Actor-writer Zach Woods delivers some quick-witted reminders on why you should never settle, making his commercial directing debut with a pair of smartly imagined vignettes for Quill.com.
Created by Denver-based agency Fear Not and premiered by AdWeek, the :45 spots amp up the levity by turning a little aggravation on its head. Playful and peppery, “Listen” recants one woman’s experience after using a coupon to book a session with an infuriatingly perplexing massage therapist. Putting a fine point on the dangers of settling, the delightfully silly interplay between the actors highlights the value of having service representatives that actually listen to you.
“Coupon” is a story about the deceptive fine print, wherein a shady photographer specifies that a voucher for a free family portrait is actually valid only for a snap of a single family member. As three-fourths of the unit are dismissed in various ways, the point is driven home: there’s nothing misleading about the legitimate coupons offered daily via Quill.com.
Zach Woods is already familiar with the world of office supplies, known for his portrayal of Gabe on The Office, among dozens of other film and TV credits (Silicon Valley, Avenue 5, Veep, The Good Wife.) Woods says he was deep into his two-decades long career when he realized his interest in directing. Embracing his new passion behind the camera, Woods has served as co-writer and director of shorts featuring big-name actors like Will Ferrell and Michael Peña.
The experience working with Denver-based agency Fear Not and Founder/Chief Creative Officer Blake Ebel (who also wrote the spots) made for a seamless advertising debut. Knowing how best to create an environment of focused relaxation on set, combined with a rich improv background forged via the Upright Citizens Brigade, Woods made the actors feel safe enough to experiment and adlib within the scenes when called to it.
“I love how you get a chance to build your ‘tribe’ anytime you step on a set,” says Woods. “The cast was so funny and inventive, all wonderful improvisers. I love working with actors who feel human, warm, and strange. I like mining folks for their beautiful specificity, as I think the unplanned moments are usually the most alive.”
“We were on the same page from day one, so I trusted Zach completely regarding the types of characters we wanted to put in play,” remarks Ebel. “Not only are his sense of humor and comedic sensibilities fantastic, but Zach is an incredibly collaborative and kind person, which made for a great experience all around.”
“In the world of office products, customers tend to shop the same brands and remain somewhat loyal out of habit, often settling for mediocre service and confusing offers and deals,” explains Sergio Pereira, President of Quill.com. “The spots developed by Fear Not and directed by Zach put a lens on the pain points for which customers should not settle, and do so with humor and levity that are sure to engage the viewer, causing them to re-think where to best shop for their workplace.”
Pereira continues, “Zach directed these spots with a clear understanding of the creative direction, but also listening to the client’s strategic intent. The result is a collection of spots of different lengths that deliver entertainment and a clear brand message that we expect will increase the brand consideration and market share.”