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HomeIndustry SectorCommercialsSam Auster Directs Betty White Zombie Ad for AARP

Sam Auster Directs Betty White Zombie Ad for AARP


Sam Auster directed the new AARP spot "Zombies."
In her latest spot for AARP, Betty White shows how easy it is to distinguish members of the organization from people who haven’t joined – the latter act a lot like zombies. The spot, which was written and directed by Sam Auster of Burbank-based Auster Productions, advises such folk to sign up and “get a life.”

In the spot, White, (who recently turned 90), pokes fun at people who haven’t joined AARP comparing them to zombies. She has close encounters with one zombie in a yoga class, and elbows two more out of the way while strolling through a park. “You’d have to be brain dead not to join,” she says. White delivers an enrollment package to a zombie neighbor, which causes him to magically transform into a smiling hunk.

Auster, a commercial and feature film director, came up with the idea for the spot while working directly with AARP. This is the third AARP ad to feature White but the first produced without the involvement of an advertising agency. The director said that the commercial’s absurdist humor is meant to grab the attention of people over 50.

“We hope the spot goes viral,” said Auster. “Our target audience doesn’t make the most active use of social media and so we felt we needed to do something a little more ‘out there’ and provocative to get them to pass it onto their friends.”

Auster shot the spot in an efficient one-day shoot. All of the set ups, which included a yoga classroom, a park and a front porch, were shot at the same suburban Los Angeles home. In fact, all of White’s scenes were shot in a single morning session. That allowed Auster to spend the afternoon shooting a series of short vignettes with the actress that will appear on the AARP website.

Auster was amazed by the Emmy-winning actress’s stamina. “It is a fairly-action packed spot and I wondered if she could handle it,” he said, “but when I said ‘action,’ it was like she dropped 50 years. She never forgot a line or missed her mark; Betty blew me away.”

It’s unusual for an advertiser of the stature of AARP to work without an agency, but Auster believes it could become the new norm. “Every client is under budget pressure. We can combine the creative functions of agency and a production company and save them significant dollars,” he said. “That’s a powerful motivator, especially, if clients can do so without sacrificing creativity or production value.”

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