Comic Key stars in Burrell-Toyota TV & digital spots

Comic actor Michael Keegan-Key

Burrell Communications’ put the introduction of client Toyota’s 2016 RAV4 Hybrid car on a comedy track with a now airing  10-spot campaign starring actor/comedian Keegan-Michael Key, filmed in LA and finished in Chicago.  

LA-based TV and film luminaries, director Tucker Gates (“Donovan,” “Lost,” “House of Cards) of Independent Media and DP Mauro Fiore (“Avatar,” “Southpaw”) shot the integrated 10-spot parody campaign, on the Cal State campus in Los Angeles in mid-November.  

The Colonie’s creative editor/partner Bob Ackerman and assistant editor Graham Chapman were on location and began editing the performances during the shoot.  Music, post, effects and finish were handled completely in Chicago.

Actor Key (“The Lego Movie,” “Key and Peele”) (a Detroit native, incidentally) plays Ravelle Forman (a play on RAV4) slightly unhinged driving school instructor at a driving school.  The 30-second broadcast spot, “Why Wouldn’t Ya,” sets the theme.

Ravelle teaches his students about the vehicle, parked outside, a new generation of high-performance hybrids, as he tries to change their perception of the crossover.

Toyota's 2016 RAV4 Hybrid

“Keegan-Michael Key is such a natural, spontaneous comedic performer that it was no surprise he delivered an abundance of golden moments to pick from, which made the editing of this campaign a joy,” says Ackerman.

Key co-wrote the spots with Burrell’s Elyse Simpson and Derrick Harmon. Gates encouraged Key and the supporting cast to improvise and play with material, giving the pieces an uncontrived, from-the-hip feel.  

The team took advantage of the web spots’longer format to give Key time to play out new directions and interactions between his character and the pupils. 

Through Toyota’s agency arrangement, the campaigns are developed at the start with everyone in the room. “The volume of spots and videos in this campaign required particularly close collaboration with the agency,” says Ackerman.

“We’ve worked with Burrell on numerous projects over the years, and always find that having EVP/Chief Creative Officer Lewis Williams and his team in the room sparks new ideas.  This project was no exception.” 

The 30-second online spots are Hybrid Learning,” “Acceleration,” “Cost Saving,” “Maintenance.”

The 15-second spots, “Dodge Ball,” “High-Price” and “Teachers’ Lounge,” will live on Toyota Facebook page.

Burrell Communications credits: EVP/CCO, Lewis Williams; CD, Lisa McConell; writers, Richard Talarico, Michael-Keegan Key; A/D, Derrick Harmon; EP, Shirley Portee; producers Craig Wagner and Carlo Treviso.

The Colonie credits: Creative editor, Bob Ackerman; assistant editors, Graham Chapman and Ben Pokorny; finishing Tom Dernulc; EP, Mary Caddy. VFX artist, Tom Dernulc; assistant, Ben Pokorny.

Finishing: Michael Matusek, Nolo Digital. Audio and sound design, Particle Audio, engineer, Katy Mindeman; assistant Jordan Stalling; EP Laura Feeney. Music, Comma, composer, Josh Good; CD, Larry Pecorella; managing director/EP, Bonny Dolan.