Liberty graduate wins PEMCO contest

December 6, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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PEMCO Insurance introduced audiences to Sandals & Socks Guy, Goat Renter Guy and First Snowflake Freakout Lady through its offbeat advertising campaign highlighting Northwest Profiles.

Now, you can add I Don’t Need Sunscreen Guy to the list of quirky Northwest characters, after the company announced the winner of its contest seeking new profiles for the “We’re A Lot Like You. A Little Different.” advertising campaign.

Liberty High School graduate Alex Bell and a team of fellow University of Southern California students created the 30-second video poking fun at Northwesterners who leave the sunscreen at home in the hopes of soaking up the sun on their way to a natural tan. But the result is often more sunburn than tan, as the video illustrated.

“I saw somebody take off their sunglasses and they had a bit of a sunglass line on the side of their face, it was a tan, but then I laughed and thought of the people who take off their sunglasses and have those ridiculous burn marks,” Bell said. “So, we just rolled with it.”

Bell, along with fellow film school students Austin Thompson, Edd Benda and Ron Hill, came up with about 50 ideas before deciding to shoot and edit four of them. In addition to the winning video, the group also submitted Lawn Perfectionist Guy, Pickup Truck Swimming Pool Guy and Mr. Crazy Coupon Collector Guy.

Bell, a 2009 Liberty graduate, said the characters he met while growing up in the area inspired him.

“I just went through my mind of all of the people in my life and all of the things that I have done, and it was easy to come up with some ideas,” he said.

A group of judges, including Seattle Times columnist Ron Judd and Henry Dardenne, better known as the voice of the PEMCO ads, selected Bell’s submission to win the grand prize of $5,000.

“There were so many creative, clever and funny entries, that is was tough to choose the finalists,” PEMCO spokesman Jon Osterberg said. “In the end, our Northwest judges made the final choices. We like Alex’s submission because so many of our Northwest neighbors can relate to it, especially those west of the Cascades.”

The film school students plan to use the prize money to work on future projects, Bell said.

“I think I can speak for all of us when I say the whole ‘poor, starving artist’ thing has some truth to it,” he said. “So, it’s nice to be able to have some money to spend toward future endeavors.”

He’s not sure what exactly PEMCO will do with the video, but if the company decides to reshoot it with a higher production value, Bell said he hopes they enlist the star of the video, his fraternity brother Jake Rush, to do it.

While a student at Liberty, Bell had already caught the filmmaking bug and went on to produce video highlights of the Patriots’ sports teams and a video for the school administration, titled, “A Day in the Life at Liberty.”

Bell, who grew up in Newcastle, also won a Newcastle Chamber of Commerce Diamond Award for his community service work in 2007.

He is currently in his last semester at the prestigious USC film school. It’s been an unforgettable experience, he said, and he appreciates the relationships he has cultivated over the past four years.

“The one thing that I’ve been able to do that has been the most beneficial is just work with other film-loving students,” he said. “The hope is that sometime 10 to 15 years down the line we are continuing to work together, but instead of making little student films, we’re making big budget features for Disney, Marvel and Universal.”

 

On the Web

Watch Alex Bell’s prize-winning submission here and other entries in the PEMCO Insurance contest at www.youtube.com/northwesttypes.

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