Laughlin Constable helped oil filter giant Fram connect with young adults by hiring a 70-year-old pitchman to call them “numnuts.”
“We wanted to channel that sort of sage old advisor we all kind of grew up with,” explains creative director Jon Laughlin.
Breaking Bad actor Jonathan Banks stars as the title character in Frampa, an online campaign LC created for Fram’s Extra Guard oil filters. In each of the series’ four spots, he shows tough but tender disapproval for anyone who cannot competently change the oil in their cars.
The people on the receiving end belong to a demographic that naturally fits into an ideal target market.
“There’s a trend in the Millennial mindset where a lot of people from 25 to 40-ish are into DIY stuff,” Laughlin says. “So how is that different than changing oil?”
Frampa offers generational wisdom from the deadpan school of keeping-it-real throughout the campaign. He confronts veganism, air fresheners and popular music with scowls, grunts, finger-wags and painful shoulder grips.
The ads have generated more than 300,000 clicks on Fram’s YouTube page alone. They’re also running in pre-roll buys arranged by Laughlin Constable’s media entity, LC Trading Desk, which uses a strategic algorithm to deliver prime audiences at favorable costs.
“The people we’re trying to talk to are watching on their devices,” says Laughlin. “LC Trading Desk is constantly searching for the right placement, so when the cost gets to a certain point — boom! — the spot’s up there.”
The statistics confirm what Laughlin and the creative team suspected all along: Banks could take “a heritage brand like Fram” and “make it cool again.”
“As part of the pitch, we presented a super cut of Banks’ scenes from Breaking Bad,” he says. “He had that relationship with Jesse Pinkman — and Jesse is our target, a Millennial — where he was kinda like this fatherly figure to him.”
The popularity of that relationship spoke directly to one of the campaign’s initial objectives.
“It’s almost like the oil change habit has skipped a generation,” Laughlin continues. “We really wanted to have that bridge.”
Also specified during early development was the gritty denouement featuring Banks’ head in the upper right-hand corner of the frame. He pops up long enough to inform viewers, “It’s the orange one, numnuts.”
“We put that up at the very first meeting with our internal team and everyone in the room just, like, died laughing,” Laughlin remembers.
Although Fram was on board with the edgy concept from the very beginning, Laughlin says that Chief Creative Officer Dan Fietsam’s contribution to the pitch was instrumental in getting the green light.
“Dan was like, ‘you know, good work should make you guys uncomfortable. If it makes you uncomfortable, we’re scratching the surface of something great.’ He really has the experience to say this with authority.”
Two of the spots that LC presented in the pitch — Dumb Phone and Choices — went all the way through production and are now among the four in play.
The campaign was shot in LA. Hungry Man handled production. Ric Cantor directed. Chicago’s Mix Kitchen mixed the audio and composed the hair band stinger that punctuates each spot.
LC’s in-house production facility, LC Hive, handled post-production. Laughlin watched the performance enough times during that process to really appreciate the nuances in Banks’ talent.
“Jonathan was very conscientious of the Breaking Bad character and didn’t want to do a facsimile,” he says. “It’s not the same character. I was kind of shocked.”
Off-screen, Laughlin says that the actor “is a really sweet guy” who’s just “a little bit salty.”
He and LC producer Phil Smith visited Banks in his home to help with wardrobe shortly before production began. Banks served them coffee, spoke lovingly of his wife and apologized to any women present immediately after cussing.
CLIENT – Fram Group
Brand Manager – Brian Kelley
AGENCY – Laughlin Constable
CEO, President – Mat Lignel
Chief Creative Officer – Dan Fietsam
Chief Strategy Officer – Mark Carlson
Executive Vice President, Account Services – Renee Haber
Vice President, Media – Emily Harley
Creative Director – Jon Laughlin
Senior Art Director – Dan Koel
Copywriter – Matt Portman
Vice President, Senior Producer – Phil Smith
Group Account Director – Denise Joseph
Account Manager – Lainie Rotenberg
Senior Integration Manager – Mike Murray
Digital Strategist – Dominic Pellitteri
Senior Social Strategist – Lauren Mahomes
Production Company – Hungry Man
Director – Ric Cantor
Production Company Producer – James Kadonoff
Editing/Post Production/Special Effects
Editorial Company – Hive
Editor – Lauren Brandoff
Motion Graphics Artist – Margaret O’Brien
Music House & Audio Mix – Mix Kitchen/Chicago
Composer – Craig J. Snider
Engineer – Sam Fishkin
Color – Nolo Digital Film/Chicago
Colorist – Mike Matusek