That was the critical question Asher faced on a recent television commercial shoot for SUBWAY® Restaurants.

Our client, Chris Carroll, the chief advertising officer at SUBWAY®, had asked us to develop a concept to show consumers there’s a different $3.50 Sub of the Day for them to try every day of the week. Of the ideas that were presented he and his team selected a concept called “Important Days.” It was an idea that we had worked on together with our partners at multi-cultural agency MARCA.

The challenge?

The idea seemed simple. We had 30 seconds to convey our retail offer and, simultaneously, age a young couple in a way that would transport them from their first date in high school, through marriage, to buying their first house, and, finally, having their first baby.

The biggest hurdle? There were just a few days to solve the “aging” process because we had to go from presented concept to finished commercial in less than three weeks. No easy task.

Pulling it off would require the right partners. That meant carefully selecting a production company. A director with the vision to make it all happen. Plus, an editor with the creative touch to bring the story to life after everything was shot.

Assembling the team.

After bidding the project with several different companies — and reviewing the creative treatments developed by some very talented directors — we awarded the job to Company Films and director David McNally. Almost immediately, David, along with producer Robert Katz, began assembling their team, including director of photography ­­­­­Joshua Hess.

The next step was casting for the perfect performers. After reviewing hundreds of auditions — and working with selected actors during a lengthy day and late night of call-backs at ASG Casting — we had our cast. Drew Tarver and Christine Donlon would be our couple. The newborn baby who played the part of little Teri — she was born on Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Day — was actually twins Oakley & Tatum Fisher. It was critical to have twins because of the limited time each baby is allowed to be on camera.

Overcoming the production obstacles.

 With the cast set, we needed locations to do our filming. The story required an exterior shot at night, an apartment, a newer upscale home and a hospital room. We had four scenes to shoot. But, only one 14-hour day to do it. No problem right? Wrong. There wouldn’t be time to move the cast and crew. The solution? Scout for and select a house that was large enough, and diverse enough, to allow us to transform one bedroom into an apartment and another into a birthing suite. Voila!

Finally, working with SUBWAY® clients Heather Pastir and Steve Fcasni we collaborated with a veteran Hollywood make-up artist and wardrobe stylist that David had selected to plan and execute the aging process. Everything was in the details. Wardrobe, hair, props. We were shooting for a subtle transition. And the results were amazing.

The Actors

David managed the process to ensure each scene was perfectly set and lit in a way that would transform our actors from teenagers in the late 90s to present day parents. Our crew moved quickly from scene to scene. And, our performers moved through the long day almost effortlessly, delivering performances that spanned the emotional spectrum — from nervous teens to loving parents. All while patiently going through the process of hair and make-up four different times.

Putting it all together.

When we wrapped the shoot we turned the film over to Barnett Keil and the talented team at Cutters. Barnett, along with editorial assistant David Andreini, provided several different editorial options. And the story quickly came to life.

We settled on a creative direction and worked through the process of client approvals with Chris and his SUBWAY® team, including: Sonja Tilki, Katie Behr, Jen Myers, Souk Outhavong, Heather and Steve.                      

So, can you age someone 20 years in just 30 seconds? The answer is yes. If you have a talented team to pull it off. Select the wrong team for the project and you might just end up aging yourself 20 years.