Who: SAXX, Vancouver production company Kiddo, Vancouver FX company Supernice.
What: “Experience the BallPark Pouch,” a new video touting the underwear brand’s patented “Ballpark Pouch” and the comfort and flexibility it provides. It’s a client-direct assignment—not unusual for Kiddo, which has worked with clients including Mozilla, The Cartoon Network and Vancouver accounting software company Bench.
When & where: The 60-second video is designed to live online, with social and pre-roll the likely destinations. It was also shot in a way that allows for some 15-20 second cutdowns.
Why: The challenge was to talk about the underwear brand’s key competitive feature, the hammock-shaped “Ballpark Pouch,” in a way that highlighted its technical capabilities and overall comfort. While the feature’s name (and the underwear category in general) naturally lends itself to a humorous approach, Kiddo co-founder Michael Milardo says that SAXX also wanted to demonstrate the technology behind it. “They were struggling with really wanting to sell it as feature but it always becoming a punchline,” he says. “It’s a tough line to straddle.”
How: The 60-second master spot not only weaves in testimonials about the underwear, it includes a 3D digital rendering of the Ballpark Pouch. Meanwhile, actor Patrick Dodd displays the range of motion SAXX underwear allows while keeping his “boys” not only cool, but securely in place.
Keeping their eye on the ball(s): There were three directors on set for the shoot: Milardo, his Kiddo co-founder/creative director Leah Nelson, and VFX director Dan Gaud, from Vancouver studio Supernice. “On paper it sounds like a really bad idea, but in fact the three of us, all with our eyes on different balls—no pun intended—were able to have so much fun.” says Nelson. Dodd’s improv background also led to him developing ideas that weren’t in the original script. “Finding and casting him was the best thing we did, because he was able to really help elevate some of the comedy ideas we had,” says Nelson.
But what is Kiddo? The Vancouver-based “creative production company” was launched in January 2018.
Nelson’s background is primarily in documentary filmmaking, with a specific focus on client work. She was also one of the co-founders of Kiddo’s sister company, Vancouver animation studio Giant Ant, in 2008. “When Michael and I teamed up, we decided to break up the live action and create a sister company,” she says.
Milardo spent six years with Cossette Vancouver, rising to executive creative director. “I had capped out in Vancouver and had come to a career crossroads of either moving to the U.S. or Toronto or doing something completely different,” he says of the decision to move into production. “I really wanted to stay in Vancouver and get closer to what I love, which is film.”
Milardo had done some directing at Cossette (“my rule was if we couldn’t afford anyone better than me, I would put myself forward”) and also directed an 11-minute short entitled “Roam.”
The two companies also share studio space with a third sister company called Playdate, which specializes in music and sound. The long term goal, they say, is to continue building out other disciplines.
Why did they launch? Because “more for less” has become the new standard. “People need more pieces of content and the budgets haven’t changed, and that’s putting a lot of pressure on partners across every discipline,” says Milardo. “Our goal was to occupy a white space in the market, which was a creative-led production offering.”
Why Kiddo? The co-founders went through many different names, but kept returning to Kiddo.
“It probably means something different to each of us, but we wanted a name that was friendly and fresh and came out of the idea of us being a [younger] sister company to Giant Ant and Play Date,” says Nelson. “It has to do with youthfulness and agility and something that didn’t have a ton of baggage associated with it. It also sounds pretty okay alongside Giant Ant.”
The two co-founders share a Jan. 13 birthday, which is also around the time that Kiddo got its start (they spent this year’s birthday on the set of a Hot Wheels commercial).