Campaigns Ruled By Fun
Crain's Cleveland Business
Evil Plan, a music video Purple Films shot for rapper Tezo in 2011, doesn’t even have 10,000 views on YouTube.But Chad Kersman, Nike’s global communications director, saw it, and he reached out to the Cleveland-based production company about working on a Kyrie Irving shoot two years later. Last summer, Purple Films was on hand at the University of Akron when LeBron James and Nike launched the global superstar’s latest sneaker line.“We did a low-budget music video and landed a Nike campaign,” said Dan Gillespie, who started Purple Films with partner and fellow 2006 Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School graduate Jimmy Gall five years ago.The pair started filming videos for Cuyahoga Community College when they were 18- and 19-year-old freshmen. Once they started shooting music videos with rappers, which meant they “started getting paid with checks,” Gall and Gillespie formed an LLC, the latter said.In March, Purple Films got another big break when Fresh Brewed Tees hired the company to produce promotional videos for a line of T-shirts featuring Major League Baseball players announcing amusing presidential campaigns.Fresh Brewed Tees founder Tony Madalone said he’s been working with Purple Films for the last four or five years, and he’s enjoying watching the company grow.“They’re kind of my guys,” Madalone said. “I don’t work with anyone else in Cleveland (for video production).”The spoof campaigns turned into a month-long project in which Madalone and Purple Films toured MLB spring training sites in Florida and Arizona, followed by a quick stop at Wrigley Field in Chicago to work with Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel.Big-league players such as the Indians’ Jason Kipnis and Corey Kluber, and Seattle Mariners All-Star Robinson Cano, filmed videos in which they announce why they should be the next president. And like any good campaign, T-shirts are involved.Fresh Brewed Tees is licensed with the MLB Players Association, and Madalone used his connections with agents and teams to convince several players to shoot campaign videos. In his, the Tribe’s Kipnis said if he is elected president, “Every night would be Dollar Dog Night,” and the team would have cheerleaders. Not to be outdone, Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner promises to fix the parking in Los Angeles.“I’d probably make it free,” Turner said.Several of the videos went viral on social media, and in each, the player is wearing a Fresh Brewed-produced T-shirt with their name and “FOR PRESIDENT” on the front.Purple Films has 10 MLB player videos on its website, and more are on the way. There are many more T-shirts than videos — Madalone said there would be 80 to 100 by the end of the baseball season. As of June 7, Fresh Brewed had 61 presidential T-shirts available for purchase on its website. Madalone said other shirts will be sold strictly in team shops.The shirts featuring Kipnis and Kluber for president have arrived in the Indians’ team shop at Progressive Field, and will be available for purchase soon. Fresh Brewed products are also available in the team shops of the Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays.“When the players promote it, it goes heavy in those markets,” Madalone said of the prank campaigns. “Felix Hernandez is probably the most popular player in Seattle. When he promotes (his shirt) on Twitter or Instagram, it goes viral for the day. It delivers traffic, revenue and popularity for the brand.”The players get a cut of the sales. For Purple Films, it’s another fun production for an up-and-coming company that now has four full-timers, including the two founders, and three or four freelancers whom Gillespie said Purple Films works with “quite often.”Madalone said he plans to take Purple Films with him to San Diego for the MLB All-Star Game next month for more promotions he has planned.Purple Films works out of the Hot Cards space at 2400 Superior Avenue. In addition to Nike and Fresh Brewed Tees, the company counts Time Warner Cable and Mace Brand as notable clients.Gillespie said his favorite MLB shoot was Hammel, a Cubs right-hander whose campaign sloganis “Hell yes.”“He was pretty excited. He was thanking us,” Gillespie said. “He said, ‘We’re always doing serious stuff. This is a way to change the pace a little bit.’ About an hour after we left, we got word from his agent that he called and said he nailed it.”
Kevin Kleps, Crain's Cleveland
Nike's LeBron 13 Launch Experience
CLEVELAND, Ohio – There's a lot of excitement growing for Nike's LeBron 13 shoe design and Cleveland-based film company, Purple Films, was there capture the moment.LeBron James threw a special event on Sunday at the University of Akron's E.J. Thomas Hall to promote the release of his latest Nike basketball shoe creation. Nike, the LeBron James Family Foundation, and the Cavs invited about 2,000 guests.Purple Films was hired by Nike to shadow James as he made several appearances throughout the day. Nike reached out to Dan Gillespie, Purple's co-founder, after working with the crew back in 2013 during 'Kyrie Irving's Nike Inside Access' video."We've shot two videos with Nike so far," said Gillespie. "Sunday was pretty cool. It was a very hectic day with an incredible amount of Nike employees and stagehands running the show. We were given James' schedule for the day so we set up a shot list based on that."The event ran from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and included James giving a group of kids design lessons and sitting with shoe designers for a roundtable discussion."LeBron's the man," said Gillespie. "We had him mic'd up the whole day because he always had something going on. It was pretty intense on his end because he was constantly doing things like working with the students or meeting with media."The film crew of seven had three camera operators, a runner, an editor and a sound person. The launch experience video was shot and edited on the same day and went live on the Nike Basketball YouTube page Monday.
Kristel Hartshorn, Cleveland.com