Familiar Creatures, Directors Ben Hurst + Dave Thomas Mine Quirky Comedy For Kernel Season's

By

Robert Goldrich
Friday, May. 5, 2023

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From Richmond, Va.-based creative agency Familiar Creatures comes a quirky, humorous new campaign for Kernel Season’s, a popcorn seasoning that’s part of the Sauer Brands family. Launching nationally, the “Just Add Interesting” campaign includes this “Gold Mine” commercial in which a man on a couch benefits from a giant hand which enters his living room out of the blue, sprinkling Kernel Season’s over his bowl of popcorn. The unapologetically odd spot then finds the seasoned popcorn, which comes in 20-plus tasty flavors, in turn attracting another unexpected guest--a miner character who breaks through the couch, whistling a catchy tune.

This is the first work by Familiar Creatures for the brand, founded over 20 years ago, since being appointed as its lead creative agency at the end of 2022.  

In partnering with Kernel Season’s, the agency really began at building the brand from the ground up, including cultivating its vision and values, as well as their tone and most importantly--their positioning. It was after running their brand workshop with the client, that they landed on “Popcorn’s Mischievous Best Friend”--aka that playful nudge and “kick” plain popcorn’s always needed.  “For centuries, popcorn has played it safe with salt and butter. We wanted to convey that Kernel Season’s role is to be that movie character with the spunk and spontaneity to take popcorn on a joyride with popcorn’s dad’s sports car--much to popcorn’s chagrin and or delight,” explained Justin Bajan, co-founder/creative director at Familiar Creatures.

The creative team ultimately developed several creative platforms and landed on “Just Add Interesting” to launch the brand’s new messaging. Huge fans of filmmaking duo Ben Hurst + Dave Thomas’ high concept comedy hi-jinx for years, Familiar Creatures enlisted the directors to shoot their campaign in Austin, Texas. “A unique aspect of our videos is that they always feature a giant hand coming from out of nowhere to sprinkle the product onto the scene and popcorn,” said Bajan. “Ben & Dave decided the smartest way to pull this off was with ‘forced perspective,’ a technique that allows two very different sized things to exist in the same space without a green screen, as done in movies like Elf and Lord of the Rings.” 

On creating the spots, characters were key – relatable, lovable, and expressive with the ability to regard the most absurd of scenarios with relative restraint.  For the role of the ‘Miner,’ in “Gold Mine,” Familiar Creatures cast a first-time actor who blew them away with his look and personality. “Ben + Dave had fantastic on-set instincts and Munn Powell, the DP, really helped bring a natural yet quirky look and feel,” shared Bajan.” We always figured we would do the whistling in post, but rolled sound just in case and ended up using our talent’s natural whistling abilities in the spot.”  

Credits

Client Sauer Brands/Kernel Season’s Alina Allen, brand manager; Christina Jarboe, social media manager; John Dijulio, designer. Agency Familiar Creatures Justin Bajan, Dustin Artz, co-founders/creative directors; T. Scott Major, art director; Kate Luxton, brand director; Scott Friske, head of production. Production Ben Hurst + Dave Thomas, directors; Erin Malloy, producer. Postproduction Familiar Creatures Tiffany Burchard, editor; Matthew Schwab, colorist; Chris Hagen, VFX/Flame artist; Ryan Musselman, VFX/3D. Audio Post Overcoast Music + Sound Matt Whitworth, partner/head of postproduction; Travis Tucker, partner/exec producer. Media Agency Lewis Media Partners

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