VIC MENSA x UGGS - WHAT GOES INTO A REAL AD
VIC MENSA x UGGS BEHIND THE SCENES
Here are the Official Photos from the Uggs x VIC shoot shot by Jake Osmun assisted by Chris Brown. Scroll to see, then below those are behind the scenes photos I shot then a write up about the project from my stand point. Enjoy. - C
"Look at that poster" "Check out that billboard" "Did you see that Yachty and Lebron are promoting Sprite?" "Why does everyone post about Fit Tea on Instagram and hashtag #ad?"
You ever say stuff like this? Well, all of this ties into the topic of Advertising. Something that I'm studying in school right now and that I've learned so much about in the past few months since moving to Chicago.
I guess taking a class about advertising is cool and it certainly teaches you a lot about the field, but actually being a part of a big project and spectating it from every angle gives you a real feel of what gears have to turn to make a project come to life.
If I was fifteen sixteen seventeen or even twenty years old and I didn't know about this stuff, I would think: Oh, company calls photographer then company calls artist then company pays photographer to take one photo of artist and company prints it on billboards.
No. That is so so so wrong. It may look that way, and the final product might just portray that process, but there is SO much that goes into a single advertisement, celeberty endorsement, and ad. Luckily, I got to be a part of a great ad and work for a great company with a great artist and I got to see everything from a behind-the-scenes point of view.
I am writing this with the intention of teaching you guys how much work goes into a basic looking project. And let me tell you, none of it is basic. Also I'm writing this because I think that I'm one of the few eighteen year olds who run a blog and like to teach people about the world, i don't know.
So, my friends. Here is what goes into a single advertisement.
First, you have to understand a few things. There are a few parties involved in advertising.
There's the CLIENT: the person who is paying for the advertisement. In this case, it is UGGS. Yes, the shoe / boot company.
So, the client wants to run this ad. UGGS wanted Vic Mensa for their promotion. So UGGS creates the idea and then they get in touch with a few groups of people, who are THE AGENCIES.
Agencies can run from having 5 people on staff to something like 500. It all depends. In this case, UGGS picked an awesome Agency called HDF.LA which consists of under ten members.
They get in touch with the agency and they tell them "Hey, we want to do this. Can you make it happen". From there it's in the hands of the agency to make it happen.
The agency creates an Ad Deck (or a board). This is basically the drawing board for the ideas of the project.
At this point in the project, I jumped on board. A friend of mine Jake Osmun needed an assistant for the project and there was budget to have extra hands on, so I got the role. I basically helped out with prep, getting cameras ready, dumping photos onto hard drive from location to location, and some creative direction throughout the shoot.
Once I signed on, I was CCd on the emails (every convo about it, it came through my email to view). This is where I saw the deck for the first time.
So the agency makes the deck and then they send it back to the client and if everything looks good, they proceed with the project.
The client sets X amount of money up for the project. X amount goes directly to the talent (the person involved in the ad), Y goes to the people working the set / project, and Z goes to extra funds like busses, catering, ect (i'll get to that).
The agency figures how much money each person is going to get, with the help of the client.
Then they get everyone on board. Now, this is the type of stuff most people wouldn't understand. I only say that because before this, I had no clue how many different steps went into such a thing. There's so much more to a single ad than you'd ever imagine.
The day before the shoot we all got emailed a "Call Sheet". This is something that is involved in any project, from movies down to internet ads. Anything in show business has this. It's like an attendance sheet for class, but with a little more info. On it, I got to see every working gear that will turn to make the project work.
I can't post it because it has personal numbers and emails, but I will tell you all the working parts of the project.
Client : Ugg (with that is two woman who are orchestrating the project)
Agency : HDF.LA (CEO, Creative Director, Producer, Production Manager)
Talent : Vic Mensa
Photographer : Jake Osmun (Head) // Me & Carson Mathis (Assistants)
Video : Visual Manager + Sound Producer
Wardrobe : Vic's Stylist Zoe
Grooming : Vic's Barber + Vic's Dread Stylist
Catering : Chicago Catering Company
Now, this might sounds wild, but everything down to the exact minute is planned out for the shoot. Everything is planned in advance and during the actual shoot everyone has to work as scheduled to get everything done on time and in an orderly fashion.
