In April, North Carolina agency McKinney registered its disapproval of House Bill 2, the law requiring all residents to use public restrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate, by showing the world where it belongs—on a very large role of toilet paper.
The controversial law has made national headlines as Gov. Pat McCrory defends himself against the Obama administration and LGBT advocacy groups. McKinney's latest effort opposing HB2 is far more ambitious than the last. It involves a fake '90s boy band, a reunion show and a few guys in their 30s who seem just a little behind the times.
The project centers on a 12-minute film created by McKinney and New York-based production companies XY Content and Storefront Music. It documents the fictional band One More Wish's attempt to fill the void left by all the more famous musicians that canceled shows in North Carolina to protest the law.
The film is less about criticizing HB2 than portraying the supposed former pop stars as dads, professionals and clueless but hopeful comeback kids.
"Boycott Band" includes some nostalgia for the days of the Discman and MTV's Total Request Live, but its tone trends toward the melancholy as it tracks a group of men who've had a bit of trouble finding their way in the post-fame world.
It's a pro bono project created to support the advocacy group Equality NC, which has called on McCrory to repeal the law and apologize to the state's LGBT community.
The inspiration for the project came from the headlines that resulted when musical acts like Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and Maroon 5 started announcing their boycotts.
"My partner and I were kicking around the idea of a boycott band," said McKinney creative director Will Chambliss. "The idea was to create something that shines a spotlight on the absurd effect the bill has had on North Carolina, so we ran with the concept—create a band that's really horrible in such an endearing way that people would want to see a short film about their comeback."
Speaking for One More Wish, Chambliss said, "They are doing everybody a favor by filling this entertainment void … by actually playing when no one else will."
This despite the fact that no one requested a One More Wish reunion in the first place, and for good reason. The band wasn't looking to stir up controversy, though. Chambliss said they simply wanted to "stand on the sidelines and let the politics of it play out." He added, "The end story is: Let's go vote this fall to make sure this doesn't happen again."
The key reference point for this campaign may be 1984's satirical linchpin This Is Spinal Tap. For example, here is "Hit Me," a "smash hit" that sounds every bit like it could have been released in 1998:
After developing the idea, the agency connected with XY Content and director Habib Yazdi, who attended the University of North Carolina.
"We've been hosting some screenings in Brooklyn," Yazdi said, adding, "We found that the film plays well to audiences in a theater-screening setting. Once they are watching the film, they get into the characters, whereas online it might be tougher for them to have the same time span."
Head of business development Chau Mui told Adweek, "It's not just about repealing [HB2], because many people don't understand what it is. It's becoming a national issue. … Legalized discrimination is not fair and not right."
The Storefront Music team wrote and performed most of One More Wish's original, supposedly classic tunes. Other elements of the work include a multimedia homepage, a series of ringtones and several more cringeworthy additions to the One More Wish canon.
McKinney has submitted the work to Sundance and other film festivals in hopes that viewers will be interested and North Carolina will see the error of its ways.
Client: Equality NC
Campaign: Boycott Band
Chief Creative Officer: Jonathan Cude
Group Creative Director / Art Director: Owen Tingle
Group Creative Director / Copywriter: Will Chambliss
Copywriter: David McClay
Senior Account Planner: Kevin Murray
Producer: Regina Brizzolara
Producer: Chau Mui
Producer: Frank Sun
Associate Producer: Neil Cox
Associate Producer: Lauren March
Production Manager: Sarah Williams
Production Company: XY Content
Director: Habib Yazdi
Director of Photography: Isaac Banks
Senior Producer, Print Production: Carolyn Petty
Editor: Nick Adcock
Assistant Editor: Erin Gurdziel
Retouchers: Erin Campbell, Chelsie Irby
Color: Company 3
Colorist: Jaime O'Bradovich
Color Post Producer: Katie Andrews
Sound Design: One Thousand Birds, Andrew Tracy
Audio Post Producer: Laura Dopp
Music Supervision: Wool & Tusk, Aaron Mercer
Original Music: Storefront Music
Executive Music Producers: Adam Elk, John "Scrapper" Sneider
Music Producer: Alex Fulton
Composers: Adam Elk, Christian Almiron, Darien Shumna, James Beer