The Lowe's Senior CLASS Award celebrates the outstanding senior NCAA student-athlete of the Year in ten different sports. Created in 2001, the award was established to honor those student-athletes who choose to stay in school for all four years. Each January, Premier Sports and Lowe's purchase time during college football's BCS title game to honor that year's recipient in football. The goal is to craft a thirty second commercial that furthers the brand of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award as a great achievement while honoring that year's recipient.
The spot needed to incorporate three things:
- Game highlight footage of the award winner - Michigan State's quarterback Kirk Cousins.
- Footage of Cousins doing work in the community.
- Footage - along with audio - of Cousins describing how he sees himself as a role model.
The game highlight footage was easy enough. It was simply a matter of sifting through source material to find plays where we could highlight the Spartan quarterback. Same for the footage of Cousins in the community. A camera crew from Michigan State accompanied Cousins and some of his teammates as they delivered Christmas packages to underprivileged youth just prior to the holidays.
A good start... But the footage of Cousins talking about his responsibilities off the field was going to present some issues.
In August, Cousins delivered a speech at a kickoff luncheon for the Big 10 Conference. It was a tremendous speech, touching on how he saw himself as a leader off the field, so we were going to use it as our narrative base for the commercial. The audio track cut together well. The problem was with the footage. The Big 10 Network shot the luncheon with a camera locked down in the center of the room where Cousins stood behind a podium, but the backdrop - a plain white screen - was less than inspiring. Take a look for yourself:
Never mind the strange Big 10 logo on the front of the podium. This visual wouldn't serve a national commercial... Or a local one for that matter. So some serious first aid was necessary before it was ready for prime time. During a series of conference calls with Premier Sports, it was decided to craft a new stage... One much more dynamic, that included spotlights and a video board background. This way, we would see him deliver his speech with his own highlights playing on the screen in the background. This would make the commercial a true celebration of Cousins and his accomplishments - both on and off the field - making him a worthy recipient of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
Using Adobe Creative Suite our graphics team set to work, building the new "stage" using Video Co-Pilot Optical Flares to reach the desired lighting effect. When everything was scaled and in place, we cut mattes around Cousins and dropped him into his new setting. Once everything was composited, it was a huge improvement over the original footage:
We rounded out the spot with a final congratulatory message built using a virtual 3D type treatment. At this point, all we needed was the final branding message, tying together the award with Lowe's as it's sponsor. This was achieved building a closing logo animation with 3D Studio Max.
The finished product aired on ESPN in January.
It was also posted to YouTube where it received over 11,000 views in the first month.