LOS ANGELES—A Common Thread director, Sheldon Candis, profiles the “greatness” of Chicago entrepreneurs, Autumn and Brian Merritt, in a new national campaign for Honda.
The uplifting piece describes how the couple channeled their personal passion into their boutique fashion line, Sir & Madame, and now are giving back by mentoring young artists and designers. The story is wrapped around scenes of the Merritts driving a Civic through their historic Hyde Park neighborhood and past familiar Chicago landmarks. “For us, greatness is about loving what you do,” says Autumn, “and taking risks to do what you love.”
Candis directs the campaign with a light touch and a discerning eye that brings out the personalities of his subjects. The Merritts are likeable and real. The car is integrated into the story in the best way possible, naturally. “Honda wanted a real-life experience,” the director notes. “They wanted to tell the story of an exceptional family who are the embodiment of the American Dream.”
While Candis assumes a documentary approach, he applies a unique and inventive visual style combined with a sense of fun that lifts the campaign above simple slice-of-life representation. He calls the results “cinematic-documentary.” “I pair real emotions with cinematic influences,” he explains. “I wanted this piece to feel cinematic and stylish, while capturing the genuine emotion of the human condition. My ultimate goal is to bring visceral emotion to advertising... What you feel in my films... What you feel in my documentaries...”
Candis rose to notoriety when his debut feature LUV premiered to glowing reviews at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival (where it was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize). A coming-of-age drama about a boy growing up in an atmosphere of gun violence, LUV has been followed by a string of impressive episodic television and documentary projects, all centered on deeply personal and emotional storytelling. “I’m fortunate that my work in advertising has allowed me to continue to do what I love,” Candis says. “I’m a storyteller.”
Client: American Honda Motor Co.
Agency: Muse, Culver City, Ca. Jo Muse, Chief Creative Officer; Shelley Yamane, President; Michael James McCallum, V.P./Creative Director; Will Campbell, President/Quantasy; Vanessa MacAdam, Executive Producer.
Production: A Common Thread. Sheldon Candis, Director. J.P. McMahon and Tristan Drew, Executive Producers; Leornardo Veras, Line Producer; Michelle Tocase, Production Manager; Michael Fitzmaurice, Director of Photography.
Editorial: Muse Studios.