If you’ve spent much time in Georgia or the Carolinas, you’ve probably seen the iconic, smiling pig head logo of the Piggly Wiggly grocery stores. Piggly Wiggly is easily one of the most recognizable and beloved brands in the South. Piggly Wiggly is a huge part of the community, sponsoring virtually every local event, donating gift cards to causes, and generally being a genuinely good corporate citizen. Kids (and adults) wear “I Dig the Pig” T-Shirts, bumper stickers proclaim that drivers are “Big on the Pig,” and preschoolers in this part of the country recognize the Pig logo earlier than they recognize Mickey Mouse.
It’s been a great pleasure for me, over the years, to work on a variety of Piggly Wiggly projects. Over the past few months, I worked closely – as director, DP and editor – with the team at Rawle Murdy Associates (Piggly Wiggly’s ad agency) to create a two-minute TV commercial that was the centerpieces of the largest Pig branding campaign in a decade. Ten of us spent five days driving all around South Carolina and coastal Georgia, shooting farms, schools, stores and scenics that visually represented the way that “The Pig” is woven into the fabric of these communities.
What struck me, after we had finished this project, was how this commercial (brilliantly written and conceived by Daniel Russ, whose list of TV credits is better than most entire ad agencies) spoke not only about Piggly Wiggly in particular, but about the South in general. In the minds of many people, the American South is a wasteland of redneck trailer parks, festering swamps, impoverished ghettos, and banjo-playing inbreds. What I had the opportunity to do with this project was to show the REAL South.From the very beginning, Daniel insisted on filming only real people doing real things: no actors, and no fake smiles.
What you see here is as authentic as a TV commercial can be, and people have recognized it. A recent letter to the editor of the Charleston daily paper asked, “Am I the only person who tears up each time Piggly Wiggly’s new “local since forever” commercial is shown? It not only captures the true spirit of our community, but accurately reflects The Pig’s long history of commitment to the Lowcountry.”
In an industry that is often (and with reason) criticized for promoting unsustainable consumerism, the sexualization of children, public apathy, and the general decline of Western Civilization, it is nice to be reminded that there are good companies out there, and it is even nicer to be able to do work I can be proud of, promoting not only a good company, but a good message.
A few technical notes: 95% of this was shot on the Panasonic AF-100. A few of the scenic shots were shot on the Canon 5D Mark II. Everything was edited in Final Cut Studio (I refuse to switch to FCPX, and will be transitioning to Premiere Pro once CS6 is released), and graded with Red Giant Colorista II.