In School of Communications

BYU advertising and commercial music video advertisement impresses industry professionals and wins students $10,000 scholarship

BYU Communications majors Chris Petersen and Seth Mollerup brought the glamour of Broadway to the dirty reality of pest control in the inventive and ANDY award-winning advertising spec spot, “Pests Do Not Mess With the Orkin Man.”

The ANDYs are an international advertising competition held each year in New York City. High-profile industry professionals comprise the jury and the competition rewards campaigns that demonstrate “bravery, innovation and contagious thinking,” according to the website. The winners of the Glenn C. Smith student award receive a $10,000 scholarship as well as recognition from potential employers. The student advertising submissions are not actual campaigns created for the companies they promote, but mock commercials meant to highlight the skills of the advertiser.

Seth Mollerup, Brigham Kmetzsch and Chris Petersen discuss a scene. Photo credit: Bentley Rawle

Petersen came up with the idea of combining musicals and advertising during his stint working freelance for a small pest control company in Spokane, Washington. He was helping produce commercials and had the idea to write a musical to promote the company, but it never panned out. The idea stuck with him.

“On a study abroad this past summer Seth and I were watching the amazing and ambitious work presented at the Cannes festival in France, and we decided we wanted to try and do something crazy,” Petersen said. “That’s when I remembered the musical idea I had previously had. We decided that if we could strategically tailor the idea to Orkin’s brand history it could be a fun and fresh take on the pest control industry.”

Petersen and Mollerup both have a musical background, which they drew on to shape the ad. Mollerup spent a year playing trombone at the University of Washington, and Petersen was a jazz saxophone major at Whitworth University before transferring to BYU. The two chose to parody “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music” for the ad.

Chris Petersen examines the camera setup. Photo credit: Tori Petersen

“I just had this hilarious mental image of a gruff pest technician spinning in a field just like Maria in the opening number of ‘The Sound of Music,’” Petersen said. “I really wanted to see that happen.”

The story of the ad draws heavily on Orkin’s business practices and brand history. Each situation showcases an actual pest extermination service the company provides, and the video features a character named after the company’s founder, Otto Orkin, who is morally conflicted about killing animals.

The ANDY’s judges approved of the decision to include a commentary on the ethics of pest control. “This is genius,” said jury member Jaime Robinson, co-founder and chief creative officer of Joan. “It’s beautiful and it shows empathy for the audience too, because killing things is really hard.”

The process of creating the video showed a commitment to researching the company, understanding the pest control industry, engaging with the audience and working with other members of the College of Fine Arts and Communications.

Tori Petersen, Bentley Rawle, Dakota Moses, Brigham Kmetzsch and Adam Gaulke prepare to shoot a scene. Photo credit: Ian Forsyth

After writing the script and lyrics, finding the cast and putting together a barebones piano backtrack, Petersen and Mollerup brought their team to BYU’s Studio Y to record the vocal tracks. They worked with Justin DeLong, a senior majoring in commercial music, to direct the singers and mix the audio. DeLong also stepped in and sang one of the parts when the fifth actor dropped out. Including the commercial music program in the process gave Petersen and Mollerup access to additional talent and on-campus resources, while also allowing DeLong to participate in a multi-department collaborative project.

Petersen and Mollerup also brought in BYU School of Music alum Jordan Kamalu to orchestrate the music track. Kamalu is known for writing the music and lyrics for the original BYU musical “Single Wide.”

“I think our collaboration with the BYU commercial music program was invaluable,” Petersen said. “Seth and I both had a background in music before finding advertising, but what Justin and Jordan brought to the table definitely improved the quality of our production way beyond anything Seth and I could have done on our own.”

Another key team member was fellow advertising student, Bentley Rawle, a junior content creator in the advertising program’s Creative Track. Rawle was the cinematographer and director of photography for the film, and his craft and skill work with the camera led ANDY judge Pete Favat, chief creative officer of Deutsch North America, to say, “The production value on this was fantastic. It’s amazing when students can show up a bunch of professionals.”

The cast and crew of “Pests Do Not Mess With the Orkin Man” film a scene in St. George. Photo credit: Charlotte Mollerup

With a miniscule budget and a limited timeframe, Mollerup, Petersen, and the cast and crew headed down to St. George from Jan. 5 to Jan. 7 to shoot the video. The team put in around 12 hours of work each day, and Petersen spent the next two weeks editing the ad and working with Kamalu to complete the orchestration.

The hard work paid off when the ANDYs jury watched the ad. “It was a smart idea for the brand, and the execution was amazing,” said Kerstin Emhoff, co-founder and president of PRETTYBIRD. “Your ability to tell a story and bring those characters to life is phenomenal.”

Mollerup credits the video’s success to the sincere portrayal of the brand’s history and purpose and the inclusion of “human truths,” including the ethical implications of pest control. 

For Petersen and Mollerup, the purpose of creating the ad was not to receive acclaim or prizes. “We didn’t make this spot to win awards. We made it because we were passionate about the idea and wanted to see it come to life,” said Petersen. “The awards are an amazing validation of something we always believed in and we’re thrilled a lot of people are enjoying our work and reaching out to us about it. When it comes down to it, entertaining people is one of the big things that advertising and the arts is all about!”

Read more about the award and the students’ experiences on BYU News.

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