Leffel’s Big Spoon dished up appetizing web pieces

A project that Craig Leffel’s Big Spoon Industries started in late September for Wunderman, the Chicago agency for the Outback Steakhouse of Tampa, Fla. culminated Jan. 2 with it serving free appetizers to Outback customers.

Whether the appetizer would be a Steakhouse Bloomin’ Onion or a Coconut Shrimp depended on the winner of the Outback Bowl NCAA football game played New Year’s Day between the SEC Tennessee Volunteers and Big Ten’s Northwestern Wildcats in Tampa.

Big Spoon produced 17 comedy pieces for s six week run on Outback’s website, leading up the Jan. 1 game. The 15-second pieces featured the rivalry between the two personified appetizers: “Bloomin’ Onion,” representing the Tennessee Volunteers and “Shrimp Girl.” the Northwestern Wildcats.

Viewers voted for their favorite character comedy bit, which automatically entered them in a free ticket giveaway. Since Tennessee won the game, Steakhouse customers the next day who mentioned “Outback Bowl” to their servers were rewarded with a complimentary Bloomin’ Onion appetizer.

Outback Steakhouse's Bloomin' Onion appetizer personifiedWunderman’s creative director Greg Auer and his team started out with some 10 ideas and a script outline.  “What we delivered was almost double that,” says Leffel, EP on the project.

“More important was our being able to show the Outback client that we were conscious of this being a first-time decision to promote their sponsorship on a worthwhile, but lean budget.”

The two-day shoot took place in Outback Worldwide HQ offices in Tampa.  Leffel brought director Jack Newell, DP Matt Gonzales and actress Megan Movde from Chicago and in Tampa hired the line producer, gaffer, art department –- all of whom had had some past Chicago connection –- and a lot PAs.

Since the crew was considerably larger than the client anticipated, Leffel flipped the shoot from daytime to after business hours. 

“We started prepping at three p.m. and began shooting at five, until two or three o’clock in the morning,” he says Leffel. “It turned out to be a wonderful experience.  We rolled up our sleeves and tried different improv approaches, all of them a lot of fun.”

In Chicago, Mark Jepsen of Makaitaka in Glen Ellyn handled the editing, visual effects, compositing and finishing. Leffel was the colorist.

Leffel’s Big Spoon Industries is a virtual collective of professionals who produce content from start-to-finish, complete turnkey or ala carte services, such as editorial and color correction. He started his company after spending 18 years at Optimus as a partner and director of production for One at Optimus.

Wunderman credits: ECD, Greg Auer; senior A/D, Laurent Varlet;  A/D, Mark Gettner;  copywriter, Patrick Knoll and associate producer, Kelsey Barrentine.

Contact Leffel at 312/285-0818; email craig@bigspoon industries.com.