Creative multicultural production company The Cortez Brothers, in partnership with agencies Weber Shandwick and Axis, has produced a new campaign to promote California's enrollment in the Affordable Care Act. Titled “I’m In/Tengo Un Plan,” the bilingual campaign (English/Spanish) consists of 12 on-air spots – the first of which debuted during the Oscars telecast. The campaign is also reaching Californians via billboards, transit ads, print media, web and social media.
“I’m In/Tengo Un Plan” is yet another example of The Cortez Brothers’ storytelling capabilities and its specialty in both the general U.S. and Hispanic markets. Working closely with director Joe Murray, they crafted a campaign that simultaneously addresses the health concerns of California’s diverse population and the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Everyday citizens, who share personal stories in their own words, were the cornerstone of the campaign's messaging strategy.
“From the first time I looked at the boards, I needed to find not only an amazing visual director who is an expert working with real people, but also someone who is very passionate about the subject matter,” says Ed Rivero, Executive Producer of The Cortez Brothers. “This director needed to have his own process in making these real people comfortable enough to open up their lives to us in a very organic way, as if they were just talking to a friend, and Joe [Murray] always brings that to all of his spots. He was really the right choice.”
“Joe didn’t just embrace the project, he embraced the cause of affordable healthcare for all,” says John Avery, Executive Creative Director at Weber Shandwick. “He way over-delivered on what we asked for, and that effort really elevated the work.”
“The Affordable Care Act is a topic that is extremely important right now,” adds Murray. “And this campaign is a testimony of real people with real healthcare issues who have benefitted from the program.”
During preproduction, Murray traveled all over Los Angeles County – from Alhambra to Monrovia to Hermosa Beach – for in-home pre-interviews with the subjects in order to get to know them more intimately, as well as put them at ease before for the actual shoots. The initial meetings were conducted in English by Murray and some of the footage he shot ended up in the final spots as additional visuals.
“Everyone has a story to tell, and my goal was to ensure that our subjects felt comfortable enough to share their story,” says Murray. “Once you’ve established that trust, they’re more likely to open up their world to you.”
Murray says the production operated in the capacity of a hybrid combination of a typical commercial crew and a documentary crew, working closely with the agency’s writer and creative director to conduct the interviews on the shoot days. He shot the main body of the spots on two Arri Alexas and additional scenes on a Canon 5D2 without a crew present.
Once the creatives established the overall tonality of the campaign, Murray made sure that each spot had its own character and emphasized the story of the person in front of the lens. Each interviewee represented a specific healthcare issue that was aided by Covered California. To make the campaign more relatable, the spots also captured the everyday lives of the subjects, such as a yoga studio owner teaching her classes and a Mexican Charro (cowboy) performing bull tricks on a ranch.
“We’re telling many stories, but not with talking heads, so there’s an expansive pictorial tapestry to this campaign,” says Murray. “At the end of the day, we were trying to tell a visual narrative that could stand on its own with the same production values of any other national campaign.”
With only four days to shoot the spots, the production was executed in a short timeframe. Producer Dolly Tarazon-Billinger, who has worked with Murray extensively, credits the team’s strong relationships with bringing the project together smoothly.
“We had to do quite a bit on the fly, so it helped that we were working with people we’ve known for years,” concludes Tarazon-Billinger. “We have that trust and security to fall back on, especially with such a condensed schedule.”
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