One of the most memorable ads from this year’s Super Bowl was created by a former Gwinnett County resident who offered a proud shoutout to his alma mater for some 100 million viewers.
In fact, Brookwood High alum Jason Kreher this year had a hand in two Super Bowl ads that generated worldwide attention, which he pointed out is exactly what he and his clients were seeking.
“All of them got conversation, which I think is the main point,” said the award-winning Kreher, who served as creative director for ads touting Irish Spring soap and crypto currency exchange company CoinBase. “They’ve been received very well, but they also had people that hated them and think they’re the worst ads of all time.
“That’s professionally one of my goals — you want to make something that’s not for everybody, but most people either love it or hate it, and I got mostly love for both of these but there were plenty of detractors, which is OK. The worst thing you can do during the Super Bowl is be ignored, and neither one was ignored. And it’s nice when people who look at that stuff for a living like it, too.”
AdWeek rated both commercials as two of the top 10 from Sunday’s Super Bowl, an event that these days draws millions of viewers for the advertisements alone. The Irish Spring ad ranked No. 7 while the CoinBase spot was rated No. 1.
“This year’s offbeat spot took us to a deeply unsettling place — and we loved it,” wrote Ad Week’s Shannon Miller of the Irish Spring commercial. “For its Super Bowl debut, Irish Spring welcomed viewers to a stink-banishing cult. The retro-style rendering takes the creepy story back to some classic Irish Spring advertising circa the 1970s, marrying a deep-cut knowledge of the brand with multiple generations of horror films like 1973’s ‘The Wicker Man’ and 2019’s ‘Midsommar.’”
In the 30-second commercial touting Irish Spring (which carried the tagline “Smell from a Nice-Smelling Place”), the main character appears before a community of stunningly clean folks dressed in his sweaty gym gear, including a Brookwood Broncos T-shirt that has clearly seen better days.
“When you’re a creative director for a shoot like this, all you do is make decisions,” said Kreher, who said the ad was shot in late December in Mexico. “There are 500,000 decisions to make with a bunch of people standing there ready to go. “You’re talking to these super-talented artists about how to bring this weird vision to life. The big one for me was showing the main guy, who had to look different from villagers.
“He had to be sweaty and gross and smell bad because he just came from the gym. Visually we needed to get across that these people in this village are clean and smell good and this guy was wearing a shirt you’d wear to the gym. I didn’t want to do a plain, gray T-shirt because that’s too obvious.”
Kreher, who graduated from the University of Georgia in 2000 with a degree in journalism, said he contacted Brookwood principal William Bo Ford to make sure it was OK to use the school logo.
“Jason reached out to me in late November and basically said he was producing a Super Bowl commercial — he couldn’t tell me what it was at the time — and said there was a scene where they needed a sports or school logo and he said he’d love to be able to use Brookwood’s,” said Ford. “I told him that as long as it was appropriate for a high school, absolutely.”
Ford saw a “teaser” of the ad on YouTube and had maintained contact with Kreher, but he said he had no knowledge about when the commercial would run.
“I was on the edge of my seat waiting for it,” he said. “I had no idea when it was coming. I got to see it when everybody else did.”
The school got a lot of attention as a result of the ad, the majority of which Ford — who has been at Brookwood for 15 years — said was extremely positive.
“We loved it,” he said. “It’s created a ton of positive press and a ton of folks were proud and I just absolutely love it. It was a great opportunity for us and we’re glad Jason thought of his time here at Brookwood … We love it when our alumni reaches back out and wants to remember their time here.”
Now living in Portland, Oregon, with his husband Eirik and 3-year-old son Rex, Kreher is no stranger to the big-time advertising industry, having worked on spots for Coca-Cola, KFC, Old Spice, Weight Watchers and Jaguar, to name but a few in his long career. He was selected by AdWeek as one of the top 30 most innovative people in media in 2015 and his work is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.
Kreher, who in 2015 created a Weight Watchers ad that ran during the Super Bowl, said he was pleased with both the presentation and reaction to the Irish Spring ad.
“I’m so happy with it,” said Kreher, who in 2017 received the UGA Henry W. Grady Mid-Career Alumni Award. “My clients were genuinely brave and awesome and unbelievable. It pushed them a little bit, but it’s been received so well that I think they’re over the hump.”
Making a commercial that will be memorable amid the onslaught of content that the Super Bowl affords, Kreher said he did feel a little extra duress knowing his work would be viewed by millions upon millions.
“Everything that I create, I have to keep the audience in mind — who you’re talking to and what you want out of them,” he said. “. I think there’s more attention on Super Bowl ads because there are so many people and it’s really hard to appeal to the broadest number of people…When you’ve got to reach 100 million people all watching at the same time that puts a little bit of pressure on it.
“I’m pretty tired, as I think a lot of people are, of the same-old Super Bowl commercial where you run a cheesy joke and put 30 celebrities in there and something explodes — it all feels like it’s been done 100 times before. With the Irish Spring ad, we were a lot quieter but a lot weirder … we went pretty dark on this one, which got it a lot of attention and stood out from the rest.”
Also a published author, Kreher said he’s now writing a book about creativity and is preparing a documentary (on an undisclosed subject). For more information, visit www.jasonkreher.com.