Brand invention agency Humanaut has launched a digital short film for Chattanooga, providing a candid assessment of how far the city’s come in the 50 years since Walter Cronkite infamously declared it “the dirtiest city in America.”
But instead of being a typical Chamber of Commerce-style puff piece, the video captures local voices talking about how much work still needs to be done on hot-button issues like education, affordable housing, inclusion and income disparity.
While it takes its subject seriously, the video has a light touch, showcasing “art, so much art” around town. It even pulls a fast one on Mayor Andy Berke’s staff member, who tells the filmmaking team, on camera, “We’re not doing the Cronkite thing. Please don’t do that.”
And speaking of City Hall, the Humanaut team surreptitiously videotaped some of their meetings with the staff using hidden camera to add another layer of unfiltered authenticity to the film.
The three-and-a-half-minute mini-movie points out that Chattanooga’s residents have been the impetus for change, from cleaning up the air to developing the waterfront and Innovation District to birthing “The Gig” fiber optic network. (For the uninitiated, that’s “Internet so fast we don’t even know what to do with it yet.” Fun fact, according to the video: You can download every episode of Seinfeld in 15 seconds!)
With the days of toxic smog behind it, Chattanooga has become “A City of Creators” that’s consistently appearing in all those “best places to live” lists, the video notes. It has so much to offer that at one point, someone in the video turns to camera says, “I’m worried I won’t be able to afford to live here anymore.”
And therein lies the yin and yang of a campaign that touts the city’s previous wins but doesn’t overlook the challenges ahead.
Berke used Humanaut’s “City of Creators” tagline as a platform for his recent State of the City address, announcing plans to amp up investment in affordable housing, early learning, public safety and business innovation. He also posted the video on Facebook, gathering comments like this one: “Informative, well-paced and funny – relief from the usual anodyne and dulcet-toned civic boosterism.
Creative Agency: Humanaut
Copywriter: Dan Jacobs, David Littlejohn
Strategist: Andrew Clark (Chief)
Chief Creative Officer: David Littlejohn
Designer: Coleson Amon, Bethany Maxfield
Content Director: Dan Jacobs