Kean gets visitors from Mars, sort of.
By: Brigit Bauma
If you were on Kean campus a few weeks ago, you might have seen some strange things going on around campus. Large white trucks littered parking lots. Normally clear hallways, rooms and lounge areas were covered by electronic equipment and directors chairs. Natural settings were transformed into something from another time and space.
Even the people walking around campus just didn’t seem to quite fit in. Some were carrying heavy equipment; others were walking around with headsets. You might have even seen someone who looked like they just came out of a time machine, wearing brightly colored shirts with patterns from thirty plus years ago.
Do not be alarmed. No one entered the twilight zone. These people were not from the FBI, outer space or early historical eras. Instead, they were workers filming a commercial.
A production company was hired by the Mars candy company to film a commercial on Kean University’s campus on November 19 and 20. They were filming commercials for Snickers and Twix Bites, according to Production Designer Jason Edmonds and Monica Hoyt.
“We work for the production company, which is hired by the advertising agency, which is hired by the client,” said Edmonds.
A few different commercials were being filmed all over campus, said DK Bowser, one of the actors. The places mentioned by Edmonds were Townsend Hall, Downs Hall, Hutchinson Hall, and the STEM building. Each setting was to be set in a different time period.
The commercials start off in present day with a spokesperson talking about the new Bites, explained Edmonds. Then, it will flash back to a scene that explains why the bite-sized candy pieces never happened before. Usually with something bad or silly, like being knocked out, involved as a part of the explanation.
“[In the commercials] are different things that kind of happened to make people say, ‘Oh! That’s why it never happened.’ And we’re doing three different time periods, 50s, 70s, and 80s,” said Edmonds.
As to why the Kean University campus was chosen, one of the actors hired for the shoot, Robbie Suvlett, said that usually a location manager or scout will go to a few different locations to check out the sites. They look to see what would work at the site to best accomplish their task. From there, they make a decision on the location for the shoot. Apparently Kean fit the bill.
“We needed to find a single place with quite a few different looks,” said Edmonds. “We’ve actually shot here before. We were with Xerox.”
The Kean campus has been used a few different times for commercials in the past. A Xerox and Ducati commercial was shot in the STEM building, the one Edmonds worked on. An M&M commercial, also a brand of Mars, was shot in the STEM building too.
Students all across campus, along with some faculty members, didn’t know that the video shoot was taking place until the day of. Some, like Akeem Miller, a sophomore political science major, didn’t even know that they were here. Those who did find out either happened to run into the bewildering video shoot set up or through word of mouth. Edward Bogus, junior economics major, was told by his teacher while Joseph Flemming, a One Stop Service Center worker, overheard students talking about it.
But it is not surprising that students hadn’t heard about the commercial beforehand. No students were involved in the shoot. Everyone involved in the shoot were from outside of the college, either with the production company or hired by the production company.
Bogus and Miller, however, were not perturbed by the idea that Kean students were not involved. They thought that the commercial was a good thing. It was a way to publicize the school, even without Kean students.
“I don’t really have a feeling about it, as long as they show something from Kean University,” said Miller.
Flemming didn’t mind either. However, he did feel that students should have been offered the opportunity to be involved, especially the drama students.
“I think [the commercial] is good,” said Flemming. “But it would have been cool to ask the drama students to audition, even for back up roles… the fact that they weren’t involved, could make them feel disenfranchised because they might feel they can’t get to be an extra on their own campus.”
The commercials are set to hold television spots all across the nation. And it will come out sooner than you’d think.
“It will probably be out in the next thirty days,” Edmonds said.