Fox’s “Bite Size Horror” packs a king-sized punch

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"The Road" for M&M's

“The Road” for M&M’s

I sure do love Halloween. Like, it’s a genuine let’s go on a date and I’ll spend money on you kind of love. Next to Christmas, it’s my favorite holiday of the year. Is it even a holiday? If not, it should be, as it is my only chance to dress up as Daredevil.

So, with it being Halloween week and all, I thought I would kick it off with my first non-Chicago Reel Ad of the Week. I’ve never actually considered awarding RAW to agencies outside of Chicago before, but what Fox Network Group’s digital agency, All City, has done with M&M’s, Skittles, Starburst and Snickers is just brilliant.

Titled, “Fox Bite-size Horror,” these are a series of 2-minute branded films that don’t even incorporate the product except for a line from the announcer, “M&M’s presents bite-sized horror.” After that, you are in for a short thrill.

Brilliant. The film was directed by the team of Jack Bishop and, Chicagoan, Justin Nijm, who are repped by production company Gifted Youth under the name Jack & Justin. Bishop says that Fox Digital chose them based on previous work they had seen:

“Fox saw a couple of short horror films we did for a TV series called Sleep Tight,” he explains. “So, they reached out to us and asked if we wanted to come in and pitch some short horror that were one to three minutes long. They left it open. We went in and pitched a huge group of people a bunch of ideas. At the time, it was hard to tell what they responded to.”

He adds, “I told them this one story that was a true story that happened to my girlfriend and her father on a road in Arkansas. All swear the light really did come into the car and pass through it.”

Nijm, having grown up in the Arlington Heights area, knew all too well about haunted roads. “Jack’s story stuck with me because I had Cuba Road and Rainbow Road growing up. The haunted road is a universal thing and it’s fun to play with that dynamic. We had no idea that these were branded spots or that Mars would be involved. Just encourage us to create narrative or cinematic.”

The team shot in one night for 12 hours. They tried scouting haunted roads around Los Angeles and found one, but according to Nijm it was too dry. “There wasn’t enough foliage to feel like you’re in a tunnel. We were lucky and just found a wooded location that looked like that classic spooky road.”

Another short that caught my eye was Snickers’ Live Bait, written by Gabriel Miller and Andrew Laurich, who are known for their Sundance short A Reasonable Request.

“They approached us back in March saying they were putting together a family-friendly horror short anthology, and did we have any ideas?” says Miller. He told Adfreak, the idea for the fisherman plot came while he was actually doing some fishing at his family’s beach house in Denmark.

Mars is one of the few brands that can pull off this kind of series, since their brands have a natural connection with Halloween. It’s branded entertainment the way branded entertainment was meant to be. And that is why Fox’s All City and Mars get a special Monday edition of Reel Ad Of The Week.

AdWeek is reporting that there may be up to 12 short films released as part of Mars’ “Bite Size Horror” series. I hope so!

Have a spooky Halloween spot or campaign that you think is RAW? Email Colin at colin@reelchicago.com.

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