SHOOTING ON SPEC TO LAND ADVERTISING ASSIGNMENTS
CHRIS STANFORD FOR
ASHWORTH GOLF APPAREL
It was creative director
It all started with a fashion spread Stanford shot for Golf Digest in
Kevin Buth of Zambezi in
Los Angeles who suggested
Chris Stanford do a test
shoot for Ashworth, the
golf apparel brand owned
by Adidas. Stanford was
reluctant. “I was worried
they’d get me for an
editorial price, and use the
images for advertising,” he says. But he trusted Buth, and it paid off—
with work not only for Ashworth, but other clients, too.
early 2012. Buth saw it and called Stanford, explaining that he wanted
to pitch a campaign idea to Ashworth, inspired by the Golf Digest spread.
Buth’s idea was to shoot a print campaign featuring four golf
pros traveling around California, playing different courses. He
wanted the campaign to emphasize the friendship, camaraderie
and adventure, not the mechanics of golf. “We wanted to go
back to the spirit of the game,” he says. “A lot of times, to prove
a vision or piece of creative you can’t just source inspiration or
reference, you have to go make it,” Buth told PDN via email. He
approached Ashworth with the idea, and showed them some of
Stanford’s work. “[They] said ‘Let’s go make it happen.’”
The plan for the test was to take a one-day road
trip to the Sandpiper Golf Club in Santa Barbara with
four non-professional golfers, including Zambezi and
Ashworth employees. Stanford, who has a background in
photojournalism, documented the trip.
“I shoot a lot, and I shoot quickly,” he says. He shot the
Any faux moments or bad players are exposed by the smallest
players on the course, having a meal and drinking beers on
the beach. “It was a freewheeling shoot, doing whatever we
wanted to do.”
Afterwards, Stanford submitted his take to Buth, who
edited the work. “It helps he has years of golf experience so
there are lots of gems. In the golf category you can’t fake that.
flaw,” Buth says.
Ashworth “loved” the test images, Stanford says, and
signed off on a campaign. The brief was to re-shoot the test,
but with six pro players at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific
Palisades. The key players were veteran Fred Couples and
rising star Justin Rose. “It was a little bit [about] passing the
torch,” Stanford says of the shoot. Buth adds that the goal was
to “capture people and the Ashworth brand in uncontrived,
casual, natural moments.”
The shoot took place in November 2013. Stanford says the
golfers hit the course and started sharing stories. His only
instruction to them was “keep telling stories and just play.”
It was a lot more complicated than the test shoot, however.
RIGH T, TOP: For a test shoot to win an Ashworth Golf campaign, Chris
Stanford spent a day documenting four friends enjoying a beautiful
day on the links. “It was laid-back California cool. We wanted to capture
the spirit of the game,” he says. RIGH T, BOT TOM: The actual campaign for
Ashworth was a reprise of the test shoot, with top professional players
instead of amateurs. INSET, ABOVE: Chris Stanford.
Stanford estimates there were 100 or more people on set, including
Meanwhile, Buth and Stanford did a second test shoot for
the golfers’ entourages, stylists, groomers, producers, agency creatives,
client representatives, and a video crew “shooting b-roll over my
shoulder,” Stanford says. “Kevin said to me, ‘Just do Sandpiper again
and I’ll keep everyone out of your way.’”
Ashworth ended up using the images in a print campaign and in a
TV spot. Ammirati USA saw the spot on the Golf Channel, and hired
Stanford to direct two TV ads for the PGA.
Ashworth last April. It was similar in many ways to the first test,
and once again, Ashworth bought the idea and signed off on another
campaign. The shoot was scheduled to take place in October.
Stanford says his success with the Ashworth test shoots has made
him less reluctant to shoot on spec, at least under certain conditions.
“If it were a project that we could really fall in love with and make
some interesting art, and it could possibly lead to a bigger campaign,
well, then I’m totally in.”