Thursday, August 30, 2007

You Can't Give It Away

Ten years ago this week we were hired to make a pair of commercials for Canada Dry and Schweppes. It was a promotional commercial and we had two build two sets using bottles of Ginger Ale, Club Soda and Tonic Water. One set was for the Canada Dry products and the bottles surrounded a Jeep they were giving away. The other set used the Schweppes products and we created a little putting green as their prize was a trip to the British Open golf tournament.

As filmmaking goes it was easy. Once the sets were built it was like shooting still pictures because nothing moved. The hard part of the job was building the sets with the bottles of soda. A semi-truck full of soda was delivered to the studio and for three days the art department and production assistants built our two sets with plastic soda bottles.

The shoot went well, and as often happens the agency was on a hard deadline so we had to transfer film on a Saturday morning- the morning Diana's death was announced- at double time. At the transfer session we asked the agency producer when someone was coming to pick up the soda and deliver back to the bottler. She told us we can't send it back because it costs too much to ship back to Dallas. The soda was ours to do with what we wanted.

What does one do with 10 or 20 THOUSAND bottles of soda? We had another problem- the bottles were sitting in the studio and we didn't want to pay $750 a day just to store ginger ale, so on that Monday we began the process of trying to give away a truck load of bubbly water. First we offered it to the crew, we all took as much as we wanted. (I don't drink soda, but I do enjoy a vodka and tonic. Note to self, next time get the Stolichnaya account.) We contacted charities and delivered cases of product to a Chicago social service agency called Off the Street Club- they were thrilled, but couldn't take more than a few hundred bottles.

We tried leaving it for the garbage collectors, but they wouldn't take it because the bottles were full. So at the end of the day we had a team of production assistants pour a few thousand liters of soda into the gutter and down into the Chicago sewer system.

I like to imagine all the bubbles cleaning the Chicago sewer system, but I don't think that happened.


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