Hollywood or Needhamwood: local company produces ads for tv

By Kathryn Eident
Boston Globe
July 6, 2009

Have you seen advertisements for ABC’s TV show, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”? Do you know the opening for the Discovery Channel’s reality show, “Deadliest Catch”? How about the teaser for HBO’s showing of “The Dark Knight”?

While the shows themselves may have been produced in the glitz of Hollywood or the grit of New York City, the ads and promos are homegrown productions.

Viewpoint Creative, a locally-owned advertising agency, has been producing ads for channels like HBO and ABC in Needham for more than 20 years. Tucked away in a non-descript brick building on Second Ave, more than 30 film editors, animators and writers have access to some of the industry’s most high-tech software to film, enhance, and edit their projects. And as a bonus, they get to work some of Hollywood’s biggest names while doing it.

“I like to think of ourselves as this little, undiscovered company in an industrial park in Needham,” David Shilale, Viewpoint’s general manager said. “Ironically—here we are this little company in Needham but our clients are everywhere but Needham.”

Now the company is gearing up for the release of its latest project: a nearly two-minute montage promoting HBO’s Sunday night line up, scheduled to air July 12th.

The montage highlights six other HBO shows, reminding viewers that on Sunday nights, HBO, “will come to you.” The ad takes place in would-be viewers’ homes, and features them interacting with the characters from their favorite HBO shows.

For instance, in one scene, a housewife wonders aloud who finished the last of the orange juice while Bret and Jermaine from “Flight of the Conchords” lean against the counter and nonchalantly deny taking it. In another, a child asks Ari Gold from Entourage if he can schedule a play date and he responds, “I sure can Billy, that’s what I do.”

The effect, achieved with a combination of on-set filming and computer magic, makes it seem as if fictional characters are part of real life. And with the exception of the scenes taken from previously aired shows, the filming, casting and editing all took place in New England.

Viewpoint prides itself on being able to produce ads from concept to final product completely in-house.

“Basically it’s all hands on deck for executing anything in advertising and marketing,” Shilale said. “What separates ourselves from a traditional advertising agency is our being able to go through from the creative to the final product.”

Inside the company’s Needham-based headquarters, brightly painted and decorated rooms are set up for artists and film editors to create the TV, radio and print spots. In this warm atmosphere, they work on Apple computers outfitted with highly-sophisticated programs like Photoshop, editing software like Final Cut Pro and computer enhancing systems like Flame.

“What we really take pride in is our artists because with out them our computers would mean nothing,” Shilale said.

For a project like HBO’s “Stay Home” montage, producers and editors spent five months and thousands of hours on everything from scheduling film shoots to the tedious task of cutting the characters out of their original TV scenes and inserting them into the scenes created for the commercial.

“We wrote 85 scripts and narrowed them down with [HBO],” Shilale said. “We started prepping the project in January.”

In an industry like advertising, technology can make or break what may seem like a promising idea. Twenty-one years ago the company’s founders mortgaged their homes and searched for investors to buy a $200,000 computer for animation, Shilale said.

Now that computer has been repurposed as a side-table and machines with twice the power and half the size whir in the adjacent rooms.

“I think it’s a blessing and a curse,” he said. “It allows us to do things much faster—but therefore our clients want some things more quickly.”

But technology’s advancements—and dinosaurs—aren’t slowing down this company. In addition to pending projects for regular customers like HBO, Viewpoint is taking commissions from New England-based companies like Reebok to spiff up their product lines.

“One thing we do well is the emotional connection with TV shows, and we believe it’s the same with lifestyle brands,” Shilale said.

“We’re fast—we’re nimble,” he added. “Our job is to get a consumer to watch or buy a product.”

Watch for the “Stay Home” montage on HBO starting July 12. To see examples of Viewpoint’s work, visit: viewpointcreative.com.

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