Part II: A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the “Always Deliver” television commercial
This year, we debuted our first-ever national multimedia brand campaign, “Always Deliver.” The campaign delivers on authenticity by featuring real-life workers and actual UniFirst employees to tell our story.
Throughout the campaign, our focus was to honor the worker: the people who do the hard work to support their families, communities, and businesses. When making the “Always Deliver” commercial, we turned to Michael Marantz, an award-winning director with years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies on brand campaigns, including major television commercials.
“‘Always Deliver’ tells the world not only who we are and what we do, but why we do it and most importantly who we do it for,” said UniFirst Vice President of Marketing Asit Goel. “We had the confidence to tell our story through real-life workers. Mike Marantz helped bring our story to life in an authentic and meaningful way.”
For the making of the commercial, the UniFirst team and Marantz filmed on location in Texas for several days at local businesses around the Austin area. Marantz cast actual workers from these businesses to star in the commercial.
We sat down with Marantz to discuss his initial attraction to the project, his artistic vision, and his collaboration with UniFirst.
UniFirst: What was it about UniFirst or the brand evolution that first attracted you to this project?
Marantz: You rarely get opportunities to define a look and a feel for a brand–especially a brand that’s been around for as long as UniFirst has and is as big as UniFirst is. Immediately, that was super exciting to be a part of…to shape and create a tone, a feeling, a message that will be carried on.
When I first got the creative brief, I was like, “Oh yeah, this is an awesome story…this is a great way for a brand to celebrate the worker.” It’s really smart because UniFirst enables so much work. So, to be able to celebrate work in general…it was obviously such a simple concept, but it was also really powerful and kind of selfless.
UniFirst is one of those companies that’s really in support of so many other industries. I immediately envisioned an opportunity to go and get some crazy beautiful footage of lots of different people and of different industries…and create something special.
UniFirst: What was your experience like collaborating with UniFirst?
Marantz: It was one of the most collaborative experiences I’ve ever had. From the get-go, it was a very special experience. A great example is during prep of the process, we went up to Nashua, New Hampshire, and took a tour of the UniFirst plan there. I met the CEO [Steven Sintros], some top executives, and the founder’s daughter [Cynthia Croatti]. I met all of them. You don’t see that at brand shoots.
It was like, “Wow, this is very different. This really feels like a ‘family’ kind of company.” They really care, which is very different…it’s just not normally how things are done. I think it just led to this overall feeling of collaboration.
UniFirst: Why did you make “authenticity” a key attribute of your creative vision? How did you go about conveying that authenticity?
Marantz: UniFirst wanted to tell a story that felt real – a true story. They want people to know that they are people who care about their customers …because they actually do! That’s the thing. I think it’s so easy for commercials to feel super staged. I tried to do everything I could to avoid that. We started location scouting way in advance, and we let our locations dictate our casting.
We cast real people out of these locations. That’s not normally how it’s done. Normally, you cast and you location scout at the same time. You kind of fill these actors in these positions who don’t really know what they’re doing.
UniFirst: So, a main way of conveying the authenticity was to literally cast real workers?
Marantz: Right. Like literally when we made plans to shoot at this machine shop down in Texas, we said, “Hey let’s cast like eight workers from the machine shop.” That’s how we went. I tried to do that as much as possible.
We hired real people who are actual nurses and who are medical professionals. Same thing with the chefs. There’s actual technique and knowledge with what they’re doing, and that translates on the screen.
Again, this isn’t normally how it’s done. But this commercial gave us the opportunity to [cast actual workers]. It translates on to screen, there’s no question, because you have people doing jobs and doing the work that they actually do. It shows.
UniFirst: All of the performers looked like naturals!
Marantz: A big specialty of mine is working with real people on screen and getting them to open up. All you have to do is get them to forget that there’s a camera there.
The key is to not over-direct them…that’s usually a good thing. So, in other words, with real people, the key is to have them not try too hard. So, it’s minimal direction and just make it feel casual. Less is more.
UniFirst: What was it like having the commercial air in front of millions of viewers during March Madness?
Marantz: It’s always exciting when one of your projects gets released. I was particularly proud of this one. I was so involved with [the process] …I composed the music; I helped edit it. I was a bit more involved than I normally am with a commercial project. So, I was definitely excited to see the premiere and very happy with how it turned out.
To catch up on Part I and view the “Always Deliver” commercial, click here. For more information about our UniFirst.com/rental and how we can always deliver for your business, visit UniFirst.com/rental