Portfolio: Retail Across America | LAI Video

Retail Across America

We were delighted to dramatically expand upon and explore the National Retail Federation’s This is Retail campaign through Retail Across America — an ambitious road trip video series that had our crew making mix tapes and cruising from coast to coast. During a year and a half, we captured the moving stories of retailers big and small, visiting 10 states and producing nearly 40 videos for the public-facing initiative.

A Campaign Within a Campaign

This is Retail launched in 2013 as a way for NRF to sharpen the industry’s focus on careers, community and innovation. But this wouldn’t be accomplished with infographics, studies and some stock photos. We needed to feature retailers as the face of this campaign, and Retail Across America became the literal vehicle to travel to the storytellers. From department stores to candy shops to malls to fashion boutiques to recreation outlets to honest-to-God t-shirt bakeries, this series became the best — maybe the only — way to showcase a wildly-diverse world of retail.

Flavor of the State

Both in its planning and presentation, RAA was divided into separate state sub-series. This allowed us to explore the connection between geography and local retail trends. In Utah, we focused on the state’s natural beauty and unique opportunities for adventurers. In New England, we examined family legacy and multi-hundred year-old businesses. In Nevada we juxtaposed Vegas’s glamorous shopping scene with a new Downtown Renaissance movement. While most episodes featured a compilation of regional retailers, we also produced some standalone vignettes to give a spotlight on unique businesses (like that t-shirt bakery, Johnny Cupcakes) or unexpected jobs (like the L.L. Bean boot tester guy).

A Logistical Nightmare

After receiving the slate of destinations, Tori coordinated a massive logistical operation. For each week-long shoot, we were ready to travel across an entire land mass or hug major city hubs. Everyday, we had an itinerary that included two shop visits and significant road time. Before each trip, we would discuss potential themes. We’d recommend retailers and talk about original ways of capturing distinct stories. Different landscapes. Different people. As Favata, Jun and Phil were on-site, Tori and Loizou served as the team’s pit crew, planning alternate routes, researching new brands and feeding the team questions before each shoot.

We’re Going to Need a Bigger Car

Each trip, Favata and company touched down with 200 pounds of equipment — essentially a mobile studio stuffed into a RAA-branded rental car. From gentle dolly moves to epic crane reveals, the team had the tools to capture the small details of mom-and-pop boutiques and the grand scope of the country’s largest chain headquarters. Where we could, we packed a drone kit to capture the epic landscape views of the varying terrains. After lighting each stand-up interview, we followed around participants. They would share with us, in a lot of instances, their life’s work. And these very personal stories became the emotional backbone for the series #retailiseverything.

The Real Audience

While RAA is technically public-facing, the campaign was actually one of the most tangible ways for NRF to better engage with its membership. After all, they were traveling from DC to literally show up at the doorstep of dozens of retailers. Outside of the series, this became an unbelievable opportunity for NRF to get to know the people that they serve. NRF coordinated all shoots with the respective state retail associations, inviting longtime affiliates to be involved in selecting the right stories that represent their local communities. And the associations jumped at the offer, as each state’s episodes became a form of destination marketing — a chance to tell an online audience “Hey, look at what retail is doing for our state!”

Footage for Days

While the campaign retired at the end of 2016, the terabytes of data live on as the definitive library of footage for NRF. From shots of hands stocking shelves to testimonials on unique career paths, this archive is constantly recycled into NRF’s web presence and other hot-button initiatives, including national TV spots and a new credentialing program. But as NRF advances onto new agendas, Retail Across America will always serve as the definitive campaign — a national effort that not only featured members, but also required their participation. Learn more about the series on NRF's website. Also, follow our ongoing #retailmoviemaker hashtag on Instagram.