The Colonie's Bob Ackerman & Burrell Partner of Walmart Back-to-School Spot, 'Let's Get It Started"

The Agency Showcases a Community Coming Together on the First Day of the New School Year with An Emotional and Uplifting Visually-Driven Story Directed by The Malloy Brothers
Publish date:

Burrell Communications’ new spot for Walmart taps SuperPrime’s lauded directorial duo, The Malloys, and captures the excitement of the approaching first day of school with The Black Eyed Peas' track, ‘Let’s Get Started.’ The Colonie's veteran editor, Bob Ackerman, was given the enviable task of shaping a wealth of stunning footage into a captivating visual story.

The agency’s broadcast campaign shows parents how, with a few clicks of the retailer’s app, free same day pickup makes shopping for school supplies hassle-free.

“As editing gigs go, working with this amazing directing duo and the talented team at Burrell is as good as it gets,” says Ackerman.

Ackerman cut the spots on the Avid Media Composer, weaving the brand’s message into a visual story that evokes a range of emotion, without the aid of dialogue or voiceover. The Black Eyed Peas’ song ‘Let’s Get It Started’ provided the editor with a driving beat that set the pace and uplifting feel of the commercial.

“I was thrilled that The Malloys were involved in the edit from the get-go,” says Ackerman. “Brendan was instrumental in carving out moments that were real and without pretense. Getting the directors’ point of view and expertise throughout the editorial process helped us craft an extraordinary spot.”

“We had a great storyline and great directors. But Bob, as usual, delivered a great editorial story,” says Williams. “He has an eye and ear for blending performances with key musical moments to pull the audience in and make them a part of the story.”

The commercial opens with a shot of a city skyline and then cuts to a businessman in his office perusing the Walmart app on his mobile phone. He smiles as he sees a backpack that his son would love and adds the item to his ‘same-day pickup’ order. A cross-section of fathers from different walks of life follow suit. After work, each dad heads to Walmart where their orders are ready and waiting at the Pick-Up counter.

The spots’ storyline culminates with a large group of mothers and father gathered outside of an elementary school, encouraging their children with cheers of support. The chorus, “Let’s Get It Started” says it all, as the psyched-up kids make their way through the enthusiastic crowd. A touching reaction shot from one of the boys looking back at his supportive community closes the commercial. 

“Working with Lewis Williams, Burrell’s CCO, is always rewarding. He never loses sight of the story, and trusts that the agency's team, as well as everyone at the Colonie, are relentlessly pushing to make the spot everything it can be,” says Ackerman. 

Best known for its award-winning editorial services, The Colonie is also home to an accomplished in-house team of VFX and motion graphics talent, providing a full roster of high-end postproduction services under one roof.  

The Chicago-based company’s senior VFX artist Tom Dernulc enhanced the location around the school to make it more lively and attractive, adding greenery and cleaning up some of the grittier aspects of the location. He and his team also bulked up the crowd scenes, significantly augmenting the plates that were originally shot. The effects were created using a mix of tools, including Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects and Flame Premium.

“It’s always exciting to take elements from a scene and use them in ways that elevate the storytelling. The client wanted a larger crowd in front of the school,” says Dernulc. “It’s not just about making it work technically, it’s about finding the heart in the scene and making it feel right.”

“ACD, Carl Koestner. last worked with The Colonie on the Joe Pytka helmed McDonald’s spot ‘Late Night,’ and CD, Lisa McConnell, previously worked with us on a couple of Toyota campaigns,” says Colonie EP Mary Caddy. “The agency’s creative team brought the same strong point of view and persistent pursuit of excellence to this project.”

“My initial edit of the Black Eyed Peas’ track. ‘Let’s Get it Started’ was good but Lisa had an idea of how the song should start and how it should build thematically to the conclusion of the spot. She and sound designer Ian Scott of Chicago Recording Company delivered a final mix that works both musically and emotionally,” says Ackerman.


Client: Walmart

Title: “Let’s Get It Started”   (:60, :30, :15)

Type: Broadcast Commercials

AGENCY: Burrell Communications / Chicago

CCO: Lewis Williams

Executive Producer: Shirley Portee 

CD: Lisa McConnell

ACD: Carl Koestner


Director: The Malloys

DP: Salvatore Totino

Producer: Donald Carr

EDITORIAL COMPANY: The Colonie / Chicago

Creative Editor: Bob Ackerman

Assistant Editor: Graham Chapman                                                     

Finishing: Tom Dernulc                                                               

Executive Producer: Mary Caddy 

AUDIO/SOUND CO.: Chicago Recording Company / Chicago

Mixer: Ian Scott                                                                       

Sound Designer: Ian Scott 


Song: ‘Let’s Get It Started’

Artists: The Black Eye Peas


Colorist: Michael Matusek

 About The Colonie: ( The Colonie is a Chicago-based creative editorial, motion design, visual FX and finishing postproduction house with a seamless, full-service approach to creating broadcast and digital content that engages, entertains, informs and moves audiences.

About Burrell Communications: ( Burrell is a full-service marketing and communications agency known for its leadership, solid strategic approaches, creative astuteness, and forward thinking.

About SuprePrime Directorial duo, The Malloys:( The Malloy brothers are lauded talents with a storied career.


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