When my very talented Art Director friend Jeff Moss moved away from Charlotte and down to sunny Ft. Lauderdale, I was sad we would not be working together again as often as we have been. He took a gig as the Creative Director for the Alec Bradley Cigar Co. But as soon as he got his first sunburn, we were collaborating on a new ad campaign! Jeff had designed the new cigar bands and the new ‘look’ for AB. Now it was time to put that look out there. We tossed around a lot of different ideas, all based around the company’s new slogan – “Live True”. After Jeff and I batted around 1000 ideas, it was the leader of AB, Alan Rubin, who hit upon the perfect idea. Instead of real people being in the ads, Alan thought we should use the sales reps. Together, they are called the ‘Road Warriors’ as they are always out on the road selling cigars. Each rep was given a handle and their nickname based off their own personality. There is The Masterchief, The Mixologist, The Rock Star, The Zen Master, The Player, The Trailblazer, etc, etc. Jeff and I then came up with ideas on how to portray and spotlight the guys. Jeff handled much of the location scouting, and I did some using Google Street view. Once we had all of the handles figured out and the locations picked out, it was down to logistics for the 12 Road Warriors. Luckily, they would all be town for their annual sales meetings. Hotels and flights were extended and we shot all 12 of the reps in a 3.5 day whirlwind shoot! We started at 7am and shot until about 9pm each day, hitting 3-4 locations each day. Everything went pretty smoothly, thanks to all of the pre-production. The locations were perfect. We even did 3 shots at the golf course and club house where Caddyshack was filmed! We only had a couple of hiccups along the way and learned a few things: A super windy day and a baseball field with a canvas background will only work with 9 guys holding it in place. A box of cigars will go a long way as a bribe when you forget to pull a permit! And we went through 30 boxes of cigars during the shoot!
The photographs were very well received by Jeff and Alan and have been used in many ways since then. The main campaign features a different Road Warrior and runs in Cigar Aficionado, they are used larger than life as the walls of the trade show booth, each Road Warrior has a life sized banner that he uses at his in store events and they also have 8×10’s that they can hand out to their ‘fans’ and the portraits are used in all sorts of social media! A couple of the guys were a bit skeptical about the idea until they ran out of 8×10’s and had over 250 Facebook fans!
We continue to shoot for Alec Bradley, shooting a new group shot of all of the Road Warriors in Orlando and additional portraits and some new Road Warriors this year!
The ads that have run already, be on the lookout for the rest of the series!
Here is a little iPhone video from our windy day for the shot above