new spots focus on seniors having fun.

LOS ANGELES—A Common Thread’s Brendan
Williams has directed a new campaign for Rite Aid that presents beautifully-crafted
portraits of seniors who are healthy and having fun. Three new spots, conceived
by Marc USA, promote Rite Aid’s newly-launched Wellness 65+, a
first-of-its-kind customer loyalty program for seniors.

Swimmer opens on a
remarkably fit, 67-year-old-man who is about to dive into a swimming pool. As
the voice-over says, “Every now and then, you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘How did
I get here?’” the man is seen having his blood pressure checked by a Rite Aid
pharmacist. The other two spots, Water
and Scrambler, feature a
woman engaged in a playful backyard water fight with her grandson, and a woman
riding an amusement park ride with her granddaughter. Each includes a message
about partnering with Rite Aid to stay healthy.
Williams gave each spot the feel of a treasured memory
through a unique in-camera effect that created the illusion of freezing time.
The effect involved a custom rig that allowed a camera (in this instance a
Phantom Miro shooting at a high frame rate) to travel 60 feet in one second.
The end result is a smooth pull-back with time appearing to come to a halt.
“It worked beautifully and the shots are very easy on the
eye,” Williams notes. “It wasn’t possible to use the rig setup in each location
but, we achieved the same effect by using sliders (mini dolly tracks), a wider
lens and a rope and pulley system. A very strong grip ripped the camera back
until it hit a cushioned stop zone. Worked a treat!’
“I love adding something special to every job,” adds
Williams. “It’s a privilege to invade people’s living rooms, so we must
entertain them.”

Williams was careful to cast actors who looked healthy but
weren’t overly hip. The performances he elicited from them are warm, sincere
and believable. “My approach to working with actors involves a minimum of
conversation,” he explains. “Some directors spend ten minutes talking to talent
before a take; I try to do it in six words. I keep it simple and actors
appreciate that. It works.”
The ads have been very well received and are spurring intense
interest in the Wellness 65+ program. Williams, meanwhile, has already directed
another spot for the brand targeted toward flu season. It’s been a busy period
for the director, who has also recently completed new campaigns for a car line,
an insurance company and a tourism bureau. “People tend to come back when they
work with me,” Williams says. “I’m proud of that.”

Titles:                    Water Fight, Swimmer, Scrambler
Client:                   Rite Aid
Agency:                Marc USA, Pittsburgh
Production:        A Common Thread. Brendan Williams,
director; J.P. McMahon and Tristan Drew, executive producers.

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