The Debt Monkey

Commercials from the Debt Monkey campaign

The Debt Monkey
Creating the most recognized 'non-sport' brand in Western Pennsylvania
AdvantageCCS is a non-profit credit counseling company that services all of Western Pennsylvania. When we were awarded the account they had zero market recognition amid increasingly fierce competition from national and regional sources. After all the market research, focus groups and meetings, it all came down to one thing - with a limited budget they needed a big idea. A recurring theme from the focus groups kept coming back to me, people described their debt almost like an addiction, a weight they couldn't get out from under. It reminded me of the phrase "having a monkey on your back".

When the now eight year campaign launched it resulted in immediate and powerful returns for the client. Over the next eight years, the campaign would change and adapt to address the changing economic landscape. Below are just a few of the commercials that I wrote, produced, and in some cases directed over that time. In some of the later commercials I even did the voice of the monkey!
The launch commercial. The Baboon is named Chloe and she is from Southern California and is a star in her own right, appearing in tv and movies - including Bruce Almighty. You can't film wild animals like a Baboon in Pennsylvania, so we had to film in West Virginia. The move is what inspired the location and really made the spots more surreal.
 This is the other launch commercial. Chloe was getting more and more testy as the day wore on and that gave us some really good interactions. The inspired part of this however is the sound design, listen for the pregnant pause and the sound of a fly. Gets me every time.
The following two spots are from the second round the next year. This time we went to Chloe in Southern California and shot these in a dry lake bed outside of Bakersfield. 
After the first two years the campaign evolved, while a real Debt Monkey was perfect for the negative representation of debt, the Debt Monkey became extremely popular and needed a more 'human' representation. For the next four years the Debt Monkey became a puppet. These two spots are from the campaign in 2009-10, and the voice of the DM is myself in these spots. 
These are two of the new spots and you can see how the campaign continues to evolve and change. These are simple fifteen second spots that highlight a specific feature of the client services. The Debt Monkey is regulated to a small supporting role in these. These spots were produced in-house, thanks mostly to Jeff Kowal and feature myself as the voice-over.
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