This is interesting to look at if you're interested in advertising because it shows how a single agency can take control and plan the entire day out. UGGS doesn't do this, the agency itself does. So every time that you look at a poster in a city, or an add on a train, or a commercial sponsoring a product, or see even a social media post with #ad in it, just know that there's a team of people working for an agency that puts it together and works really hard on it, just to connect the client to the talent and get the talent to draw attention from the audience.
Day before the shoot, Jake, the agency team and I went around to the three locations and scouted them to see what we wanted to do for the shoot. We just got an idea of what would look best and in what way.
Fast forward to the morning of the shoot.
I wake up at 6:30 in my dorm room, prepared to skip my first class ever.
I throw on my outfit, put my camera and my lenses in my bag, drop my laptop in my backpack, and head out. I take the red line downtown, amongst all these people in suits and ties. I get to the hotel that the agency team was staying at hangout in the lobby for a bit.
I grab some coffee and talk with the team. This part was what made it so cool. At first I had to break the ice and prove to them I knew what I was doing. These people travel the world every single day running ads and making ideas come to life, ovbiously it's a little strange for them to be working with a kid.
"How were all of your flights" one of the agency guys said to the people sitting around me on the couches in the lobby. All of us trying to overcome the tiredness as we drink our hot coffee.
"Quick!" the girl to my right said.
"Not bad, I slept and caught up on some work" the woman across from me said in her heavy British accent. She was wearing an overall outfit that was something right out of a fashion show. Her hair pink, her age older than 25. Her rings seemed to be from all over the world and her notebook filled with work on her lap.
We end up going around and introducing one another. Turns out Vic has a very talented and diverse team. Which comes to show that every big artist does. He has one woman braid his hair each and every time, one woman style him, Jake as his main photographer, Roc Nation as his label, and everyone else who helps along the way.
We chat for a while and talk about the anticipation and excitement for the shoot then we all get into a white van and drive to the first location.
We pull up to the Damon Sihlos in west Chicago. We drive to the back of the abandoned structures to find what looks like a big white tour bus parked. Next to it was a bunch of people unloading what seemed to be tents and tables.
Turns out that for the day, the agency rented a tour bus. This is where Vic got his hair cut, all the clothes were set up, we hungout, and we stored all our stuff.
Illy and I hungout for a while and talked in the tour bus, awaiting the start of the day. She's the girl that does Vic's hair. She's in her mid twenties and she's from New York. My favorite type of person. She told me all about her career and how she does nearly everyone's dreads from Flatbush Zombies to Vic. She cuts hair too for people like ASAP Bari and a few others. She's everyone's go to. But you wouldn't know it off the bat. Everyone in the real professional world doesn't care about their craft in conversation. Adults don't care to flex like teenagers do. I guess the fact that I've been around the scene for so long taught me that at a young age and that helped me mature a lot and be more adapted in this professional world. This isn't no walk-around-soho-all-day world. This is wake up get stuff done go to bed repeat.
A little while later Vic and Jake roll up, Vic driving his BMW. This was my first time seeing Vic. I never really grew up listening to him, but ever since freshman year of high school I was such a big Chance fan and Vic worked so closely with Chance so I knew of him. it was tight to see him drive to 'work' in his own car, that's something I just can't see Kanye doing.
They come in the bus thing and greet everyone. Lots of smiles and hellos. He shakes my hand and introduces himself.
He's wearing rings on almost every finger, Balmain pants, and a pair of UGGS. Yes. Like the tan ones that every teenage girl in highshool got for Christmas freshman year. Those exact ones. But he's pulling them off. He's making them look...... cool. Naturally. Without trying.
We all get breakfast from the catering tables. It was damn near better than any breakfast I've had before! Five star dining for the day, that's for sure!
Vic gets his hair cut in the bus by this awesome guy Lawrence and they catch up. They talk about Vic's Europe tour and the finishing of the album that he's been doing out in LA.
Jake and I talk for a bit about how we're going to shoot, how we're going to handle memory card sutff, ect.
After a little while a car of woman pull up and come in. Two woman walk in, one with a heavy Australian accent and the other in this beautiful gucci fur jean top. They introduce themselves to everyone and we all talk. Turns out that the one with the awesome accent is named Alice and she's the head of global PR for UGGS. She's the one in charge of nearly, well, everything social and public. If you're from New England then you should know that shes the one who thought of and created the Tom Brady and UGGS collaboration endorsement. She's one of the coolest woman I've ever met at eighteen years old. I guess my goal of the day was to prove to them that I was the coolest eighteen year old they'd have met, too. But that's besides the point.
