Bob Ackerman Cuts Joe Pytka's Gritty, Urban McDonald's Spot - Delivering A Compelling Cinematic-Style Story


The Colonie Editor Bob Ackerman Cuts Pytka’s New McDonald’s Spot

Last Updated: March 6, 2015 5:42 am GMT
(March 6, 2015) Burrell Communications Taps The Full Service Company’s Editorial, VFX And Finishing Services For

A Dramatic Spot That Gets To What’s At The Heart of An Inner-City Community

The Colonie editor, Bob Ackerman, and renowned director, Joe Pytka, recently paired up to create a dramatic spot for McDonald’s, out of Burrell Communications. Driven by realistic, gritty, cinematic style footage, the :60 commercial, entitled, ‘Good Things,’ tells the story of a group of African-American teenagers hanging out on dark inner city streets. At first glance it seems that they might have some questionable plans for the evening - However, the story arc soon reveals the group to be a force of optimism, hope and the shared spirit at the heart of their community.

“Visual storytelling can be a difficult balance between creating a cohesive story, and withholding information to create a compelling arc. I always try to find an intriguing way to open a spot, and then build from there,” says Ackerman. “Pytka never fails to provide an editor with a multitude of options - and this spot was no exception.”

Burrell Communications tapped the full range of The Colonie’s editorial, visual FX and finishing services for the commercial, enabling their team to provide the kind of efficient, seamless workflow needed for a quick turnaround. Footage was received on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and by midday Thursday Ackerman had a cut ready for the agency, and presented it to the client on Friday.

Tom Dernulc, the head The Colonie’s VFX department, created a number of visual elements that were integral to strengthening a few of the key points in the narrative. There were no intermediary shots of the final mural as it was being painted, so Dernulc supplemented the footage, ‘filling in’ the art work on a couple of shots, and recreating the skyline, so the mural could be shown in various stages of completion to create a more impactful final reveal.

Cut to Marvin Gaye’s iconic song, ‘Inner City Blues,’ the commercial follows the young people through desolate streets, past a wall with graffiti that reads, ‘no future.’ The group meets up and begins hatching a plan. Then, with spray cans in hand, they disperse, leaving the viewer to assume that they’ll be venting frustration and negative feelings with graffiti throughout the neighborhood.

The scenario takes an unexpected turn when the teenagers begin to paint uplifting words - like ‘joy,’ ‘hope,’ and ‘dreams,’ transforming building facades and dumpsters into artful canvases with positive messages. The group of young men put the finishing touches on a large mural of the city skyline with the word “love” above it. As they admire their work a friend arrives with breakfast from McDonald’s – and sharing the meal becomes part of the celebration of their achievement.

The commercial closes as daybreak comes, bathing the city in golden light as a father and son happen upon the mural. They smile, appreciating what these young people have created. The boy’s face appears in the center of a heart, and we see the McDonald’s arches in rainbow colors above the tag, ‘I’m Lovin’ It,’ and a link to, a McDonald’s website hosting the Youth Awards, which was established to recognize black teens who make a difference within their communities through vision, compassion and diligence.

“The storytelling of the edit, along with the powerful soundtrack of the Marvin classic, we knew we had something special. Another amazing fact is we hardly made any changes from Bob's initial cut. That says it all,” says Lewis Williams, CCO of Burrell Communications. "I have to applaud our client for allowing us to produce such an authentic idea. On reviewing the cut for the first time it brought me and the team to tears.”

Ackerman, who collaborated closely with Williams and the agency’s creative team, noted, “Lewis is a veteran ad man, who understands the value of a story. It’s one of the things that elevates this type of work and it is a privilege to be part of that.”

“The Burrell team is always generous with its trust, and the relationship we have built over the past couple years has led to some outstanding work… especially for my reel!” continues The Colonie editor and partner.

About The Colonie:

The Colonie is an award winning Chicago-based creative editorial, motion design, visual FX and finishing boutique with a seamless, full-service approach to creating spots and cross-platform content that engage, entertain, inform and move audiences. Our multi-disciplined collective of creative, technically skilled storytellers work as a creative partner with clients, following a shared vision - from rough-cut through completion – and consistently delivering a final product that exceeds expectations. A wide range of national and global clients, such as Nintendo, McDonald’s, Pepisco and Bayer, rely upon our accomplished team of talent to consistently deliver compelling creative content that elevates the viewer’s experience and connects them to brands. For more information about The Colonie and its services, visit, or contact executive producer Marry Caddy at 312-225-1234, or Sonia Blum or Hillary Herbst at Hilly Reps, 312.944.1100.


Product: McDonald’s

Title: “Good Things” :60

Type of Project: National Broadcast Spot

AGENCY/CLIENT: Burrell Communications / Chicago

CCO: Lewis Williams

Producer: Debra Dale

GCD: Rebecca Williams

CD/Write: Lisa Mconnell

ACD/Art Director: Winston Chueng

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Pytka Commercial Production Company / Los Angeles

Director: Joe Pytka

DP: Joe Pytka

Producer: Gretchen Siss

EDITORIAL COMPANY: The Colonie / Chicago

Creative Editor: Bob Ackerman

Finishing: Tom Dernulc

Executive Producer: Mary Caddy

VISUAL FX/ANIMATION Company: The Colonie / Chicago

COLOR CORRECTION: Filmworkers Club / Chicago

Color Grader: Michael Mazur


Mixer: Sam Fishkin

MUSIC LICENSING: Track: ‘Inner City Blues’

Performed by: Marvin Gaye


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