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Let's Get It On: The Seventies on CNN

June 8, 2015

Following the critically-acclaimed CNN Original series The Sixties, we’ve reunited with the network to help produce another multi-platform branding and marketing campaign for The Seventies.

The eight-part documentary series from EMMY® Award-winning producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman (Playtone), in association with HBO and EMMY® Award-winning producer Mark Herzog (Herzog & Company), paints a vivid portrait of a period of lasting consequence, through the use of raw and rarely seen archival footage, as well as interviews with journalists, historians, musicians and television artists who were eyewitnesses to history.

Led by creative director Anna Minkkinen, we worked closely with CNN to create a series of promos and teasers, as well as key art and brand elements for The Seventies campaign’s digital components.

“The ‘70s are profoundly relevant to many of the major global issues America faces today including energy, equal rights and terrorism,” remarks Minkkinen. “The decade revealed the consequences of the ‘60s and, ultimately, set the stage for our modern world today. This lasting significance informed how we concepted our campaign, while the integrity and intelligence of both the series and CNN inspired our work.”

Drawing a connection to The Sixties campaign motif, television’s entry into the American home, the classic Polaroid frames the subjects explored in the second installment of the series. These instant photographs became historical windows into the different aspects of the ‘70s.


“We wanted this campaign to have its own personality as a decade within the larger brand of the series,” says Minkkinen. “When the Polaroid SX-70 Land camera came out in 1972, it was the quintessential consumer-facing technology of the time — and the perfect device to visually underscore the purveying theme of change explored in CNN’s series.”

The Polaroid trope cleverly plays into different aspects of the campaign, including the series tagline, “One Nation Under Change,” which loyalkaspar also coined to allude to the bicentennial, as well as themes of self-reinvention in America, socially and politically; and the key art, which will appear in prominent OOH placements in major U.S. cities, including billboards, buses and transit stations.

The teasers and launch promo are backed by iconic ‘70s songs, including the revolutionary chant of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” in the launch spot, a dynamic collage of Polaroid-framed video clips, photographs and sound bites that capture the essence of the decade.

“Music played an integral role in conceiving the campaign early on,” explains Minkkinen. “Not only was it a big part of the ‘70s ethos, but also it spoke to the decade’s split personality with the rise of disparate disco and punk genres.”

Lyrics played into scripting and visualizing important themes: “Let’s Get it On” suggests the sexual revolution, while it invites viewers to tune in to the series itself; the melancholy “Dream On” speaks to the complexity of the American dream amid watershed political scandals; and “I Will Survive” simultaneously offers the iconic escape of disco beats while it suggests a need for manifesto-like determination amid painful times.

The intensive pre-production process included detailed animatics and tests to map out camera moves choreographed to the music, as well as meticulous prop selection – both to ensure historical accuracy and to create a bold and cohesive color palette.

The nostalgic environments were captured primarily in-camera on Phantom and Red models, using a technocrane to achieve complex long takes with curving moves that travel over detailed sets. ”Dream On” evokes the POV of a determined journalist, as the camera moves across a colorful desk of ‘70s artifacts, including a typewriter, rotary telephone, and a Watergate-headlined newspaper. The team also shot additional background plates for future episodic promotions, including props for end-pages.

“We wanted these spots to feel photographic and expressive of the time, which was a big motivation for capturing the environments in-camera,” concludes Minkkinen. “We did rely on CG for certain shots, but by combining real elements with our CG strategically, we were able to keep the spots feeling organic.”

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