There may have once been a time when there was a hierarchy in production work, when you worked up from commercials to television and then film, but that paradigm has been eviscerated. You are as likely to see the world’s most well-known actors, directors, and other professionals of the entertainment industry working across all of these formats. Talent and creativity rejects the premise of superiority held by previous generations. Production designer and ADG award winner James Chinlund, known for his work on numerous Oscar nominated films like War for the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and The Avengers, stated that he continually vacillates between feature films and commercials. He refers to the commercial work as an opportunity to experiment and hone ideas. Production Designer Yuntong Peng has a similar course of films and commercials. She may receive more notoriety for her designs of award winning films like Shadow or Anna and Dan but Peng confirms that commercials such as the recent Top Greener project she just completed are part of a well-rounded PD’s portfolio. Creative professionals like Yuntong require an outlet to exhibit their talent; whether it be on the silver screen or your laptop. Considering how the younger generation often prefers to receive all of their entertainment, information, and shopping online, it’s likely that the work of this PD and others will eventually be presented via the same tool.
To understand why companies such as Top Greener enlist film professionals like Yuntong, it’s imperative to understand modern advertising. America is the world’s leader in the advertising market. The US saw more than 190 billion dollars spent in 2017. Digital advertising appears to be overtaking TV ads for the first time in history. Top Greener is one of most successful sellers in Amazon with a number one rank in many categories. The company understands that the source of their customer base prefers online commerce. Peng’s prominence in the Indie film community ensured that she would bring exceptional talent and a youthful approach, thereby appealing to their core demographic. At the behest of director Yiyi Huang, Top Greener hired Peng to come up with designs for a series of three commercials to be aired online.
These commercials were created to display Top Greener’s USB wall outlets. The product is utilitarian and perhaps not as sexy as a sports car or a smartphone. Yuntong focused her designs in an approach that displayed not how this product would solely make one’s life wonderful but instead how it would complement the already wonderful parts of your daily life. The first offering shows a father, mother, and son, all in their own unique and personal spaces at home utilizing the USB outlet. The second commercial exhibits the ease and safety of replacing the outlet in a children’s room. The colors are particularly striking and engaging here. The third and final production also cleverly uses light and color, creating a dark and insecure space which then illustrated the benefit of the USB outlet. Peng concedes that her work here is not completely dissimilar to what she achieves for films in stating, “In designing for films, I need to create sets to tell the story. When designing for commercials like this one, I need to consider introducing the product to customers. For example, I have designed sets for a thriller film, creating a dark and gloomy look to attract audiences, peaking their curiosity about what they will see. I might design a commercial set to be close to real life but still use elements to cue certain emotions. While the goal may be to entertain or inform, the tools I use can apply to both.”