City Mill is expanding its ohana with new cartoon characters
CITY Mill's family is getting bigger, but not in the sense that store No. 9 is in the works anytime soon.
Your first glimpse of the new family members will come Sunday in the store's print and television advertising.
City Mill Co. Ltd. Vice President Carol Ai May said the company wanted "a Hawaii family, but a unique family" to showcase in its ads and TV spots that would break through the clutter.
In talking about doing something different, "the idea of doing something animated came up," said freelance television director Gary Baker, who has worked on City Mill advertising for at least 10 years.
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Starting Sunday, City Mill is adding an animated Hawaii family for its advertising and TV spots. CLICK FOR LARGE
The experience has been "terrific" and "a dream come true."
"You think up ideas and talk to the animation team and lo and behold, you see it," Baker said. "It's an amazing thing."
Animation added challenges too, though, such as, what color to make the family's skin and whether to show them wearing rubber slippers. That might send the wrong safety message, were they shown working on a project, May said.
May describes herself as the "wedding planner" in the City Mill advertising process.
Apropos of a multi-generational hardware-and-more-store for builders and do-it-yourselfers, May used her advertising background to build a team to create the new family, starting with Baker as a sort of construction manager. His production roots go back to 1975 at KGMB-TV and its HPC production house.
But Baker said, "The real heroes in this are Big D (Productions)."
Animation used to be a cumbersome process requiring use of Los Angeles or New York companies, but "the quality level we're getting exceeds, in my mind, a lot of the stuff that you can get (in those cities,)" Baker said. "In terms of the sense of humor and talent they bring to it, it's just first-rate."
Half of Kailua-based Big D TV Inc., dba Big D Productions, is Hawaii-born-and-raised Henrik Van Ryzin. His wife Denise is the other half.
He graduated from Mid-Pac, she laughed, when asked the requisite local question. "Everybody asks that," she said. She's originally from Chicago, so moving to Hawaii "was just horrible," she laughed some more.
Their goal was to "bring a different look to the (City Mill) spots, but for a decent price," Van Ryzin said. "We're not Hollywood. We're not going to charge $1,000 a second."
Big D has several local clients, having worked on Fernandez Fun Factory ads and in-store graphics since 2001. It is also helps create interactive educational DVDs, some of which are in use in China and Taiwan, others of which will appear in Hawaii classrooms.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org