Bob's achieved industry guru status when it comes to directing children. His most virulent ads, filmed for Trigon health insurance, have been blogged and reblogged worldwide and I'll admit that even after bumping into them in every cranny of the internet, I'm still not done watching. As a matter of fact, I'm here to continue spreading them. The kids are just that funny.
...I trust the children and the children trust me.
The secret to his literal "commercial success", says Ebel, is that he
trusts the children, and the children trust him. It's a nice enough sentiment and time tested notion but where the idea becomes craft is in the ad industry's understanding that we, the consumer, want to join in and trust those precocious little people too.
Marketers have been disarming us with children since the beginning of the Ad Age (Mikey, Life Cereal), but Ebel's talent for getting us to love his pitch comes in creating finely balanced and very clever juxtapositions that dangle us on the edge of that "circle of trust" he brags about.
What's his trick? Within the world of the Trigon commercials shown below, the fact that the not-so-ingenue is selling a product is laid bare and the children themselves seem to be in on the game. You'll even find one little one acknowledging his stage by breaking eye contact with his audience, glancing off-camera at least once during the long take. This is a very self-aware bunch and there's no attempt to mask the fact that what's going on here is a Sell, using bits of recognizable dialog borrowed from a very adult world. When one of the little girls lapses into a fit of giggles, her costar's dour expression, just in case we've lost sight of what really needs to transpire in the ad's 30 seconds, reminds her and us, "We're doing business here."
We watch, understanding that we're entering a deal. We'll agree to listen to your obvious pitch, Trigon, as long as we're all in on the joke delivered by those precocious little minxes. Well done.
These two ads speak volumes in little voices. For your enjoyment, I'm including a link to the entire playlist.