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"Something to Believe In": Something to get stuck in your head
By Sean Smith
Fort Wayne Reader
I remember it as if it were only yesterday, stumbling home in the bitter cold a few hours past midnight after one too many gin gimlets, brushing all the past due notices and utility bills aside to slump onto the couch and fall asleep to some television. As I was bathed in the light from the TV screen, the room filled with a holy chorus. Images of school children and blue collar workers, basketball nets and local landmarks danced in front of my eyes to the uplifting music. Suddenly, Ryan Elijah, Curtis Smith and Linda Jackson were looking back at me and smiling. Behold: Something to believe in!
Ok, maybe that never really happened. But it could have.
Michael Franti once described television as the drug of the nation, breeding ignorance and feeding radiation. But not everyone feels that way about network television and one of those people is Tad Frank, Director of Marketing and Promotions at Indiana’s NewsCenter.
You’ve certainly seen the fruits of his labor by now. Since January 15th, the networks of Indiana's Newscenter have been broadcasting the “Something To Believe In” anthem day and night. You might think it's strange that a network news team would promote “something to believe in” and you might find it even stranger that they would present it in the form of a music video. But why not? It's not like MTV airs music videos anymore.
The reason for the anthem is simple, says Frank, "We really wanted to do a campaign that highlighted our area and that connected with what we identify with as Northern Indiana. There are certain things about being a Hoosier that register. From Hoosier hysteria in basketball, to certain scenes in your mind that you picture growing up, to certain staples in Fort Wayne, like the Lincoln Tower. There are certain things that mean something to people as they grow up. For some people it's Cindy's Diner.”
“Through the merger (of 21 and 33 in 2005) a lot has changed in media,” Franks adds. “The one thing we wanted people to know is we're still who we are and we have anchors that are truly the most tenured anchor teams across the board in the country. The newest addition would be Curtis Smith and he has been here 15 plus years. We wanted to do something that would remind people that we can tell the story, we live it, and how proud we are."
Pride, says Frank, is what it is all about. The Super Bowl match-up between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears is a recent example of that pride and has become the focus of a different version of the campaign.
But let's get back to the original campaign. The one that kicked off half a month ago at five o'clock. How did it come about? Where was it filmed? WHO IS THAT GUY SINGING?
Frank explains, "We have the John Mellencamps and Henry Lee Summers and there's a distinctive music sound to them. The instruments used. The African-American back-up singers. So we wanted it to be a tip of the hat. When the music company came back with samples, the first few rounds were jingles. “Something To Believe In” was not in the initial concept."
But after Frank explained his connection to the area and what he was going for in the spirit of the campaign, the music company commented that it seemed he truly believed in the community. Thus, the new campaign was born. Frank describes it as, "a song first, that identified with the station. It's a pride anthem for our area."
Frank admits that Mellencamp was an inspiration for the song, but he was careful to keep it from being a rip-off piece. He also mentions the unfortunate timing of Mellencamp's alignment with Chevy for a pairing of his song, "Our Country," and their line of pick-up trucks. He points out, "Chevy has no Hoosier connections."
The bulk of the shooting took place in Indiana. Some shots were tougher than others and some were just plain impossible to shoot. Since filming took place around Christmas-time, the weather was a factor, and shots of 'definite landmarks' like the Children's Zoo and Appleseed Park were passed over in favor of locations deemed more winter-friendly (though Frank says these locations will probably show up in later versions of the campaign). The shot of the airplane took three weeks to set up, while the shoot inside the GM plant was delayed due to security and safety. The 5% of screentime that the singer, Jeff Skorik, receives was shot in Nashville since it was just as easy to find an open field and downtown setting for him to perform in while they continued to finish filming around the end of last year.
As for the man singing the song, Skorik is originally from the Mid-West, but has recently made his way to Nashville in hopes of getting more attention and a record deal. He currently has a few albums under his belt and you can find more info on him at: www.jeffskorik.com
Frank had this to say about Mellencamp vs. Skorik, "Jeff is a Mid-West guy who identifies with Mellencamp who doesn't really sound like Mellencamp. He has his own style. The music is similar but there's no comparison. The association makes the comparison."
So far the reaction to the campaign has been positive and according to Frank, "The second day it aired it was already on YouTube.com and radio stations are getting requests for it. The two minute version of the campaign really gets the emotion across and it's more distinctive than we thought it would be. It has exceeded expectations. We usually get a couple e-mails about a story, for this we have had an unbelievable amount."
So why was the song performed by a random guy who doesn't even live in Indiana? Why not solicit local talent for the campaign? Frank has a very good answer for the first question and an even better answer for the second. He says that he had plans to include local talent at the start of the process, but admits he was very short on time. “I had a relationship with this company for over a dozen years. I knew I could talk to them and get it done well.”
As for the second question: “We're gonna have local bands doing it. Absolutely! I think now that people know what it is, that will work now. This isn't going to go away in about a month. We're going to try to see what sort of unique things we can do with it."