It started with a Google search for the world’s best LEGO maker and ended with commercial air time during the third quarter of Super Bowl 50. Last year, Elevation Digital Media founders Chris Lewis and Jon Stevenson were tasked with creating a series of video spots for Arrow Electronics, the Fortune 500 company based in Centennial, and told to “interpret their art,” not knowing fully the type of work that Arrow did — much less that their own work might wind up at the Super Bowl.
“Getting the green light from a client with very little direction makes you think, ‘Wow, the world is my oyster, this is why I got into this,’ but it’s kind of scary, too,” says Lewis, Elevation Digital Media’s creative director. “It’s a huge interpretation, like saying I don’t know if you want crayon, paint, pencil, or what you want on this blank canvas.”
Still, Elevation Digital Media was up for the job. Arrow Electronics isn’t the first big-name client the firm has worked with; its portfolio also includes names like Nike and Comcast.
As the five-member team started brainstorming ways to highlight Arrow Electronics’ work with lighting, they began looking at the company’s work differently. Rather than focusing on Arrow building airplanes or space ships, Lewis says he started thinking about key components of the technology. “We were just starting to talk about how you can’t make this bigger thing without the little pieces, the way that Arrow works, when Jon [Stevenson] told me to come check out this video about the best LEGO builder in the world,” Lewis remembers. “I told him we needed to bring this guy here, because little pieces are what Arrow does to make greater things.”
After a quick negotiation with world-renowned Brazilian LEGO artist and animator Arthur Sacek, Elevation Digital Media flew him to Denver, set him up with an Airbnb and commissioned a robotic machine built from LEGOs that would be able to fly a paper airplane. What would have taken a decent LEGO builder four weeks to create took Sacek only five days.
“With the right instruction manual, it would take the average person two or three months to make this thing,” Lewis adds. “He was working on two to three hours of sleep a night because he wanted to crank through it; he’s just one of those guys who can’t stop once he gets going. He was inspired, and that made us inspired, too.”
Despite Sacek’s incredible ability, Lewis says there were a few bumps in the road that made everyone wonder whether the project would really take off. Sacek became concerned about meeting the deadline, and Lewis says that Hugo Meyer, Arrow’s director of Global Brand Management, told him that Arrow wouldn't be angry if the team couldn't pull it off.
So when the airplane took flight for the first time, everyone was speechless.
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“We made the paper-airplane commercial back in August, and Arrow never gave any indication that they wanted to air this nationally,” Lewis recalls. “In early January, they told us they had purchased Super Bowl air time, and asked what we thought about them running the LEGO airplane spot.”
They thought they were good with that. “We always thought we’d just see this spot airing during the local news," Lewis recalls, "but we did start treating every one of our projects like it would be seen on the Super Bowl.”
And now this one will be, which is win enough for Elevation Digital Media. “We’re not into big flash things, and we’ve never spent a dollar on marketing or promotion,” Lewis says. “We just like making cool stuff. If people appreciate it enough to keep our lights on, get our guys paid and we’re able to throw a nice Christmas party, then we’re happy. That’s the unique thing about us.”
Elevation Digital Media's commercial for Arrow Electronics will air during the second half of Super Bowl 50. For more information about Elevation Digital Media, visit elevationdigitalmedia.com.