Heineken & Major League Soccer
October 2017

The Invisible Thread

Heineken snuck 137 green shirts with mysterious messages into hundreds of live soccer broadcasts. I just cut them all together.

Client

Heineken & Major League Soccer

Services

Video Editing, Visual Effects, Production Support

Date
October 2017
Ongoing

Background

I was working as a staff video editor at Juice Groove Films when an assignment came across our desk that seemed like a dream come true: a broadcast TV commercial for Heineken and Major League Soccer. It wasn’t until the ink on the contract dried that I realized what I was getting myself into.

The brief: capture live footage of fans, players, coaches, and MLS personalities wearing different green shirts with seemingly random words on them. Then, right before MLS playoffs, premiere this commercial with all of the words stitched together to read a love letter to “the beautiful game.”

In basic numbers: 137 words. 11 MLS teams. 6 TV Networks. Nearly 500 soccer fans and actors.

In practice, the three-man team at Juice Groove had to print nearly 3,000 t-shirts to distribute to select fans at 8 different MLS games. After signing releases and confirming seat locations, Juice Groove’s talented camera crew captured fans wearing their shirts in the wild using specialized telephoto lenses and lightning-fast reflexes. 

For the Heineken product shots, there was also an additional staged shoot at a local supporter’s bar where we conscripted loyal NYCFC football fans to gather on our closed set. They were compensated with an open bar tab which skyrocketed to an eye-watering five-figure bill.

At the end of the exhaustive two-month shoot, I collected nearly 20 TB of clips. It was time to get to editing.

How I Helped

Working closely with Juice Groove as well as two creative directors from Publicis, I began editing the commercial in Adobe Premiere Pro. Since each “word” in the sentence could have been captured eight different times at different locations with different people, there were a myriad of edit decisions to make. Organization was key in creating order from the chaos. We certainly pushed Google Sheets to its limits with our sheer amount of columns filled with actors, release documents, and photo references.

After a week, we submitted our first locked cut. Then Heineken’s legal department gave us some bad news: the hashtag printed as a subtitle on every shirt was a possible copyright violation and had to be removed. The only way to achieve this was manually scrubbing out the text from 137 different shots. Teaming up with a few contracted VFX artists, we managed to rotoscope all 137 shots within 3 days. Utilizing Adobe After Effects, I also completed a handful of VFX shots including screen replacements, motion tracking, and rotoscoping.

The Results

The campaign ended up being an instant success. Before the commercial aired, thousands of tweets popped up questioning the meaning of these mysterious green shirts, boosting Heineken’s social engagement stats by nearly double.

The commercial itself aired all throughout the 2017 MLS Championship matches, and netted an additional 2.5 million views on YouTube as well. International soccer legend and NYCFC captain David Villa also retweeted the campaign to his 8.8 million followers.

Additional Video

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