Sandro helps Jewel Osco keep it “Local”

"Local" showcases Chicagoans in a rich color palette

“Local” showcases Chicago

The main commercial for Jewel Osco’s new Local campaign features a series of yearbook style customer close-ups that transform into a lively celebration of Chicago on a sunny afternoon. It’s a minute-long day in the life of a store that’s been part of the Windy City for a hundred years.

“The spot is really portraits of the different types of people who live in Chicago,” explains director Sandro Miller, who shot most of the footage in and around Jewel’s West Loop store on DesPlaines Ave. “We all eat together. We all cook together. We love to eat and share with our neighbors.”

By doing without tiresome details of groceries and prescription drugs, the story has time to focus on the communities that thrive around individual stores. As the narrator describes, “what brings us together” and “pride in where we come from,” the visuals help confirm that, “around here, being local is a pretty big deal.”



Chicago freelance team Mary Beth Adduci, Karin Rose, and Parry Metz created the concept with Ivie & Associates, a global marketing firm headquartered in Dallas that handles work for Albertson’s, Jewel Osco’s parent company since 2013. Their recent efforts with Sandro include a 2016 campaign for the American Cancer Society.

“They understood how I work with people,” says Sandro, a survivor himself. “I feel empathy. I’ve virtually felt every single emotion out there. I’ve been there.”

Utopic handled editing and post, but the company’s contribution began during pre-production.

"Loocal" focuses on the communities that thrive around individual stores.
“Loocal” focuses on the communities that thrive around individual stores.

“We saw the boards and saw it was focused so heavily on portraits,” explains Executive Producer Heather Mitchell. “I thought Sandro would be a great person to shoot with.”

The emphasis on regional tradition reminded her and Editor Kat Pryor of Southern Comfort’s The Spirit of New Orleans, a spot with a huge cast and a Big Easy vibe that Sandro filmed and Utopic edited earlier this year.

“As they were shooting the vignettes, Sandro would pull people aside and get their portraits,” says Pryor. “Editorially, it really was just finding the special moments within each vignette and scenario.”

In keeping with the theme, the team also made sure to include Chicagocentric elements such as a goat that, evidently, no longer wields a curse, and a pair of curbside parking spots reserved with lawn furniture.

Throughout the spot, Sandro’s knack for capturing genuine emotion is bathed in a rich color palette. The portraits are intense yet cozy; the group shots, entirely natural.

Most of the cast members are true Chicagoans. Whether a single shopper in the produce aisle or a couple friends on a front stoop, the combination of actors and non-actors who light up the screen reflects the creators’ dedication to authenticity.

Sandro with goat
Sandro with goat

“We wanted people from this city,” says Sandro. “The skateboarder is one of Chicago’s top skateboarders. The band is a real band. The casting house Planet Earth helped find a lot of them. Makes a little bit harder to direct, but you get something that is more authentic.”

He also “helped Jewel tap into the 30-something demographic” by working with “a few of these cool-looking people.”

“We shot quite a few hipsters,” he continues. “Bicycle messengers, they eat too. They go to Jewel.”

Decades ago, the local Jewel Osco in Elgin, IL, would have included Sandro himself among the future hipsters perusing the aisles. Not only was it the store where his single mother sent him “to get whatever was needed to make dinner,” but it also became the location where the “defining moment” of his life took place.

“They just happened to have a magazine rack that was a magnet to me,” he recalls. “One day I picked up American Photography and saw photos by Irving Penn. I decided this is what I want to do with my whole life, to have moments with people and record and share them with the whole world.”

Sandro recounted this experience in his treatment, which included a self-portrait taken in front of that very same store. He shot it after buying food to cook for his 88 year-old Aunt Zia, an “inseparable” companion of his mother.