If you’ve turned on the TV in recent days, chances are good that you have seen author-illustrator Bob Staake starring in a new commercial for Intel. The 30-second spot began airing July 14 and features Staake touting the versatility of the 2-in-1 notebook/tablet (powered by Intel) as he works on both text and art for his latest picture book My Pet Book (Random House, July), and ultimately shares the title with a roomful of delighted kids.
Production took place over three days in May at Staake’s studio in Chatham, Mass., and other local spots, and Staake notes it all came together rather quickly. “About six weeks ago, I was contacted by their [Intel’s] agency in San Francisco, asking if I wanted to star in a commercial,” he recalls. “I immediately said ‘no’ because I’m so busy. But then they got in touch with my agent [Gillian MacKenzie] and she said, ‘Yes, we’re interested.’ ”
Staake became more enthusiastic as discussions progressed. “They wanted to build the commercial around a book of mine,” he says. “So it’s not only a commercial for them, but it then becomes nice for me. And it’s a celebration of kids reading picture books. That’s the best thing about the commercial – seeing kids having a blast, watching a book come to life with animation.”
But recording all the excitement proved to be a much larger undertaking than Staake had imagined. “I thought there would be three or four people there, a small shoot,” he says. “But there was a 60-person crew!” The scenes inside his studio let viewers see where the book creation really happens. “My commute is about 50 feet from our house,” Staake notes, of the work space he built himself. The outdoor scenes at the docks were shot in nearby Hyannisport and the storytime footage was captured at the Eldredge Public Library. “When the location scouts asked me where we might film the storytime, I told them that the two independent stores here are great, but I thought they were too small. So I suggested the library. It was a full-day shoot, and that’s tough for little kids. But they did a terrific job, and the kids are the real scene stealers.”
Staake says that the handful of Intel executives who came out for the shoot tasked him with making sure that lots of people see the commercial. “Based on the comments on Facebook and Twitter, and the email response, lots of people are seeing it,” he notes. “I even took a shot of me watching the commercial on a plane recently – on the screen on the back of the seat. When I share it with people I feel like I’m doing as much a job for picture books and reading as I am for Intel.
All the publicity is already showing a significant ripple effect. Staake did bookstore signings on July 16 at the “two little indies in town,” and says, “There was a huge line. You would not believe how many people were there who saw the commercial and said ‘We saw you and wanted to come and get a book signed.’ It really resonated with people.”
In retrospect, Staake is glad that he made time in his schedule for this unexpected project. “My Pet Book was a perfect book for this,” he says. “One of my other titles might not have worked as well; it’s just such a perfect fit. I’m really happy with how it turned out.”