The Making of Deadpan Guy
The Deadpan Guy Campaign - Creative Marketing At a Whole New Level
Creative marketing campaigns are all the rage in today’s fast-paced, consumer-generated, and online-orientated world. Marketing campaigns, cannot solely rely on one medium anymore. You cannot just create one funny video and be done with it. You need to create memes that accompany it, come up with slogans and catchphrases, produce some merchandise, and you need to believe in your product or service more than anything else.
Luckily, today, with YouTube, SnapChat, Instagram and more make marketing campaigns more affordable, manageable and adaptable to today’s market which makes marketing itself so much more approachable and fun. And it’s the clever and funny marketing campaigns that go viral - Squatty Potty anyone? How about Old Spice? Or Poop Pourri? We can all benefit from taking risks and thinking more creatively. Next time inspiration strikes, don’t be afraid to put your brand out there in a wacky way. The REIZE guys certainly didn’t when they concocted their Deadpan Guy Campaign.
The best marketing campaigns that really resonate with consumers are the ones that are clearly as much for the consumer as it was for the marketers to create. That’s what is so special about the Deadpan Guy Campaign for REIZE energy drink. Here is a company created by two best friends from childhood, who love experiencing life, having a good time, meeting interesting people, and not spending a fortune.
Their values are represented in their product. They made it for them and thought, why not make it for others? The campaign has been in the same vein, they auditioned friends, got help from creatives looking to expand their horizons. With their infectious positivity and enthusiasm and humour, the REIZE guys created the Deadpan Guy, whose lack of enthusiasm - except when it comes to REIZE is unique, special and original. A nice first for energy drinks. Just like their product which they want you to ‘Drink Your Way’ they created a brand in their own image: fun, a little crazy but all in all it’s most flavoursome.
Some of the prevalent and effective jokes are delivered deadpan. Isn’t that the whole reason why The Office did so well both home in Europe and Stateside as well! Some of the best jokes land when delivered by a straight face.
The concept of the Deadpan Guy campaign was to film this guy, who did not react to anything. Never showed emotions, such as excitement, fear, or joy. Not until he experiences REIZE. The guys try everything to make him feel something - skydiving, bungee jumping, race car driving, jet packing, etc. - but it’s not until he tastes his first REIZE that he actually reacts to something and delivers his signature line with eyebrow raise: “Most flavoursome”. While being narrated by a Morgan Freeman impersonator of course.
So the guys had their concept, their tagline, all they needed was the actor.
The Deadpan Guy
The REIZE guys were inundated with many applications for the role, which they trimmed down to four potential Deadpan guys. The guy they chose was not their first choice. They had actually decided on another actor for the role, who ended up falling through. These things happen in show business, but it ended up being huge blessing in disguise as the guy who ended up being the real Deadpan Guy was the prize in the end - he was made for the role. Marty - co-founder and creator of REIZE - himself described Deadpan Guy as being “awesome to work with, super helpful with everything that needed doing around the film set and delivered an amazing performance during the extreme activities which we're not sure if the other guy would have been able to do!”
Deadpan Guy really did do all of those things they show in the video without making any expression. He got through skydiving and bungee jumping without so much as a smirk. Maybe the real Deadpan Guy isn’t actually acting and does not experience emotions like the majority of humans do. Or he’s just that good at pretending to not have a good time.
Now they had the guy, they had to plan their filming and organise their events. This is a campaign that the owners of the company were very much involved in. This is a startup and it’s not like they were going to sit on the sidelines while Deadpan Guy had all the fun. Nope, the REIZE guys were up for anything, which made for an interesting campaign.
It’s not surprising when a group of friends and creatives get together that they have an amazing time. Throw in some adrenaline-fuelled activities and a few sachets of REIZE and you know these guys had an incredible experience filming this campaign.
As you can see from the video, they went bungee jumping, skydiving, jetpacking, rally car driving and more. Hearing the guys talk about all the laughs from the few weeks they filmed everything - you just know that it was an amazing experience!
Deadpan Guy had never been bungee jumping before, so to prepare himself for the experience - and get used to keeping his face straight as possible - he flew himself up to the Gold Coast a day before the rest of the crew - Mark the cameraman and Marty - flew up to do the shooting. Deadpan Guy did a practise jump the first day to get confident and then did three jumps in about an hour the day of the shooting. Think about that for a second. Four jumps. Three in around an hour. All without freaking out, or screaming, or smiling. Feeling yourself fall towards the Earth while a rope is strapped to your ankles and then the inevitable yank back up to the sky and not revealing any kind of facial expression. No emotion or anything. Truly giving more credence to the theory that Deadpan Guy is not acting, just very unexcitable.
