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U.S. Bank's New Ads Imagine the Future, Thanks to Some Clever Visual Tricks


U.S. Bank's new campaign from Carmichael Lynch leaves a lot to the imagination.

For example, in "New House," a young couple tour their dream home ... which hasn't been built yet. Most of the story takes place in an expansive field. At one point, when the woman "hangs up" her jacket, it simply floats, completely unsupported, since there aren't any hooks to hold it—or even walls. Later, when she and her partner check out the second level, they appear to be walking on air: There are no stairs to climb or floors to stand on. 

Every interaction in the house takes place in their imaginations until the final seconds, when the dwelling materializes around them. "The difference between possible and impossible," the voiceover says, is "a person who believes they can—surrounded and supported by others, by us, who believe it too." 

The campaign breaks today and introduces the tagline "The Power of Possible."

A second commercial, "Restaurant," follows two business partners exploring a dusty, dilapidated industrial space, dreaming of what might be one day. An oily covering for battered machinery becomes a tablecloth, conforming to the shape of an invisible table. When one partner pantomimes lighting a candle, a bright flame flickers before her eyes. Later, as she "cooks," fire flares from an imaginary skillet.

At the end, the place transforms into a hot spot, packed with patrons savoring their meals.

The work conveys U.S. Bank's willingness "to support people early on, when they're wondering and planning and hoping to do something," Marty Senn, CL's chief creative officer, tells AdFreak. "You're usually there—doing business with a bank—because of something that's very personal and important to you, but a lot of that's missing from work in the category." 

Naturally, the unusual creative approach presented some challenges.

"It was really important to us, and to [MJZ director] Nicolai Fuglsig, that it never felt like a dance or mime," Senn says. Rather, the audience had to believe that "these people were really moving through their ideal spaces—but we, as viewers, just couldn't see it yet."

To achieve that effect, the scenes were shot in actual house and restaurant sets, giving the actors physical objects for interaction. Later, those objects—doorknobs, stairs, wall-hooks, candles, skillets—were painstakingly removed, and the footage synced up with the outdoor and industrial-space environments.

This was done because pure pantomime is much tougher than it looks. For example, when actors pretend to reach for doorknobs, "they dip down rather than keeping it on a level plane," says Senn.

For the client, green-lighting such novel ads "was definitely a leap of faith, but one they wanted and were asking to make," Senn adds. "They were as excited as we were to be looking at scripts that didn't feel like bank scripts." 

Ultimately, the finished product is quite compelling, and it might just inspire viewers to connect with U.S. Bank and explore some possibilities in their own lives.

Client: U.S. Bank
Agency: Carmichael Lynch
Chief Creative Officer: Marty Senn
Associate Creative Director: Puja Shah
Senior Writer: Ryan Falch
Head of Production: Joe Grundhoefer
Executive Content Producer: Freddie Richards
Director of Business Affairs: Vicki Oachs
Managing Director: Kim Bock
Account Director: Sarah Larsen
Account Supervisor: Mackenzie Kauffman
Senior Project Manager: Shannon Gabrick

Production Company: MJZ
Director: Nicolai Fuglsig
President: David Zander
Executive Producer: Emma Wilcockson
Producer: Karen O'Brien
Director of Photography: Hoyte Van Hoytema
Production Designer: Christopher Glass

Edit House: Rock Paper Scissors NY
Editor: Mikkel EG Nielsen
Assistant Editor: Alex Liu
Executive Producer: Eve Kornblum
Producer: Lisa Barnable

VFX House: Method
Executive Producer: Stephanie Gilgar
Producer: Julie Osborn
VFX Supervisor: Olivier Dumont
CG Supervisor: Pouyan Navid
Comp Superviser: Brian Delmonico

Telecine: CO3
Audio Mix: SisterBoss
Sound Design: Robot Repair/ SisterBoss

Music Company: Robot Repair

Voiceover Talent: Reid Scott (Announcer)

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