with Big and Rich. So, I thought that Cowboy Troy would be perfect for this and, to our surprise, client ended up going for it.
AdChat DFW: Who wrote the music for the song and where did you record it?
Chris Smith: We wrote the song with Cowboy Troy and a music company out of LA called Wojahn, which is run by two brothers whom we’ve worked with many times. We recorded it with spectacular session musicians in Nashville. We knew we had one heck of a song. By the way, the recording session was one of the most fun things I’ve been involved with in my career.
AdChat DFW: How so?
Chris Smith: They were just fantastic musicians, it felt like they were magicians really. They go in and look at this Nashville style of music chart, it’s just numbers and vertical dashes on a page. There are no notes or staves like the usual sheet music, it’s completely different. They just huddle up, divide who plays what, go into the studio and it’s like they’ve been rehearsing it for months. It just comes out.
AdChat DFW: What was Cowboy Troy like to work with?
Chris Smith: Troy could not have been more fun to work with. He was enthusiastic, he was into it, showing up early and staying late, just all over it. He’s a terrific guy.
AdChat DFW: Who was the director?
Chris Smith: To shoot the video we hired a woman named Trey Fanjoy, based in Nashville, who has been nominated for about eighteen CMA awards and won quite a few. She’s shot videos for Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Alan Jackson, lots of huge names. She’s like THE country music video director, and she just shot the heck out of this spot.
AdChat DFW: Tell us about the shoot.
Chris Smith: It was a combination of concert performance of Cowboy Troy and a band on top of an H-E-B eighteen-wheeler out in the hill country, which was cool. Woven into that is the story of two H-E-B partners who are driving around Texas in a red pickup up truck tasting these products; like honey, super-hot salsa, goat cheese and things like that. In editorial, we intercut the partners with Cowboy Troy rocking out to tell the story. It’s ton of fun.
AdChat DFW: Who was the production company?
Chris Smith: The production company was Twenty2 Films.
AdChat DFW: What post-production company did you use?
Chris Smith: The post is being done here in town with Post-Op by an editor, Adam Henderson, who just recently won a contest to edit an Imagine Dragons video. They chose his edit from thousands of submissions. He’s edited for us before on Motel 6. I thought he may be just the guy to cut our music video. We shot so much footage, he had a ton to work with, but had only :60 to tell two different stories. We are really excited how it turned out.
AdChat DFW: Adam, tell us about the footage.
Adam Henderson: Luckily, they shot a lot more than I needed. As an editor you always cross your fingers about that before you start a project. You want to have enough to work with to craft what agency creatives have in their heads. The footage was beautifully shot and showed off all aspects of Texas. I was able to whittle it down and tweak it into the :60 spot it ended up being.
AdChat DFW: Who are the agency producers for the spot?
Chris Smith: The producer that handled the shoot and the pre-production was Gabriel Silva with Richards and the post-production is being handled by Kim Alexander, another agency producer.
AdChat DFW: H-E-B is a regional chain, where will the spot air?
Chris Smith: The :60 spot will air in all their major markets: San Antonio, Houston, Austin and the Rio Grande Valley and may get up as far north as Waco and Corsicana. I tell all my friends down there to watch for it.
AdChat DFW: Do you have a fun story about the production or shoot?
Chris Smith: One of the products we created for the shoot was a made-up brand of honey. So, we created a bee farm for our two HEB partners to visit, where we had about 40,000 live bees in this portable hive. We learned when we showed up on set that one of the actors was allergic to bees. But they were in the beekeeper suits, and we had plenty of epi-pens on hand, plus two expert apiarists to wrangle the bees. It all went great, the actors were real troupers, and nobody got stung.
Watch “All Across Texas”