It’s tough to shock pest control pros, who are accustomed to spending most days up to their elbows in creepy crawlies. But trot out a hungry werewolf raiding a fridge, a ghost squatting in a man cave and a killer clown mixing cocktails, and even this seasoned worker needs a moment to compose himself.
That’s the premise of a new campaign for Clark Pest Control, a California-based company that turns away from house-sized bug tropes and leans into a supernatural twist for 30-second spots launching this week. Upshot: The folks at Clark can’t exorcise your demons, but they can handle spiders, termites, fleas and other terrestrial insects and critters.
The work comes from Hazy Mills Productions, a Hollywood firm co-founded by Todd Milliner and Will and Grace star Sean Hayes that—while best known for shows like Grimm, Hollywood Game Night and Hot in Cleveland—is branching out from TV programming into ads and marketing. The production company worked with Los Angeles media agency Nimmea Advertising on the campaign.
Clark, which has used a variety of creative approaches in recent years, including animation, was ready to try something different and wasn’t afraid to have fun with the premise around unwanted guests (even if those happen to be your intrusive family members).
“We wanted to reimagine an infestation and steer away from those larger-than-life pests,” said Paul Velten, Nimmea’s managing director. “We thought about all the people or things that could be pestering you and getting comfortable in your environment.”
Hint: Mother-in-law on a flamingo float in the backyard pool.
In prepping for the campaign, Velten watched a few decades’ worth of pest control ads, he said, deciding purposely to stay away from well worn images like 6-foot-tall cockroaches and workers as comic book superheroes.
The Clark technician had to be trustworthy, Velten said, but also needed a regular-guy appeal. And the ads would focus on the problem-solving process, rather than the employee himself.
“We wanted to keep it light, with a sense of humor and humility,” said Nicole Keefe, Clark’s director of marketing and advertising. “This can be a really stressful area for people, so we’re showing that we’ve got your back.”
Velten and Hazy Mills’ Milliner, longtime friends, decided to collaborate for the brand, drawing on the production company’s expertise from TV series, especially the supernatural hit Grimm. Milliner enlisted Barney Burman, Academy Award-winning special effects guru and lead makeup artist from that hit NBC show to handle the otherworldly characters. (Burman also sat in the makeup chair himself to play the leftover-loving werewolf).
“This let us flex our comedy muscles a bit,” Milliner said. “And we could reach into a bag where we have credibility and do an unexpected take on monsters.”
This is the first broadcast work from Hazy Mills, though the firm partnered with agency Bark Bark for an Orbitz digital song-and-dance campaign starring Randy Rainbow last year.
Hazy Mills execs, looking for more inroads into advertising and tapping its reps at talent agency WME, met with Droga5, Mother and McCann during a recent trip to New York.
“Storytelling exists now in so many more ways than when we first started the company,” Milliner said. “We’d like to bring our perspective and skill set to advertising. We’re not trying to take creative jobs, but we think we can be an add-on, especially with our ties to talent.”
The spots for Clark, a family-owned company that services California and Nevada, debut with targeted media buys (looking for Gen Y homeowners) on cable and network TV, digital, social media and programmatic video.
Campaign Title: “Supernatural Pests”
Agency: Nimmea Advertising
Agency Location: Hollywood, CA
Managing Director: Paul Velten
Account Supervisor: Tina Rawlins
Senior Account Manager: Josh Sloan
Content Producer: Amanda Joyce
Client: Clark Pest Control
VP of Operations: Robert Baker
Director of Marketing and Advertising: Nicole Keefe
Production Company: Hazy Mills
Director: Nick Peet
Director of Photography: John Frost
Executive Producers: Todd Milliner and Sean Hayes
Line Producers: Jeff Melnick and Mark Nasser
Editor: Mark Nasser
Special Effects Make-up: Barney Burman, B2FX
VFX: Jennifer Ngou
Sound Design: Nicholas Cochran
Music: Ron Wasserman