We seldom get to play with local ad agencies, so when we were hired to collaborate with local artists and promote something we really love - we jumped with all our might. LAIKAhouse_CoverOregon1

Cover Oregon released the fourth spot in its "Long Live Oregonians” campaign to educate Oregonians about the Affordable Care Act. A dry subject lined with political potholes for sure, but NORTH, Portland branding and advertising agency, is changing that perception and hitting the target right in the ear.

The smart people of NORTH teamed together artist Jill Dryer (DREAM Rock Project), musician Dave Depper (Fruit Bats, Menomena, Loch Lomond) and us, world-renowned animation studio. Ta da.

Our Director Aaron Sorenson joined Jill and Dave to share more about the animation style and mixing specialties for an important cause and the state they love.

Q: Why do you think these styles work so harmoniously together?

Aaron: Jill's style has so much charm and whimsy and often a bit of the surreal. It just seemed so perfect for this spot because it has so much warmth and humor built into it just draws you in. Jill's work also has a broad appeal that allows viewers to see themselves in the characters which is what we wanted. Pairing her illustrations with Dave’s music combined to make this trippy 1970's vibe that we all fell in love with. We just ran with it and kept pushing that aesthetic throughout.

Jill: I think Dave and I have a similar bent - not flashy or over-produced - kind of like a well-worn pair of skinny jeans.  Hehe.

Dave: The animation style is colorful and playful, and those were two qualities I was definitely trying to put across in my tune. It works perfectly!


Q: Why was animation the perfect medium to use to create this special spot?

Aaron: Animation was natural because of the concept, Oregonians literally flying with their own wings. We really took advantage of what animation does best in making these sort of crazy ideas seems believable or at least charming and fun. It's hard to have a farmer fly off on a giant carrot in live action.

Q: Dave, have you ever been animated before and does your guitar really have wings?

Dave: First-timer for sure! And yes, my guitar really does have wings. You wouldn't believe what I had to bid on eBay to score that sucker.

Q: Jill, did you meet Dave before you drew him?

Jill: I was given a few photos and the description that he is one of those amazing musicians that can play every instrument you can think of, has a musical pedigree as long as time, is ridiculously talented and so very likeable.  So I was instantly a fan.

Q: What challenges/joys did you face during production?

Aaron: The biggest challenge was figuring out how we wanted to tell this story and the overall flow. We knew from the start it wanted to be kind of groovy and retro but the humor really evolved over time, trying to include crazier ways to have people sprout "wings" and adding little funny moments that you might not notice the first time you watch the spot.

I was always excited to see what the animators came up with and the see how they solved some tricky problems, like how does a kayak paddle turn into butterfly wings?


Q: Does this educational endeavor have any special or significant meaning for you?

Jill: Absolutely.  My husband and I are both freelance creatives who are now buying our own health insurance for the first time in many years (after being on payroll, etc.).  We're happy to see the healthcare system headed in a positive direction and available to everyone.

Dave: Certainly. Cover Oregon is going to be such an amazing resource for so many people in Oregon that I didn't think twice about working with them.

Q: Why do you love Oregon?

Aaron: I love the mix or urban and rural, artsy and pragmatic, and of course, its natural beauty. It helps to love the rain, too.

Jill: LOVE it.  It's full of endless natural beauty in every corner, kind-hearted people, creative thinking and I feel really inspired here.

Dave: Duh! There are so many things to love about Oregon, but the first thing that comes to my mind is its natural beauty. I can't think of another state that contains so many unique environments mingling with each other. Within an hour or two of Portland alone you have snowy mountains, desert, one of the largest rivers on the continent, temperate rainforest, lush farmland, dense evergreen forests, and the Pacific Ocean. Amazing!


Q: What’s on next on the horizon for you?

Aaron: I just finished directing the stop-motion animation on the latest Planters Mr. Peanut campaign, Power of the Peanut, and am working on a few 2D projects.

Jill: I've written a rock musical called DREAM, that's going to be performed by a local arts high school in January - so I'm gearing up for that.  I can't wait to see the kids bring it to life.  Definitely some serious ‘70s influence and I'm hoping we land somewhere between Schoolhouse Rock and The Wiz.

Dave: I've been working very hard for the past year and a half on my first solo record, which is tantalizingly close to being finished. That's taking up most of my time and creative energy lately and I'm REALLY excited about it.

I play in a couple of bands - I'll be going on a five-week US tour with Menomena starting at the end of September, and then playing a run of Pacific Northwest dates with the Fruit Bats, celebrating the 10th birthday of their album "Mouthfuls." And my old band Norfolk & Western is going to be playing a reunion show just before Thanksgiving. All in all, a very busy Fall awaits!


A note of thanks to Jill. She sent our Producer Jenny Grayson and Aaron a handmade gift to bring the ocean to our hearts.