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Therapy and Gifted Youth Team Up for PepsiMAX

Gifted Youth and Therapy Studios team up with NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon to redefine the test-drive in an elaborate reality-style prank for an online video and :30 TV spot called "Test Drive” for Pepsi MAX.


Los Angeles, CA --

Los Angeles-based editorial and post-production company Therapy Studios and Gifted Youth, the commercial production division of Funny or Die, team up with three-time Daytona 500 winning NASCAR driver, Jeff Gordon to redefine the test-drive in an elaborate reality-style prank for an online video and :30 TV spot called "Test Drive." The commercial and video were created by TBWA/Chiat/Day/LA and produced by Gifted Youth for Pepsi MAX as part of their Zero-Calorie In Disguise campaign. Directed by Gifted Youth’s Peter Atencio, the :30 spot is a teaser for the video that went viral earlier this month with more than 30 million views. The spot, which began airing on Sunday, March 17th for the NASCAR race on FOX in Bristol, Tennessee, urges fans to view the full-length video at, which points to the video on YouTube.

"Test Drive" features a disguised Jeff Gordon as Mike, a timid, minivan driving, Pepsi MAX drinking customer, and Steve, the unsuspecting used car salesman. Armed with the Pepsi MAX CAN CAM (secret camera) strategically positioned on the dash of the Camaro and GLASSES CAM, worn by Jeff Gordon, to capture the driver’s viewpoint, Gordon takes Steve on the most exhilarating ride of his life—with all the white knuckled, hair-raising action secretly captured by the “Zero-Calorie In Disguise” secret cameras. Aside from the travel to North Carolina to shoot with Jeff Gordon, the production came together in only five days according to Dal Wolf, executive producer with Gifted Youth, after getting the initial concept from the agency. Wolf adds, “It was truly a team effort between us, TWBA\Chiat\Day and Jeff Gordon, who was the perfect partner for this campaign. It was bold. It was fast. It was smart and pretty aggressive.”

“We had fifteen cameras on hand on set, recording to eight different formats. The "can cam" and "glasses cam" were actual spy camera technology, but their resolution was judged to be a bit sub-par so we had alternate versions made up with Go Pro cameras. GoPros were also used mounted onto the car and sprinkled along the road, as well as Panasonic remote cameras for the high-and-wides,” director of photography Charles Papert.

“There was an understood common goal between everyone at Chiat and Pepsi that made the process both smooth and a lot of fun. We knew we wanted to make something that emphasized the story, and that would present as immersive an experience as possible for the viewer. There was also a push to emphasize the comedy, which is something that our fantastic editor at Therapy Studios, Doobie White, clearly understood and brought out in the edit. Once we all found ourselves still laughing at the spot even after seeing it so many times during the edit, we knew we had something special. When the cut was locked, the team at Therapy did a fantastic job of putting the finishing touches on it. We all expected it to do well, but I can safely say none of us had any idea it'd blow up so dramatically the way it did,” director Peter Atencio.

Therapy Studios artists worked to create the realism and humor that made the video such a viral success. Editor Doobie White spent many hours crafting the footage to ensure that both the video and spot came across as the crazy thrill ride that it was, even with the complex shots needed to execute the stunt driving. Therapy sound designer Eddie Kim was crucial to enhancing the impact of the stunt driving sequences and stealth quality of the video. Therapy’s Wren Waters insured that the finishing, color correction, and visual effects lent both pieces a seamless look.

Source: Gifted Youth

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.