We all talk and hangout while Zoe (Vic's stylist) preps the outfits. It's crazy how styling works.
I think that Ian Connor kind of gave the word "Stylist" a weird connotation amongst teenagers. I always thought when I was younger that it's just stylish people picking clothes they like or own for celeberties. It's so much more than that.
Zoe taught me a ton of what it really means to be a stylist. She goes to different show rooms around the world and sees different pieces that they have. When she gets the call that they're doing UGGS x Vic, she sees what looks they're going for and she picks out different outfits according to the shoes they want to run and the location. She styled vic head to toe, from where the rips on his shirt should face down to the way the shoe laces were tucked into the slippers.
We went out and shot the first series. It was very natural. I guess all the people stood around and watched. I held a speaker in my hand playing Waka Flocka (Vic's choice). In my pocket was Vic's phone, his cigarettes and an external hard drive. We just played music and joked around, we kept things fluent and natural.
We shot some photos, reviewed them, liked them, then moved around the abadoned structures to get what we wanted to shoot. We ended up getting a bunch of sheet metal and spray painting on it which I thought was a unique idea.
The first location took a while and we shot something like 1800 photos. It's crazy because of those 1800, only two or three were actually used for publication / posting. But that's what the industry is about. Having a lot to choose from.
After the first location, we packed everything up then went to this park area near the water. We set up tables and had lunch. We all ate and talked and hungout for a bit then went to the pier to shoot the next set.
It was for the water proof boots so we got near the water a bit.
Nothing too crazy, just photos being taken.
Then we went downtown to one of the train stops and set up the truck and all the vans. It turns out that the agency has to call the city of Chicago and purchase a permit to take photos at a certian location at a certain time. In New York they told me that it cost them $8,000 for a permit one day, but this time in Chicago it was only $45. Crazy, isn't that? I guess that's one of those "behind the scenes" things you wouldn't know about unless you were the one buying or selling such a thing.
We shot photos at the train stop and got some video footage.
The sun was setting and it was beginning to get a little cold. Vic was in a full coat and some nice looking UGGS. Don't sleep on UGGS, i'm telling you. They're fire and they are certainly not a bad shoe.
As night came we packed up the truck and moved to the last location. Now, this part was something out of some rap music video lifestyle.
We went downtown and into this building, up a small flight of stairs, through some glass doors, and into a big studio. The same studio that all the big Chicago artists made their music in.
This part was the coolest of them all. We hung out and got pizza for dinner. There was the studio room itself then another big room connected to it with windows and stuff so you could see in, but the studio was completely sound proof of course.
Vic did an interview-style video for a little while in the studio room while all of us hungout in the other rooms.
Once that was done I found myself on the couch in the studio, next to Vic's producer Papi Beats the guy who has made all of Vic's stuff for nearly ever. Jake was shooting with flash photos of Vic in the slip on UGGS.
After we got some shots, the agnecy people and the UGGS woman ended up leaving. It had been a twelve hour day. Everyone was tired. I said my goodbyes and made sure I had everyone's contact info for the future.
We had about two hours with studio time remaining. Vic was writing and thinking of ideas. I guess they didn't want to work on the album unless they were in LA so they decided to get some new things going.
On the couch next to me was this girl Audrey who works for their team and actually goes to school in the city too. Next to her was Vic's tour manager guy, this really funny guy who does all the lighting for the shows and makes sure all goes as planned.
He told us funny stories about the Europe tour with Bieber as we all smoked cigarettes and laughed. Oh, another thing I learned from Zoe and Illy and Vic and this shoot. Like it or not, cigarettes are a part of the industry. Those are words of Illy. If you don't smoke, that's cool. But never think for a second that cigarettes are going to go away once you leave highschool or your local town or whatever. Everyone smokes cigarettes. The industries' biggest conversation starter. It's a way to sit and talk to people for a few minutes. I've smoked with Ian Connor, I've smoked with Playboi Carti, I've smoked with Vic. It's the best time interval to actually talk to someone. I don't smoke weed but I will smoke a cancer filled tobacco stick if it means I can talk about life with someone for a few minutes. It's just how the world goes. Sorry to break it to you.
