Grab Life By the Horns: Dodge Films a Commercial at My House

“What I really want to do is direct.” — the Signboard in L.A. Story.

Just like the Signboard in the movie LA Story, homes in Los Angeles also dream of being on television or in the movies. On Friday, March 7, 2008, my home lived this fantasy when part of a commercial for the 2009 Dodge Journey was filmed in my driveway and the street on which my house is located.

The shooting itself took approximately 4 hours — beginning at 7 a.m. and continuing until roughly 11 a.m. The 40 to 50 person  crew was exceptionally efficient and respectful. Had I woken up at noon I would have never even known a commercial had been filmed in front of my home!

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Overall it was a positive experience for me and is one I would gladly repeat if asked again to have a commercial filmed at my home. Aside from the uniqueness of the experience (not to mention the $1,500 check the production company gave me), I was appreciate that this event gives me something to discuss in my marketing classes.

The location scout obtained some items that were used to develop the commercial including stroryboards, photos of the car, and even an azimuth bearing chart showing the projected location of the sun on the day of the filming! I will integrate these into my courses as they offer a “real world” framework to help my students better understand the world of advertising.

The commercial was part of Chrysler’s new “If you can dream it, do it” ad campaign which launched on Tuesday, April 8, 2008. One of the largest digital launch strategies in Chrysler LLC history, the campaign showcases the 2009 Dodge Journey’s unique combination of innovative features, versatility and flexibility all available at a great value that can help turn dreams into reality.

The television part of the campaign debuted two general market television ads and two multicultural spots: one targeted at African-Americans and the other for Hispanics. The African-American spots will air on BET, the NBA Playoffs, “Girlfriends” and “Everybody Hates Chris.” Hispanic ads will appear on Telemundo, Univision and Galavision.

The general market spots feature the world’s longest water slide, animated people, a man climbing the ladder of success, and a woman who meets her ideal man after winning over his dog. A third general market spot stars members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.

One of these spots, “Shaft,” which targets the African American market, was what was filmed (in part) at my Santa Clarita, CA home. Perhaps an unintentional reference to the “Shaft” movies — ironic, given the target audience of the commercial — the title references the main character “moving up” in life (as if in an elevator shaft), a concept illustrated during the transitions between the three parts of the commercial.

The 30-second spot opens on a man, dressed casually, walking up to his new Dodge Journey parked in front of his modest apartment. As he gets in, the viewer sees the Journey’s interior space and features like Flip ‘n Stow in-seat storage.

As he drives through his neighborhood, the viewer sees the middle part of the frame lift up and doors appear, closing like an elevator until the next scene. The viewer then sees the same driver dressed a bit more professionally, leaving his nicer downtown condo. As before, the middle part of the frame lifts up and doors appear, again closing like an elevator.

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In the next scene, the man is driving through a more suburban neighborhood where he pulls up in front of his house. The voiceover says, “The higher you go, the sweeter the journey. Introducing the new crossover that’s ready for anything.” My home is in the very last shot of the ad — the car is parked in my driveway!

The full ad is viewable below via YouTube; you only see the driveway and garage door of my home where the car is parked during the closing seconds of the commercial:

And remember: if you can dream it, do it!