In HyConnect’s latest campaign for the
American Academy of Dermatology a dark spot on a lawn serves as a metaphor for
LOS ANGELES—Director Peter
Dietrich of A Common Thread uses
humor to get people to think seriously about a scary subject matter in a new
campaign for the American Academy of Dermatology and Chicago agency HyConnect.
In Lawn¸ a man’s
obsession with a brown patch on his lawn serves as a metaphor for the
importance of skin cancer detection. The man tries everything to restore his
front yard to pristine condition, carefully reseeding the dead spot, using a
scarecrow to fend off birds and taking nocturnal PH readings.  “You’d do anything to take care of that spot
in your lawn,” cautions the voiceover. “So, why not take care of that spot on
your skin?” As the narration provides advice on how to avoid becoming a cancer
victim, the man continues his lawn care crusade. Ultimately, he is consigned to
sitting and gazing at the spot, waiting for the grass to grow.

Humor is the
good way to coax people into focusing on a subject most people would rather
avoid, says Dietrich. “Cancer is a serious issue, but here it’s brought to you
with a twinkle in the eye,” he explains. “It keeps viewers from feeling
uncomfortable or offended.”
The spot’s
hero is a Walter Mitty-esque everyman, and representative of the target demographic:
men over 50 (the group most likely to develop skin cancer). “He’s an average
guy, slightly comical, put upon but not a clown,” Dietrich says. Under
Dietrich’s light directorial touch, the actor underplays the role so that as
his grass growing efforts become ever more ornate, they remain believable. You
want him to succeed. “It’s all about his nuanced looks, body language and
pained facial expressions,” Dietrich observes. “We know how much this means to him
but it just isn’t working out.”

Dietrich directed
a second spot that centers on a young girl sunbathing on a beach. After she
lays out her towel, strips down to a bikini and stretches out, the camera pulls
back to reveal that she is contained inside an hourglass. The voiceover reminds
young women that “time may not be on your side.”
commercials are atmospheric, visually striking and very human,” Dietrich
concludes. “They combine nicely-toned performances, elegant cinematography, meticulous
art direction, comedy and drama to deliver a very serious message.”
A Common Thread is located at 4081
Redwood Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90066. For more information, call
310.823.7300 or visit
Client:              American
Academy of Dermatology
Title:                Lawn, Time
Agency:           HyConnect,
Chicago. Kevin Houlihan, executive creative director; Michael Matykiewicz,
associate creative director/copywriter; Colin Quinn, senior art director; Kiki
Hayes, producer.
Production:      A
Common Thread. Peter Dietrich, director; J.P. McMahon and Tristan Drew,
executive producers.
Edit:                 The
Colonie, Chicago. Tom Pastorelle, editor.
VFX:                 Arsenal
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