Price Chopper Returns To Galaxy 61 To Create A Pair of FX-Driven Holiday Spots

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Price Chopper recently returned to

Galaxy 61

to design and execute a campaign that kicked off the season with a pair of visually enticing spots to drive sales and position the supermarket retail chain’s brand just right for the holidays.

For the first spot,

‘Price Chopper 4X Gift Card,’

Galaxy 61 created a photo-realistic silver gift box, adorned with Christmas ornaments and tied with a bright red ribbon - which unfurls as the box opens. A voiceover announces Price Chopper’s holiday offers, which include 4X the Fuel AdvantEdge discount on every gift card customers buy from a select group of participating retailers that included GAP, Lowe’s, Sears, Kohls, and ToysRUs.

Johnson created a series of animated elements – from gift boxes, animated tags and

ornaments to 3D logos with ribbons - that provide visual interest and a cohesive bridge throughout the spot – which he turned around in seven days.

The second :30 spot,

'Holiday Recipes,'introduces an interactive element to the campaign, inviting customers to access a treasure trove of Price Chopper’s best recipes for the holidays – some featuring special sale prices for the ingredients - all accessible by simply clicking on the Pinterest logo on Price Chopper’s homepage. Three distinct versions of the spot were created – and the package was delivered in seven days.

Since Price Chopper Director of Creative Services John Akots re-connected with the one-stop animation/CGI/editorial and finishing boutique (They partnered in 2007 to create the store’s 75th Anniversary campaign), Johnson and his team have honed their skills to meet the challenge of delivering a steady flow of cost-effective and innovate commercials that communicate its ever-changing sales to customers with visuals that get their attention and drive them to the store. Seven years and over 150 commercials later, Johnson credits the collaborative relationship he has built with the retailer with Galaxy 61’s ability to evolve the supermarket’s brand by providing a one-stop creative resource that consistently delivers fresh, visually engaging spots that push the envelope.

“The animated gift box created for the opening of ‘4X Gift Card’ was the inspiration for the 2nd spot’s iconic recipe box, which then highlights our ever-growing focus on digital/social marketing by featuring holiday Pinterest recipes,” says Akots. “The commercial also fits right into the flexible, modular, fast and affordable approach that creative consultant partners Roman Mayer and Murray Skurnik, Doug Johnson and I have developed over the years.”

While most of Price Chopper’s spots were designed to drive customers to stores – the addition of the Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook logos at the end of each recipe spot are also a nod to its increasing presence in the digital/social realm.

“Crafting comedic, live-action mood driven spot content for a retailer is standard

fare,” says Johnson. “The challenge with Price Chopper lies in designing and executing the segments of the spots that advertise the weekly sales and special offers, while maintaining agency-level quality that draws in viewers and drives them to the store. Price Chopper (supermarket) work is unlike any other work. First, you have to understand the language and all the details that need to be communicated. Only then can you deliver on the tight deadlines and the customized high quality work required for their promotions.”

“Galaxy 61 is structured to be a nimble creative resource, with the level of expertise needed to work with modest budgets and still delivers complex, compelling FX-driven spots and logos that consistently exceed our clients’ expectations,” says Johnson.

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish once you get in that groove, build that relationship ‘shorthand’ with talented, experienced outside partners and a strong internal staff” “It’s a pretty powerful team.” says Akots.

“Working with a client on an ongoing basis also allows us to think ahead, and design assets so that they are re-usable, which is key for a retailer like Price Chopper,” says Johnson. “I always make a point to wrangle something creatively satisfying out of every project, no matter how simple it is – and bring the full scope of my experience as an animator, designed, and FX artist to each spot.”

John Akots brings decades of experience working in the supermarket arena, and his skill as a creative director has been instrumental to the success of the Price Chopper campaign over the last six-years. He helms each spot, collaborating closely with Doug Johnson, as well as Roman Mayer and Murray Skurnik, who also bring extensive supermarket experience to the table from storyboards, to scripts, to creative direction.

As Akot's and Johnson’s collaborative relationship grew so did the level of trust, and a broader range of Galaxy 61’s capabilities were tapped, including editing and sound.

“The original board for the “4X Gift Card’ spot was a bit frenetic, so we did a lot of adjusting during the editorial process. The retail partners provided the artwork for the gift cards, and were very specific about how the cards were to be presented,” says Johnson. “Each card had to be the exact same size, and appear for precisely the same amount of time.”

The key to meeting the technical challenges of these spots was to keep things simple and render the elements quickly and efficiently. Johnson deviated from his usual practice of rendering out every conceivable layer of information in 3D (reflections, refractions, shadows, masks, etc.) and then creating the final look by compositing them together in After Effects. While that approach affords more flexibility at the last minute it results in much longer render times on both ends. Instead he created most of the FX ‘in-camera,’ which required minimal treatment - mostly color correction and animated transitions - at the compositing stage, saving time and money.

“While effective, the ‘in-camera’ approach posed another challenge, as the client was used to getting that first look at a proof within a day of starting,” says Johnson. “Having built a level of trust over the years, they were patient – and, considering the level of realism we achieved, we turned things around very quickly – and it gave me the opportunity to introduce a level of realistic renders to the Price Chopper campaign which really took the production value to the next level.”

Galaxy 61 used a mix of equipment to create the package, including After Effects CS6 running on Windows 7 X64 on a Mac Pro with Bootcamp, Maya 2011 and rendered on bespoke 4X gigabit network with 88 cores.

About Galaxy 61:

Galaxy 61

crafts captivating creative content that goes way beyond just expanding brand awareness to consistently deliver inventive, evocative, and even spellbinding visual stories.

A compact and streamline boutique by design, we offer a seamless creative resource that can take the reins of a project from concept, design, animation, character development, motion graphics, FX print, and sound design - right through basic editing and compositing to completion.

The ultimate creative partner, Galaxy 61 is a mash-up of experience, raw talent, wit, ingenuity, originality - merging art and technology to create unforgettable brand experiences for digital and traditional platforms.

For additional information about Galaxy 61 contact Doug Johnson at 718.965.0965,

, or visit

Credits: Title: ‘4X Gift Cards’ :30 ‘Recipe Box; :30 (3 versions)

Link: 4X gift cards

Holiday Recipes:

Client: Price Chopper Creative Director: John Akots Co-Creative Consultants: Roman Mayer, Murray Skurnik

Production Company: Epix Films, Malibu

VFX/Animation Company: Galaxy 61/NY Designer: Doug Johnson Modeler: Jasper Johnson

Editing Company: Galaxy 61/NY Editor: Doug Johnson

Audio Company: POP Sound/Santa Monica Mixer: Zac Fischer Executive Producer: Erin Reilly Producer: Jennifer Bowman

Stock Music Company: APM Music