Diagonal Media_SpeculativeAds

Creating Impactful Commercials on a Budget: Our Experience with ‘The Gold Star Gifter’

When filming a spec commercial there are a few things you want to keep in mind. 

1 – Make it great

2 – Make it affordable

3 – Make it really great

An easy formula, right? 

Sometimes, the creative challenge lies in the need to be nimble. Whether it’s a tight deadline, a small crew or the weather chooses not to cooperate, the show must always go on. 

Here at Diagonal Media, we pride ourselves on our adaptability. 

We concepted a speculative commercial for Uncommon Goods, “The Gold Star Gifter” because we were drawn to a single-shot narrative. We were inspired by the Samsung Feel More commercial and wanted to make a spot that captured the purchaser’s reaction, instead of the product itself. What quickly came to mind was the range of emotions you feel when your friend opens your gift in front of the entire party. It can be nerve-wracking! Ramped up with the pressure that you always get the perfect gift, and those 10 seconds can feel like an eternity. 

We wanted to show the gift-giver’s anticipation morph into excitement and, finally, relief. To do that, our team decided to add the vertigo effect because we love a challenge. The Vertigo effect creates a sense of dizziness in the scene. The effect is famously used in the movie Jaws, when Martin Brody realizes there’s a shark in the water. 

While we weren’t contending with a shark, the reason the Vertigo effect was perfect for a commercial about gift giving is that it highlights the sudden sense of anticipation. Our main character is literally holding her breath to see if her gift was a hit. In order to nail the shot we needed to stop the camera right when the tension eases, and our main character realizes her gift was a hit. Our DP, Garrett, executed this perfectly.

Anyone who’s worked on a set knows that filmmaking is a team sport. Producer Alex suggested we add a final scene between Stephanie (our main character) and another partygoer. In this button scene the partygoer asks Stephanie where she got the gift, giving Stephanie a chance to break the fourth wall and give a knowing smile to the camera. This moment sweetened everything we were trying to do. It brought attention back to the brand, Uncommon Goods, showing their desirability. 

This commercial was very fun to film and edit. Our set was a playground, we used colorful lights and a small crew and wrapped production in less than 2 hours. 



Really great!