(Denver, CO - March 2, 2006) Award-winning creative digital studio !mpossible Pictures created the broadcast campaign for "The Ultimate Coffeehouse Crossword Challenge," a "clue-driven" collaboration sponsored by Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX), The New York Times and the Discovery Times Channel.
Beginning February 19 and running for six consecutive Sundays, the contest invites puzzlers to compete in specially created crossword puzzles by Will Shortz, the celebrated New York Times' puzzle guru recently profiled in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival short film, Wordplay. The special puzzles can be found only in Starbucks' in-store copies of the newspaper, while promos and clues are broadcast on the Discovery Times Channel. The final puzzle in the series kicks off a virtual treasure hunt, with one champion puzzler winning Starbucks coffee for life.
"We went to !mpossible Pictures with a tall order - marry three great brands in a completely unique way. Joel Pilger and Steve Urbano and the creative team at !mpossible Pictures really impressed us with their ability to deliver high quality creative, helping us take this partnership to a new level," said Mary Clare Baquet, Vice President of Discovery Times Channel Marketing.
Starbucks, a proven leader in innovative marketing, encourages its broad and diverse customer base to attempt the coffeehouse-themed puzzles with promotional spots on the Discovery Times Channel. The "hand-drawn" :30 spots will promote "The Ultimate Coffeehouse Crossword Challenge" and weekly :15 vignettes will air Sundays with clues to help puzzlers solve that week's crossword. Likewise, The New York Times will run several advertisements to support the launch and continue throughout the duration of the promotion. Starbucks also will feature the promotion prominently in-store with "The Ultimate Coffeehouse Crossword Challenge" signage.
!mpossible Pictures was approached by Discovery Times to provide turnkey creative, production and postproduction services for the campaign. VP/Director Steve Urbano and his team delivered a comprehensive package, which uses a rich blend of live-action, graphics and animation, and features Shortz in a colorful "home" setting against a white cyc as he speaks directly to viewers and interacts with props that are relevant to the puzzle clues.
"!mpossible Pictures had a unique creative challenge, to take world-renowned crossword puzzle editor Will [Shortz], and make him a dynamic on-camera personality. Steve [Urbano] had a vision from the beginning to step inside Will's mind," said Garnsey Sloan, Supervising Producer for Discovery Times Channel. "Will looks brilliant on camera and the clues and crossword secrets are fun to watch."
"The idea was to give viewers a glimpse into Will Shortz's mind," explains Urbano. "We created a set with a stylized and playful look to showcase Will [Shortz], and since he's such an eloquent speaker, we recorded his clever delivery as a voiceover and married it with visuals from the shoot. This style enabled me to focus on his performance with props and graphics. Will [Shortz] was great to work with and it was a lot of fun."
For the "The Ultimate Coffeehouse Crossword Challenge" promo spots, Wieden + Kennedy, ad agency for Starbucks, contributed their brand expertise in a collaborative effort with !mpossible to design and execute the spots. !mpossible's VFX Artist, Hector Espinosa, was responsible for importing agency-commissioned illustrations and then performing animation and finishing within Discreet Flame.
Located in the heart of Lower Downtown Denver, leading creative digital studio !mpossible Pictures produces broadcast design and television commercials for network television and advertising clients. The company of directors and artists specializes in tirelessly guiding their clients through a unique process to realize their most ambitious visions. Services include full creative turnkey production with specialties in broadcast design, CGI/animation, editorial, visual effects, and compositing utilizing state-of-the-art tools like Discreet Flame, Discreet Smoke and Softimage XSI.
!mpossible Pictures has produced award-winning work for clients such as Disney, Universal Studios, Discovery Channel, The National Geographic Channel, DISH Network, Ford, Dupont, and Western Union. In addition to past Emmys, Clios, Addys and Art Directors awards, the artists of !mpossible Pictures were most recently honored with three national BDA Awards for their work for Altitude Network and Frontier Airlines.
The Discovery Times Channel
The Discovery Times Channel (www.discovery.com/times) combines the journalistic authority of The New York Times with the programming excellence of Discovery Communications to bring viewers provocative, engaging and relevant documentary series and specials about the events and ideas shaping our times. The network has won multiple industry honors for its breakthrough programming, including an Emmy, an Overseas Press Club Award, three National Headliner Awards, a BANFF Rockie Award, and has had a film selected for competition at the Sundance Film Festival. Available to more than 35 million subscribers in the United States, the Discovery Times Channel is a joint venture between The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT) and Discovery Communications, Inc., the leading global real-world media and entertainment company.
Discovery Times Channel:
Vivian Schiller: EVP, General Manager, Discovery Times Channel
Nellie Ryan: Marketing Manager
Mary Clare Baquet: Vice President, Marketing
Garnsey Sloan: Supervising Producer, Marketing
Mark Allen: Supervising Producer, Production
Discovery Times Channel PR Contact:
Matt Katzive, (240) 662-2942, Matt_Katzive@Discovery.com
Production/Editorial/VFX Company: !mpossible Pictures/Denver, CO
Director: Steve Urbano
DP: Nick Vilani
Executive Producer: Joel Pilger
Production Coordinator: Emily Crenshaw
VFX Artist: Hector Espinosa
Discreet Editor: Brian Eloe
Design/Graphics: Heather Arment
Hardware and Software: Autodesk Discreet Flame and Discreet Smoke, Adobe After Effects and Photoshop
Music & Sound Design Company: Coupe Studios/Boulder, CO
Agency for promo spots: Wieden + Kennedy/Portland
Creative Director: Steve Barry
Art Director: Dana Bruington
Copywriter: Ginger Robinson
Illustrator: Chanda Helzer
!mpossible Pictures is located at 1617 Wazee Street, Denver, CO 80202.