We’ve seen writers and art directors pitch themselves to agencies in all sorts of creative ways over the years. But dare we say, this might be our favorite yet.
Chase Zreet, a copywriter at Firehouse in Dallas, really wanted to work on the Sprite account at Wieden + Kennedy New York. So, to pitch his services, he did the obvious thing—he sent a cover letter. Less obvious: It came in the form of an insanely creative and entertaining three-minute rap about his obsession with the lemon-lime beverage and his own potential for making great ads for it.
The video was directed by Dallas-based Jeremy Bartel of charlieuniformtango. Visually, it’s a delight, with Zreet seen floating around town (thanks to a hoverboard) in, alternately, a green jacket with a lemon on a gold chain around his neck and a yellow jacket with a lime around his neck.
The lyrics, too, brilliantly dig into the nerdery of the ad biz.
W+K was blown away by the video, and ended up hiring Zreet (how could they not?), who starts in April.
“There’s too much emphasis put on portfolios, and not enough on the creative enthusiasm of a candidate,” W+K NY creative director Jimm Lasser tells AdFreak. “We like it when candidates want to be at W+K for a variety of reasons, even beyond our work. All the better when they use their unique talents to demonstrate this. Chase made a great ad about himself. He persuaded us to invest in him. He won us over.”
Of the video itself, Lasser added: “The way he could float and rap at the same time was impressive. He also demonstrated a mastery of the Sprite brand’s color palette. I think he should re-release a subtitles version. That would be my first assignment to him.”
There’s no official word on what Sprite thought of Chase’s efforts, although one commenter under the Vimeo video claimed to work at Coke’s Atlanta headquarters—and said everyone there loved it.
We emailed with Zreet to learn where the idea came from, what director Bartel brought to the project (a lot), and which line of lyrics he likes best.
AdFreak: Why did you decide to do a video, and did you consider other creative ways to approach this?
Chase Zreet: The idea for the video came when a friend of mine/former W+K account team member/current copywriter at Mekanism Chicago (thank you, Cory McCollum) suggested that I try to put something together for the Sprite team at W+K NYC because I’m a big fan of Vince Staples.
In the weeks following, the idea for the rap came and was just one of those things that wouldn’t shut up, and I thought that making a video would have a better chance of landing. After mulling it over for a bit, I wrote the thing in a couple days. Once it was written, the recording was done within a week and I had a shoot date not long after that.
So, there really wasn’t ever a plan B. From the very beginning, this was a one-shot deal. Which, in retrospect, was probably the main reason it got made, as I didn’t have time to think about it for long enough to second-guess it.
Can you describe the lyrics? How long did it take to write, and how many drafts did you go through? Any favorite lines?
The overall concept, tone and flow was something I spent a long time fretting over. I knew I had to make something that wasn’t corny or cringe-inducing, and that was a hard thing to try to crack when your subject matter is writing advertising. I tried a few voices, and this graciously arrogant persona that’s coming through in the video (at least that was the attempt) ended up feeling the best. And once I decided on that, I sort of just wrote about writing using words that character would say.
Once I had that figured out, the actual writing of the thing took a lot less time than I thought it would. The draft I had after day two of writing is pretty close to what you see in the video. The signoff (“The Don Juan…” etc.) was originally a lot more modest and pleading, but when I went to record it felt a little anticlimactic and sappy rather than something this boisterous, self-aggrandizing character would say. So, I had the producer play the beat on a loop while I was in the booth and spent a couple minutes throwing that together instead.
As far as favorite bars go, “I move the most SKUs call me barcodes” gave me one of those “This is so dumb that I hate myself for not hating it” moments, which I guess is the best win a writer can ask for.
What did director Jeremy Bartel bring to this? Did he bring the visual ideas to you, or was it a collaboration?
Jeremy Bartel is a gift from the gods. He single-handedly turned this thing from sort of OK to the kind of thing capable of getting the attention that it has.
Outside of being a wizard with the camera, he helped dramatically with establishing consistency and attainability. I originally brought him a bunch of shot ideas that I thought were funny but were conceptually all over the place and didn’t have a whole lot tying them together visually beyond me wearing a green suit in all of them. The hoverboard technique that was used in the video was buried in one of those ideas. He sat with it for a night and came back with the hoverboard scene and said, “This is it. This is the whole video.” He also had the idea of adding the yellow suit and shooting everything twice and just cutting back and forth in edit. He also got me, a first-time actor, to not look (I hope) like a complete turd in front of camera. And he handled the pool shots (which we obviously had to nail in one take) like the pro that he is.
Point being, it was absolutely a collaboration. I couldn’t have done this thing on this level without him. If anyone ever gets the chance to work with him, they should know that they’re getting a damn fine director with an even better brain.
While I’m shouting people out, Jamal Prowell is a fantastic designer/AD who did a killer job helping me put the logo and grill scene together, and Jessica Schmidt was the best wardrobe stylist anyone could ever ask for.
Obviously W+K must have loved it, since they hired you. What did they tell you when you first connected with them?
They said the most flattering they could possibly say: “This is definitely the best original rap track about Sprite/biography of an aspiring copywriter from Texas that we’ve ever received. And we’ve received a ton.”
Did you start at W+K yet? Are you on the Sprite team, and have you written anything for the brand yet?
I start my new job at W+K in April. So as of now, I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be working on. But I’ll keep you posted. I’m just excited to be heading to NYC to work there.