Last year, Austin-based director and DP Bud Force (budforce.com) was approached to produce a national broadcast campaign and brand anthem for the Western apparel retailer, “Cavender’s,” which includes more than 80 stores nationwide. One of the biggest challenges in western lifestyle marketing is circumnavigating the cowboy cliches that have permeated the idea of the “West” for decades. Therefore, Cavender’s was looking for a director who could bring a hyper-authentic sense of realism to several concepts based on the foundation of grit and apparel.
Force, who focuses on non-fiction storytelling/brand films within the commercial landscape, is actually a former working cowboy and rodeo bull rider. He is also the co-director and cinematographer of the recently released feature-length film, “Cowboys: A Documentary Portrait,” which has been reviewed as one of the most authentic films to-date about the ranching industry. (thecowboymovie.com)
Working in hand with producer Cathy King and production company Ultralite Films (ultralitefilms.com), Force developed a comprehensive treatment that relied heavily on filming real people doing real things. The concepts primarily focused on the philosophies of working cowboys in a Western landscape although there was crossover into other elements for certain spots, such as construction and nightlife.
In order to retain full authenticity, Force felt it was mandatory to maintain a small production footprint by keeping the client and advertising agency from attending certain shoots and made that a contingency of accepting the job. The agency agreed to attend only a handful of local shoots while giving Force the freedom to manage the bulk of the productions independently. Using only natural light for all exteriors, the production crew consisted of less than five people, including still photographer John Langmore.
King, Force, and producer Chris Rodriguez lined out over 50 talent in locations across Texas and New Mexico, who were all styled by Fort Worth-based Amy Moorhouse. From there, the production crew shot and traveled for several weeks filming scenes ranging from dramatic cattle drives to welders to dancing and nightlife.
Once production wrapped, Force and Ultralite Films worked with edit house, “Outpost,” of Bruton Stroube (brutonstroube.com), located in St. Louis, Missouri. Collaborating closely with editors Lucas J. Harger (lucasjharger.com) and Andy DeVries, the team spent the next several months creating a signature two-minute brand film in addition to multiple 30, 15, and 6 second broadcast spots. The music for all spots was custom scored by Cleod9 Music in Washington DC, and the brand anthem song was arranged by singer/songwriter Daniel Libby. Spot scripts were written by Stephanie Orges, while the brand anthem relies solely on lyrical music from a cattle-driving melody from the late 1800s. Sound design was engineered by Steve Horne and coloring crafted by Brian Singler, both of Bruton Stroube.
The campaign won Best of Show for the brand anthem and 10 gold ADDYs at Fort Worth’s 2020 American Advertising Awards.