Toyota Line of Scrimmage crew visits Black Belt

Published 11:07 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The city of Demopolis plays host this week to a crew of 10 individuals from Saatchi and Saatchi, the Los Angeles-based firm responsible for the production of the “Toyota Line of Scrimmage” segment that will feature nearby Newbern’s Sunshine High School later this fall.

“The theme we’re doing is the eight gutsiest teams in the country,” writer Bob Fremgem said of the 2008 campaign’s focus. “Gutsy is a very subjective term.”

According to Fremgem, the promotion, which highlights eight different high schools from around the country, enlisted a selection criteria that was in no way performance based.

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“It’s about showing up and doing it every day,” Greg Wells, creative director, said.

Well and Fremgem combined to come up with the concept for the 2008 campaign, which features each school in two different segments that air during halftime of NBC’s “Sunday Night NFL Football” throughout the season.

“(Sunshine) is defined as very gutsy because they don’t have a lot of guys, numerically,” Fremgem said of a Tiger team that continues to practice hard and play hard despite a slew of injuries to an already small number of players.

“It’s been one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done in advertising,” Wells said of the promotion that he described as giving each featured school and community a voice.

The crew, which has already visited Phoenix, Ariz.; Parkersburg, Iowa; Frederick, Md.; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Fayetteville, N.C., this season, paid its first visit to Sunshine High Tuesday.

According to Wells, the crew generally utilizes its first two days at a location to acclimate itself with an area and scout for good places to shoot.

“We just look for locations that kind of lend themselves to the concept,” Wells said.

Today, the crew will film the team during its full-pad practice. On Thursday, they will shoot interviews with coaches, players and community members before filming Friday night’s game between Linden and Sunshine.

“It’s grassroots marketing for a major corporation,” Fremgem said of the effort.

However, despite its billing as the “Toyota Line of Scrimmage,” producer Amanda Miller is enamored with the fact the corporation behind the project minimizes itself in the actual presentation of each team.

“It really is to sincerely highlight the people that we’re going to visit,” Miller said. “I think the coolest part is that you see three seconds of truck at the beginning and that’s all you’re going to see. It really is all about (the people) and what they’re doing.”

The group, which took time out to visit Batter Up in Demopolis Friday night while Miller took part in Win 98’s weekly coaches’ radio show, will next head to Boys Ranch, Texas, before rounding out its trek in Big Piney, Wyo.