Tandem turns oral hygiene into a laughing matter

Mixing humor into a commercial while staying on message is a tricky proposition, but doing it while reminding viewers about oral hygiene sounds dang near impossible.

With smart direction, excellent casting and a brilliant script by Weber Shandwick, Chicago’s Tandem, Inc. pulled it off in a new spot for the American Academy of Periodontology.

A Model Mouth transforms a lesson about the indisputably non-hilarious subject of proper gum maintenance into a laughing matter that educates and entertains for nearly a minute and a half.

The commercial features a documentary style testimonial with a down-to-earth periodontist named Amanda Garvey and her patient, a self-absorbed professional mouth model named Carl Hasgood. Seated in the living room of a beautiful suburban home, the fictitious doctor and patient answer questions from an off-screen interviewer.

As Carl describes the importance of his career, the visuals cut to footage of him posing in front of a bathroom mirror and admiring a wall of his own portraits. Over a cheerful pizzicato soundtrack that plays throughout the conversation, topics like “daily mouth regimen” and “lip, teeth, gum ratio” flow naturally into the dialogue.

“I felt like it was an ode to Christopher Guest,” says director Tyler Jay, who wanted to shoot the spot as soon as he read the script. “You know, Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show.”

With the help of PR Casting — who he describes as “fantastic” — Jay found his actors during the first round of auditions.

Tandem, Inc. director and founder Tyler Jay“Melanie McCullough (Amanda) and Sam Nyhart (Carl) auditioned at the same time and they really hit the mark,” he says. “It might be only the first or second time I’ve had that happen in the initial casting session.”

When it came time for post-production, there was only one place to go.

“I knew Brian Sepanik at The Colonie would be the perfect editor for the spot,” says Jay. “He always does a great job, especially on our comedic work.”

Along with award-winning work for Grub Hub and McDonald’s, A Model Mouth increases a reputation for humor that Tandem, Inc. has built since being founded by Jay in 2014. But funny is just one trick in the boutique’s bag.

The shop has created serious moods for the likes of Outcome Health and Motorola, and it recently wrapped a four-day shoot for Northwesten University.


Agency: Weber Shandwick

EVP/Executive Creative Director — Jim Paul

Creative Director / Writer — Dan Jividen

ACD/Art Director — Alex Manosalvas

Senior Producer — Jason Passaniti

Production: Tandem, Inc.

Director — Tyler Jay

Line Producer — Becky Werve

DP — Andrew Dryer

Casting: Paskal Rudnicke Casting

Melanie McCullough, Amanda

Sam Nyhart, Carl

Post Production: The Colonie

Editor — Brian Sepanik

Assistant Editor — Nathan Rodgers

VFX Artist — Tom Dernulc

Motion Designer — Jennifer Moody

EP — Mary Caddy

Audio Mix: Particle Audio

Color: nolo Digital Film