The Power of Two: Puma, Late Night & Weekends Spring an Instant Classic Campaign, 'French 77', on Viewers

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Puma's shoes and apparel blossom with fresh new set of :15 HD spots.

When you see them, hopefully you just think, 'Puma is cool, these people seem happy. I liked that.'

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Puma is speaking the international language with "French 77", an energetic new campaign where the visuals quickly tell satisfying stories. Wholly created and shot by the uniquely comprehensive shop of Late Night & Weekends (LN&W), the graphically punchy four-pack of :15 HD spots puts Puma style front and center just in time for Spring.

Starring a highly addictive rock track and a host of fresh young faces, "French 77" draws inspiration from another highlight era for Puma, the 1970's. The spin in 2007 is that the spots build on Puma's most recent work, a highly successful 360 campaign where live animals and apparel were joined in arresting visual fashion.

"Puma has always been smart about their brand objectives: make people smile, feel inclusive, project a sporty style and do it simply," says Alex Vlack, Executive Producer, LN&W (http://www.latenightandweekends.com). "We knew we had to build on a campaign with the strong visual impact of animals and their relationship to products, and make it even stronger this time by linking the clothes and shoes to people instead of ants, deer, turtles and wolves."

LN&W's close collaboration with Puma resulted in a concept where an immediate, visceral connection is drawn between the apparel and the visual world. Driven each time by the same raw, rhythmically upbeat song from the Philadelphia band Mazarin, each :15 spot is set in a bright white universe that plays host to a graphically clever event. In "Cliffs", blue bars drawn from the design on a man's jacket create a bouncy graphic equalizer that the actors can stand on. The drawstrings of the man's pink coat serve to shrink a matching pink tennis court in "Rain", drawing him and his partner together. "Zipper" sees a woman zip her yellow jacket zipper up, which brings the man to her as they walk away together. In "Stairs", both actors energetically ascend a row of black discs that turn out to be the perforations in the man's shoe.

Inspired by Puma's passion for imagery that would stand out from the crowd, LN&W Director Andrew Zuckerman and DP Paul Cameron went to work in 24p. Using the Panavision Genesis camera and the look-up table, they captured one spot per day in a spirited Los Angeles shoot. "With this campaign, the challenge was to find a way to make the product -- both shoes and apparel -- the star, while incorporating people," Zuckerman explains. "The solution lay in the animation treatments: What we did was take elements from the products--blue bars on a track jacket, a yellow zipper, perforations in shoes, drawstrings on a hooded jacket--and bring these elements into an otherwise blank, white world. So what happens is that you get the immediate connection again: you understand right away that it's the products themselves that are creating the world these people live in.

"Throughout, we felt it was important to get as many real interactions as possible. Since the final spots were going to be so animation-heavy, I wanted contact points and interactions between people to be real whenever we could. A good example of this is in 'Stairs'. The conceit of this spot is that the models are running up opposite sides of a long staircase that's made from the holes in the featured shoe. We fabricated a staircase with black discs on it that was about fifty feet long - so that with hardly any special effects other than clean-up, you see people walking on these floating discs. You feel like they're really in the space, and I think this helps sell the idea that the design elements of the Puma products are really shaping the world, not just tacked on later."

LN&W called on premier NYC FX house Smoke & Mirrors to handle the critical
3D design and Flame artistry that would make everything come together in post. "'Cliff' was the most post-heavy spot," Vlack notes. "Since it's like a giant graphic EQ, the graphics had to move in time with the music. The camera spin was also a very complicated move, but they pulled it off amazingly. Since everything was in HD, every render took four times as long, but it always proved to be worth the wait."

A highly experienced creative and production team, LN&W have quickly built up an impressive body of work since forming in early 2006. In addition to multiple Puma campaigns, the pair has also co-produced and collaborated on the story for the critically praised indie short film High Falls, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach with Vlack writing the screenplay and Zuckerman directing. LN&W has also published a book of photographs Zuckerman took as a series related to the film.

Puma and the "French 77" campaign benefited from LN&W's refreshingly simple structure: a fast-moving and efficient two-person creative agency that customizes a top-tier team of freelancers for each distinct project. "Puma is a smart company that's very open to new ways of working, and they picked up immediately on the advantages of collaborating with LN&W," says Vlack. "The interesting thing about LN&W is that it's just Andrew and me - we have no employee overhead, which means that we can pull in whoever we think is best to work on a campaign's concepting phase and art direction. It's a very freeing way for the group to work, and it forms a team that's working directly with the client at all times, understanding what they want and forging an incredibly close relationship."

"When everyone is happy with the direction, we lead the production of the campaign," Zuckerman adds. "It's very simple. It's not rocket science, and it seems like that's how it should always be. The talent, then, can devote all their energy to the campaign in a way that is sometimes hard when you're working in a huge place that you go to every day. This kind of work model delivered the unconventional thinking that Puma was looking for: it makes everyone--both the freelancers we hire and ourselves -- have more fun with each project."

Watching the spirit of the "French '77" :15's unfold, Puma's penchant for innovation and masteful branding comes through loud and clear. "The spots do exactly what they're supposed to do: make you smile," Andrew Zuckerman says. "When you see them, hopefully you just think, 'Puma is cool, these people seem happy. I liked that.'"

About Late Night & Weekends
Founded in 2006 by Alex Vlack and Andrew Zuckerman, Late Night & Weekends (LN&W) is a boutique creative agency. LN&W works directly with its client to form original concepts and creative, as well as executing all stages of production. By customizing teams from the ground up for each project, LN&W allows media campaigns to realize their fullest creative potential while moving with maximum efficiency.

For more information, please visit http://www.latenightandweekends.com.

Media contact:
Kevin Fetterplace at Mojo Working International
Kevin (at) Mojoworking.com
(001) 646 359 3961

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