DoorDash Comes to Sesame Street Neighborhood with a CG Assist
February 9, 2021

DoorDash Comes to Sesame Street Neighborhood with a CG Assist

Super Bowl audiences were treated with a visit by some special characters from Sesame Street during an ad for DoorDash, a leading on-demand local logistics platform, thanks also to a bit of digital assistance. 
Created in partnership with The Martin Agency and directed by Academy Award-winner Michel Gondry of Partizan, “The Neighborhood” – a high-energy TV, digital, and social campaign – stars actor and rapper Daveed Diggs and the Sesame Street Muppets. The spot is part of a multi-platform marketing campaign in the U.S. For the launch, DoorDash brought its new brand campaign to the Big Game in a 60-second TV spot that aired during the first Quarter.

The campaign reinforces DoorDash’s mission to grow and empower local economies and unveils new brand messaging around deliveries of neighborhood favorites beyond food, highlighting the breadth of DoorDash use cases and platform categories like restaurants and convenience.

“The Neighborhood” features Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, and puts community connection front and center. Debuting a re-imagining of the classic Sesame Street tune “People in Your Neighborhood,” the creative stars in addition to Daveed Diggs include beloved Sesame Street Muppets Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, and Rosita. Together, they celebrate the local neighbors who provide the many offerings available through DoorDash – including items like ramen, milk, shampoo, birdseed, mango smoothies, paper towels, and, of course, cookies.

“DoorDash’s mission has always been to empower any business on Main Street to thrive online, and last year we meaningfully accelerated that mission as we extended our platform to offer more to your door–from food to convenience items, household supplies, health and wellness, and more," said Christopher Payne, Chief Operations Officer at DoorDash. "What excites me about this campaign is that it tells the story of how we deliver all the best in your neighborhood in an authentic and engaging way and supports Sesame Workshop. This marks the first time we’ve shifted our brand image from a food delivery logistics company to a multi-category marketplace in a meaningful way, while celebrating the local heroes that make up the fabric of our neighborhoods."

Culver City-based creative studio JAMM provided the CG and finishing visual elements for the commercial. “The Neighborhood” was shot on location in New York over the span of four days. Meanwhile, JAMM was tasked with dissecting the printed screens and geo-CG environments to breathe life into the printed sets. JAMM mixed the plates to ensure the Sesame Street Muppets popped off the screen with accuracy and punctuality. 

“The process was very fluid,” explains VFX Supervisor/Lead Compositor Glyn Tebbutt, a frequent collaborator of Gondry for his commercial projects. “First, Michel worked closely with his production designer, Maxwell Orgell, to determine how he wanted it to look and feel. Since this campaign is very choreographed and performance-driven, about three weeks prior to the shoot we all began walking through the transitions to decide what was possible, then worked on setting those up.” 

Additionally, JAMM incorporated elements including a CG train, and added a bit of animation magic to the sequence where Grover flies. Working on Autodesk Flame for compositing, Foundry Houdini, Autodesk Maya and Maxon Redshift for the CG elements, as well as Foundry Nuke for roto, JAMM also completed plate work, clean-up and animation for the accompanying social teasers.
“The Neighborhood” showcases JAMM’s newest offering: color grading. Colorist Adam Scott connected with the client via remote sessions to set the look. Then working on Baselight, Scott created a palette that stays true to the natural light and primary color simplicity of Sesame Street, bringing a tinge of nostalgia to each frame.

“It was a wonderful collaboration between all parties,” Tebbutt remarks. “The Martin Agency has been fantastic; they fully embraced Michel’s process. We all agreed it didn’t need to be overly visual effect-y to sell its charm. With Sesame Street, it’s all about the musicality and spontaneity.”