Popsicle sticks serve as a springboard to true love in a clever new spot directed by Ross Ching of A Common Thread. Titled “Sweeten Your Life,” the spot, directed by Ching on spec, centers on a domino-like chain reaction in which hundreds of the familiar wooden sticks are sent flying in the air. A boy sets up an intricately woven maze of sticks at a beach in order to attract the attention of a young girl. The last stick in the chain tumbles in a plastic cup held by the girl. It bears a message asking her for a date.
“Popsicle sticks can be woven together in a certain way such that, when you remove the stick at the end, it sets off a chain reaction that ripples down the line at 35 miles per hour,” Ching explained. “We decided to take the idea a step further by building a story around it.”
Ching had the concept for the commercial in mind for a few years, but it was not practical to shoot until recently with the arrival of low-cost, high-speed digital cameras. Ching used a Phantom Miro camera to record the chain reaction at 1,000 frames per second, so that the sticks can be seen tumbling through the air in slow motion.
Ching shot the spot in one day on a beach in Venice, Calif., working with a small crew whose biggest challenge was to build chains of Popsicle sticks without prematurely setting them off. He staged a number of vignettes to enhance the story and make the chain reaction seem larger than life. The sticks explode under the wheels of a pair of passing skateboarders, through the legs of girls jumping rope and under the nose of a very surprised terrier.
“Ross has a clear sense of what it takes to make something viral,” said A Common Thread’s executive producer J.P. McMahon. “He understands analytics and how to hook people from the beginning of the spot – especially younger people who live on the web.”