“I'm mostly just excited to tell my family and friends about how I'm a bigshot ad exec now!" Shaun Stewart joked. He's been an Advance Auto Parts employee for fourteen years, starting out taking store support calls and working his way up to a payments and risk project management position. Shaun never imagined that his first Innovation Garage contest submission would be selected to become a video production.
About the Innovation Garage
For the uninitiated, Innovation Garage is a platform that offers Advance employees a way to voice ideas and collaborate on various challenges to improve the company. Past challenges have focused on DIY, human resources and safety. Earlier in 2020, employees were invited to submit unique marketing ideas to make DieHard the number one selling battery this winter. Close to 300 ideas were submitted for consideration by Advance team members. After the submission period closed, team members voted for and commented on their favorite ideas and then finalists pitch their proposals to senior leaders for a chance to win Advance stock – up to $10,000!
“To be honest, the idea came to me really quickly when I read the challenge. I wish I knew how to harness that quick thought process more often!" Stewart joked. His winning idea focuses on a town hit by a blustery winter storm. The day is saved by a snowplow operator (originally cast in his imagination as Bruce Willis) who has a fleet of snowplows that haven't moved since last winter. As a result, they all have dead batteries, and so he relies on a DieHard Platinum AGM to jumpstart the whole fleet into action. Stewart wanted to show that since the pros know they can count on DieHard to get the job done, “the people in the town in turn depend on DieHard."
Throughout his childhood, Stewart experienced many snowstorms like the one in his proposal – the type where store shelves are clear of bread and milk. He thought that it would be an easy scenario to relate to, and in the end, the judges agreed.
Were you happy with how you saw your idea come to life?
“I totally was! It felt so professional, and the tools and equipment were top of the line, and it really made it magical to watch it morph into a quality piece of cinematography."
Filming During COVID
According to Stewart, the pitch process was something like being on Shark Tank (with the exception of it all being virtual). He worked with the marketing and finance departments to give him data for any questions he might get. “Since we did the whole thing remote via a Zoom call, it wasn't obvious how much sweating I was doing [while presenting]. I think that actually played to my favor!"
The actual filming of the commercial was also a little different than usual. Due to COVID restrictions, Stewart was on set “virtually." He and other contributors had a day-long Zoom call on the day of filming, and a camera lens allowed them to watch each take. “They allowed us to submit feedback in real time in case there was something we wanted done differently or whatever. I very much felt included during the whole process."
Behind the Scenes Video of Shaun Stewart's Commercial
Stewart's ideas finally came to life in full on January 7 when “Winter Demands DieHard" aired on Advance Auto Parts' Youtube channel. In the end, Stewart was very pleased. “It looks so much better than I was hoping," he said.