By Brandon Buck
Happy Wax, the leading manufacturer of wax warmers and scented wax melts, had already achieved great success with marketing its products on social networks, but it needed to expand its audience reach. The North Carolina-based company had a goal of reducing dependency on Facebook advertising and increasing national brand awareness through top-of-funnel activities, so it asked The Pollack Group to develop a broadcast advertising campaign. Specifically, it wanted the creative spot to highlight its unique points of differentiation; Happy Wax is a flame-free, trouble-free way to set your mood free. Users can select from a wide variety of scented wax melts, and we wanted to showcase that in :30 and :15 television spots.
The agency began by developing six unique campaign concepts focused on various wax melt scents and how they “set your mood free” by helping you relax or providing a burst of invigorating energy. Based on the popularity of crowd-pleasing scents like lavender and bergamot, and our goal of targeting a specific audience, we merged two concepts. Our spot features a mom of two kids walking through the front door into a den of chaos. To escape her crazy home life, she uses Happy Wax — flame-free and trouble-free — to immediately feel the calming effects of surrounding yourself in a wonderful fragrance. Our Digital Practice Lead, Brandon Buck, directed the production and proposed experimenting with various light sources that would change color to match the wax melt scents. With that, we wrote up a budget estimate, and quickly began scouting filming locations in Los Angeles and casting actors online.
Our commercial needed to take place ‘at home’ and we scouted soundstages and houses for rent. While entertainment productions largely shut down in 2020 due to the global pandemic, it was very much on the upswing when we began scouting — a great sign for the industry, but it was difficult even to book a time to tour the venues. Renting a house via Peerspace was more cost-efficient and inventory was plentiful. We looked at several different homes with decor and styles ranging from modern to coastal rustic. We found our perfect house in North Hollywood in a quiet neighborhood. It had an open kitchen and living room floor plan; bright, white walls (important for the color changes); and plenty of space directly outside the windows — an extremely important consideration for our shoot. We needed to cover the windows to block outdoor sunlight in order to have complete control of the light change. In fact, all the “sunlight” seen through the windows in the first part of the commercial is completely synthetic.
The Director of Photography and Director storyboarded the shoot over Zoom, using Cine Tracer to create a virtual recreation of the selected living room. This way, every shot was mapped out clearly, making it easier for the client to view and approve, and the crew would have a clear order of operations for the day of production.
Being mindful of our total production budget as well as COVID-19 safety protocols, we hired a crew of 10 people and the shoot lasted just over 12 hours. We filmed three versions of the commercial simultaneously for three different Happy Wax fragrances: Calming Lavender, Lemon Verbena, and Autumn Breeze. After each successful take of one color composition, the same action and lighting queue had to happen two more times.
Post-production utilized Adobe After Effects to track the camera motions, isolate layer elements to smooth the product bag, and composite the graphic designs in a 3D environment with artificial camera lens blur and motion blur.
In total, we delivered six assets for the campaign; two :30 and :15 broadcast commercial spots for each of the three colors, optimized for the over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms for the ads to be served. Here is one version of the final commercial: