How a Super Bowl commercial is made: One Charlotte agency’s story

For many people — especially those whose favorite team isn’t in the big game — the Super Bowl is as much about commercials as it is football.

But what goes into the process of making a buzz-worthy commercial on TV’s biggest night?

Charlotte advertising agency Tattoo Projects, nestled underneath Camden Cotton Mills Apartments in uptown Charlotte, has been creating TV spots and other advertising elements for national brands since 2006. And, as they love to remind you, they are NOT a tattoo parlor.


Tattoo Projects teamed up with Sheetz convenience stores to create Super Bowl campaign that showcases Sheetz’ food compared to the assumptions of gas station food being outdated and inedible food.

The two companies started preparing for the commercial four months ago, which is a short time frame compared to an average six/seven-month campaign. Tattoo Agency has to pick the right concept, script, actors, production company, etc. while still getting approval from Sheetz as they delve further into completing the commercial.

Here’s the final product:

Sheetz Dangerous Assumptions 30 from Tattoo Projects on Vimeo.

So how did this come together?

The majority of the filming took place in Los Angeles but the editing and re-mastering happened at Tattoo’s Charlotte base. The company chose the director duo of Fatal Farm, which filmed those hilariously wacky Old Spice ‘Real Man’ commercials.

The actors wore fake donkey heads. The ad uses green screen technology to make it seem like they were driving. The donkeys’ moving mouths were actually actors wearing fake donkey dentures and makeup to voice the “hee haws!”

“It takes a whole village to transform people into donkeys,” said Rudy Banny, Tattoo Projects CEO and Creative Director. “They really brought the script to life while balancing that line between campy and too realistic.”

Here’s a look behind the scenes of the commercial:

Dangerous Assumptions – Behind The Scenes from Tattoo Projects on Vimeo.

“Edgy advertising is part of Sheetz’ DNA,” said Tammy Dunkley, Sheetz manager of brand communications and advertising. “But we never sacrifice clarity of message. This is the kind of campaign we expect from Tattoo Projects. Bold, creative, and on-message.”

Why are companies like Sheetz releasing their Super Bowl commercials before the Panthers and Broncos even kick off?

It’s been a trend for the past two years and studies have shown that the videos released a week before actually get more hits and “buzz” during & weeks following the big game rather than one being released on Sunday night.

It’s just like what the Sheetz commercial says: “Don’t Ass-ume” it’s easy to put together a Super Bowl ad.

Stay and watch those Super Bowl commercials. Your multiple bathroom breaks and extra helping of wings can wait.

Photos: Courtesy of Tattoo Projects