As the 2024 NCAA tournament opened, Coca-Cola Zero ads celebrating tournament fans were seen for both men’s and women’s games with a campaign and tagline from Cartwright built around the idea that “Fan Work is Thirsty Work.” The line comes to life as fans scream and taunt a player at the Free Throw line, hoping for a missed shot. All that yelling of course, ties back to Coca-Cola Zero as the ultimate refresher. 

But as the tournament came down to just four teams, some of the fans were switched out to showcase schools in the finals. Just as Coca-Cola Zero Sugar refreshes the passion of fans all tournament long, Cartwright refreshed the creative to feature the most topical teams as the tournament results unfolded. 

To update with fresh footage in record time, Cartwright’s team had several phases on their production calendars. At the storyboarding phase of the campaign, they kept track of the teams most likely to end up in the Final Four - filming these schools in advance, and making quick additions and swaps as any upsets rolled in. 

The creative team needed to capture free-throw distractions like behaviors and rituals unique to the fans of each school. They did this by tapping into the most authentic expressions of fandom by celebrating the high-intensity points in each game where fans’ energy and creativity can be the difference between a win and a loss in the moments that matter most - free-throws. This “6th player” on the court even got their own soundtrack - with Butter recreating a new cover of Jay Hawkins’ hit “I Put a Spell On You.”

The details involved in re-shooting the new team representatives were more important than ever for wardrobe and makeup, as each team was represented by 7 team-specific OCPs and 75 team-specific extras filming on-campus in USC’s famous Galen Center.  

Cartwright chose Paul Geusebrok of Iconoclast as their director for his experience in sports film and his masterful technical skills with dynamic camerawork that created a truly immersive experience into the crowds of these passionate basketball fans.

Paul used two cameras to create this versatile wipe approach that helped to make everything modular: a handheld, operated extended arm with a gimbal on it - which is a new experimental tool that allowed him to stick the camera just about anywhere with full control of whip and tilt, and a steady camera that shot at 120 fps (frames per second) to be able to play with speed changes and amplify the more emotive and dramatic fan distractions

Editor Biff Butler from Work editorial was on set for the final phase of production, scrubbing through and editing footage as it was being reshot, enabling the agency to refresh the creative so quickly. 

Final filming ended on April 1 with the women’s Final Four being decided literally while the creative team was on set. The re-mastered ad aired three days after post-production began and just in time for the Women’s Final Four. 

Coke Zero Sugar | Free Throw Madness | Final Four

Video Source: YouTube