Quriosity Productions spent days preparing to shoot Purina’s Big Moments campaign for St. Louis agency CheckMark Communications. But when the cameras started rolling, it all came down to a girl and a dog who had known each other less than two days.
“Purina wanted real moments of kids,” explains Quriosity founder and executive producer Qadree Holmes. “They love genuine honesty.”
The spot aired Easter Sunday during the Beverly Hills Dog Show on the USA Network.
It starts with a smiling, red-haired girl sitting next to a Golden Retriever puppy lying on a kitchen floor. She holds a cup of dog food. The puppy stares at it. The screen cuts to a full frame red background. White type alongside Purina’s logo in the center of the screen reads, “Every source checked.”
To set the stage, Quriosity tapped Andrea Mandel, a photographer and director on the company roster who Holmes says “is known for her photography and directorial work with kids.”
Holmes met Mandel at a Walgreen’s print job where she was hired to photograph kids, babies and toddlers about five years ago. Since then, they have completed similar campaigns for the likes of Huggies and Pampers. She was a natural fit for the job.
“Andrea Mandel has worked with Purina for quite some time now,” he explains. “She’s dealt with hundreds, probably thousands, of kids during her career.”
Mandel got to work early by lending her expertise to the two-day audition process.
“The casting was huge,” she says. “We had this animal handler bring a couple of different dogs on each day. We had the kids walk the dog, feed the dog and do tricks like sit and shake. We’d ask ‘do you like dogs?’”
A four-year-old girl’s sparkling personality helped win the role to work with the puppy.
“She was so cute,” remembers Mandel, “talking about how she doesn’t have dogs but she has cats one gets jealous so she puts extra food into the other one’s bowl.”
The introduction to Big Moments establishes a pattern that runs throughout the 15-second spot. It proceeds to include footage of the girl pouring dog food on the floor, the puppy shimmying under her leg, titles describing Purina’s wholesomeness and the hashtag “#letslivebig.”
The commercial was shot on location in a suburban LA home over half a day. Mandel employed a variety of methods to keep her focused on the set.
“It can be overwhelming,” she says. “My technique is to be loose and upbeat so they do not feel nervous.”
Quriosity recorded audio during the shoot as well. According to Mandel, it not only helped capture the magic with “lots of silly moments and giggles,” but also reinforced the reason she “felt so lucky to collaborate with the creative team from CheckMark and Purina.”
“From the very first call we were aligned on the creative vision,” she says. “Everything fell into place seamlessly!”
Spontaneous exclamations from Purina representatives on the set let Mandel know that things were going well.
“There were a ton of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ that were happening as Andrea was working,” remembers Holmes.
They helped create the believable image of joy that concludes Big Moments.
Director of Marketing | PURINA Brand – Daniel Henke-Cilenti
Brand Manager | PURINA Brand – Jason Dolan
Associate Creative Director – Nancy Jane Rifkin
Associate Creative Director – Sarah Zelle
Account Executive – Amy Schiller Brown
Account Coordinator – Alyssa Wittmaier
Content Design Director – Doug Wick
Senior Digital Designer – Misty Manley
Agency Producer – Mary Kate van den Berg
Director / Photographer – Andrea Mandel
Executive Producer – Qadree Holmes
Line Producer-Marsie Wallach
Director of Photography – Chris Rejano
Representation: Motion/Video – Jenny Lumpkin | Quriosity Productions
Representation: Print – Carolyn Somlo | Somlo Talent