Escape Pod’s Lunchables cinema spot rates four stars

Scene from ‘Treetop Standoff’ spot

Guess we can add food critic to adman Vinny Warren’s list of accomplishments now.  He has just put the finishing touches on a spectacular new in-cinema commercial for Oscar Mayer Lunchables.

It is the type of project that many in the Chicago ad world could only hope to have a chance to work on during the course of their careers.

This new cinema spot from Warren and The Escape Pod/Chicago is called “Treehouse Standoff.” And it is a 90-second wide-screen adventure epic in the very best way.

The spot was designed to promote a “Never Be Bored Again” contest that Warren and his Escape Pod team came up with and took to the Lunchables team at Oscar Mayer.  The Lunchables folk bought it, and Warren was cleared to film what has now become “Treehouse Standoff.”

The new spot immediately plunges viewers into the middle of a dramatic battle between a group of kids brandishing their nerf machine guns.  We are right there in thick of the action with these kids whose heroic derring-do is accentuated by deft camera work and a hugely energetic, full-blown original score from Lorne Balfe, who also composed the score for the original “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

The “Treehouse Standoff” battle ends with one of the kids perched in what is, to say the least, an extraordinarily elaborate treehouse.  When of the boy’s friends asks him how he came to have this elaborate palace set amidst the limbs of a giant tree, the kid tells her he won it in the Lunchables “Never Be Bored Again” sweepstakes. Indeed, a very elaborate treehouse is one of the top prizes in the contest that has just gotten underway.

And speaking of the treehouse that figures so prominently in the denouement of “Treehouse Standoff,” it is no optical illusion. It is the real deal, constructed by Dan Wright of Treetop Builders of West Chester, Pa.

Local post companies finished the spot

“Treehouse Standoff” is three times longer than a standard-issue television commercial, but Warren and his crack production team managed to complete shooting in the woods of Ventura County in California in a mere two days rather than three days typically allotted for most 30-second spots.

Though principal photography and casting were done on the west coast, Warren turned to some of his favorite Chicago companies for post production work that helped transform the raw film into a slick, cinema-worthy finished product.

Mike Coletta of Red Car/Chicago did a masterful job editing the spot.  Vagabond Audio handled sound design.  And color work was handled by Mike Matusek of Nolo Digital Film/Chicago, according to Warren.

Contact Lewis Lazare at