I have worked with more than my share of celebrities over the past 25 years, from MJ to General Chuck Yeager. Most of the time, it’s a good experience, excect in the case of General Yeager who was a complete and total jerk. But, the celeb I probably enjoyed most was Kevin Federline. At the time, the KFed was known as “America’s Most Hated” celebrity. He had just been told to take a hike by wife Brittany Spears and was in the middle of a nasty divorce with America’s sweetheart. He was taking a beating everyday by every gossip columnist in the world.
I didn’t know what to expect when he showed up for the shoot. I was expecting KFed to be an AHole.
But quite the contrary. I liked him immediately. We had a mutual friend in common, Paul Hunter. Come to find out, Kevin had choreographed a coupled Dr. Pepper commercials that Paul had directed for Y&R, with the spanish singer Talia and the Black-Eyed Peas. Small world. Plus, I love to dance and taught him a couple of moves!
But the great thing about Kevin was that he wasn’t above poking fun at himself. That’s what the spot was about. One minute you are on top of the world, the next minute you’re not. Hey, life comes at you fast. And Kevin admitted it. We were told that when he was first presented the idea by his agent, Kevin was opposed to it. He turned us down flat. But “his people” convinced him that it would be the right thing to do for his image. And it was! He parlayed his new image into “Parent of the Year” by People Magazine. Meanwhile, Brittany, as we all remember, self-destructed.
Kevin was a great guy. He showed up on time and worked his butt off for the director, Frank Tadaro of Moxie Pictures.
He also worked his butt off for Nationwide Insurance. He and the marketing director of NW, Steven Schreibman, musta made every news show, talk show and morning show between New York and Los Angeles prior to the Super Bowl. And it paid off. Estimates ranged in upwards of over $20 million in free publicity that Nationwide received by introducing the spot prior to the game, instead of debuting during the game. Smart move by Steven!
The spot turned out to be Number One in the Sports Illustrated online poll and featured the following year on Fox’s “Best Super Bowl Commercials of All-Time” program. It was also ranked in the Top Ten in the USAToday poll.
It’s great when the good guys win, and Kevin Federline is one of the good guys.