Or maybe, you’re concluding that he must have messed up on his first jump, or the camera fell, or it just didn’t look right, and that’s why he had to redo the jumps twice on the day of shooting. Well think again.
After his first jump wearing the GoPro, he said "I think I got it guys", but Marty was adamant that they wanted to get as many takes as possible in the short time that they had allotted to jumping. So, instead of reviewing the footage, Marty sent poor Deadpan Guy straight back up again and again until the guys that run the place said he should get a proper rest. No need to cause a concussion after all!
During the demanded rest period, they reviewed the footage and low and behold, it was unanimously agreed that the first jump was actually the best footage and the footage that ended up in the campaign! After that, Deadpan Guy got the rest of the afternoon off and Marty had a go at bungee-jumping - his first time also. Mark was offered as well, but he grabbed his equipment and ran off towards the car faster than a cut snake. Perhaps in a poetic turn of events, Deadpan Guy was fine after his multiple jumps, but Marty however, was not. In the days after he experienced headaches and ended up getting a CT scan to make sure everything was OK, which of course it was! The headaches lasted a couple of months and as he says: ‘I'll never bungee again!’
The very next day, the crew travelled to Wollongong to up their game and go skydiving. Unlike the bungee jumping, the crew could only organise one jump, so the pressure was on for Deadpan Guy to deliver as he wasn’t going to get a second chance. Marty recalls telling Deadpan Guy “no pressure mate, but we don’t have enough money to send the plane and cameras up for a second take, so you’ve only got one shot!”. Keep in mind this was also Deadpan Guy’s first ever time skydiving and he’s just been told he needs to do it with a straight face.
Maybe to distract him from the pressure, Marty came up with a plan. When they arrived, Mark excused himself to grab something light for breakfast and Marty - the cheeky devil that he is - turned to Deadpan Guy and Steve, the co-founder of REIZE, with a plan: "that little ***** piked out of a free bungee yesterday, let's throw him out of the plane today!" or words to that effect. Steve was a bit worried, "I don't know how well you know Mark, but if he doesn't take it well he might sue us".
Clearly Steve was not clued in on the events in Gold Coast, but Marty assured him it would all be alright. He even got all of the skydiving staff in on the secret and then Mark came back, signed the waivers, got kitted up and they all headed off with Mark completely oblivious to the subterfuge afoot - not even questioning his gear. The whole time Mark was expecting to be going up on the plane with a tandem skydiver on his back for safety because the door would be opened, and he would get the footage and then return to the airport to land.
Deadpan Guy Jumped, Marty jumped, and then Mark had his camera snatched from his hand and was given about four seconds notice that he was about to jump too. Deadpan Guy nailed his part, and Mark probably wet himself but loved it and did not sue... at least not yet anyway.
The shooting didn’t finish with the extreme activities though. Marty, Steve, Deadpan Guy and the rest of the team have spent the past few months perfecting their videos in anticipation of the launch. Creating not just one fun video, with a catchy song, Morgan Freeman impersonator, and Deadpan Guy’s deadpan expression. A studio was hired where they could flesh out the Deadpan character. Dress him up in party attire, sombreros, and tuxedo boxers - perfect ingredients for memes and gifs. Also, Steve got to embrace his inner King Kong and beautifully captured the essence of a gorilla in the full-length costume - the coconuts were also a nice touch.
The Deadpan Guy campaign launched recently and as mentioned before the REIZE guys did not stop with one video. They have been teasing the release for months on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter; they created memes and gifs, and excellent taglines; they rallied their fans and customers to join their Thunderclap campaign which lets them all release a link to the Deadpan Guy video on their social media channels at the same time; their website redesign has a section devoted to Deadpan Guy and the inclusion of a counter to make Deadpan Guy smile on your member login page is so fun. The whole rollout has been extremely user-friendly and customer-focused. Afterall, a campaign will fall flat on its face if it doesn’t resonate with the consumer. The REIZE guys don’t just want to market and sell their product - they wouldn’t be a business if they didn’t - but they genuinely want to entertain their customers, they want to amuse, impress and have a good time themselves. They want to create their own way of marketing, in their own style, and they have.
The marketing world is changing, yet in some ways it remains the same. We still rely on clever phrase and quips to catch consumers attention. It’s just that today, there are so many different ways to be clever and funny and catch a consumer’s eye. The REIZE guys did not put their eggs all in one basket. With careful planning, talent sourcing, diligent research, and a hell of a lot of fun, they created a campaign that is all theirs. Here’s to REIZE and Deadpan Guy! They seriously are most flavoursome.