Vic had this idea to sing over some old song he had liked. Papi Beatz took it offline and studied the melody. He then plugged in his guitar and started replicating it, switching it up and making it their own. There were points where I was just sitting on the leather couch with a smile on my face absorbing everyhting that was going on around me. I guess this is something that thousands of kids dream of. It was kind of just a day of work to me. But a cool day.
Vic was laying on the ground singing into the mic as smoke rose like a chimney from the cigarette in his mouth. As Papi Beatz played the piano over it, a ciagrette hang secured between his lips. The room was orange tinted and the mood so calm. Vic sang in a loop and interrupted himself with "run that back" or "let's try this way".
"You fuck with it?" he asked me.
"I'd sit here and listen to this for days" i said back, cracking with a laugh.
"You one of those young kids in the scene, aren't you. Like eighteen or some shit" he said back into the mic yet only five or so feet infront of me.
"Something like that" I said as I look up from my phone which was nearly dead from the long day.
"I'm with that. Keep working. Keep doing shit. It dont't matter what is it. Just keep doing shit." he said to me in some sort of inspiring tone.
I guess this was the most important part of the day.
I wish that I was one of those kids who grew up LOVING Vic Mensa.
I don't know how to describe this part. When I picked up Ian Connor and Carti at the airport it was some sort of fuffillment for me. It was like I had succeeded in my goal of just getting my feet wet in the scene. I had to many questions for Ian. It was the coolest thing I had ever done at the time. I was driving around with Ian Connor bringing him to a party that I had orchestrated. When he told me he fucked with me it was like, gratifying. I had done it. I had looked up to Ian and to hear him laugh and say it was so fuffilling.
But to hear it from Vic was cooler than from Ian. Vic is so real. When I found out I was working this job I listened to his album "There's A Lot Going On" start to finish. The one song that stuck out to me was the last track, track seven, titled "There's A Lot Going On". It's rich in imagery. It's full of a single story that walks you through his come up and him getting signed. He talks about his quick falls and his fight with his demons. He talks about writing Wolves for Kanye and getting signed to Jay Z. I listened to it probably fifteen times that week on the train going to and from class just imagining every bit of it in my head, like a movie playing infront of my eyes.
I liked Vic. Not as some sort of "idol" or some music god. But as a dude. As someone I worked with for a day. He's an artist. He's a real dude. He works hard and he has goals and he has to work for his creations and his productions. He's clearly big enough to get a deal with a brand like UGGS as they try to gear to a new demographic.
So for him to say this was cool. And to watch him sit on the ground on his back and sing into the mic looking at the ceiling smoking a cigarette was even cooler. It was just something euphoric to be a part of. Something that I knew I grow to look back on and appreciate.
After a little while we ended the session and cleaned up the place. Jake and I talked about how we were going to transfer the files and the photos and get them to UGGS and everyone. He had all of them and as the head photographer it was his job to get them over to the Agency and all that.
I dapped everyone up and thanked them for the experience.
As I was leaving, Illy tapped me on the shoulder and said to me "keep doing you, man. you got it. you know what's going on and 99% of kids your age haven't even seen anything outside their home town. You'll be great in this industry. I promise"
I'll never forget that. "Hopefully I'll see you again sometime in New York or something" i said back.
"No. We'll meet again. I know it. Keep it up kid" she said as she walked infront of me and then out the front door of the studio.
"Where you going?" Jake asked me as I started to walk off. "Get over here, I'll call you the Uber" he said.
A minute later a silver lexus pulled up in front of me. I turned to Jake and gave him a hug. "Thank you bro. For real. For everything"
I'm so thankful for Jake Osmun. I got to book a round trip flight to London to go see my friends in a few weeks off the Vic day. And I got ten pairs of UGGS in the mail a few days later from Alice. All because I knew how to network and market myself. And send a few correct emails i guess.
"No problem my friend. Hit me up when you're in LA" he said as I got into the car.
I got in the Uber and went right back to my campus, it was almost midnight at this point. I got into my bed at school and laughed a bit. I looked through my camera roll on my phone and said to myself "another day another adventure".
So overall I got to see the industry from an in-the-moment point of view. And it was amazing.
So next time you see and ad in a city or even a promoted post on Facebook or Instagram, just know that there's an entire story behind that campaign. This was my Vic x UGGS story. Here's a bunch of behind the scenes photo from the day. Hope you enjoyed.