Can exploring your DNA change your life? In a heartwarming spot titled “The Sum of Us,” agency Naked Creative and Ancestry turned to Sequoia Content Director Stash Capar to show how learning about your ethnic heritage can alter your life’s course in a truly meaningful way. The sixty-second ad tells the story of Scott and Sarah, a young Canadian couple for whom the results of their AncestryDNA test has profound implications.
“Sum” opens with the couple learning something unexpected: they both have some Indian ancestry in their genetic history. “I already knew about my Indian ancestry,” says Scott in voiceover as we see him grocery shopping with his wife, “but Sarah’s discovery set us on a journey that would change our lives.”
That journey leads them to India, where they’ll adopt a young Indian girl, but before this reveal Capar’s camera lets us share their preparation. We see them shopping for Indian foods and learning how to cook it, followed by snippets of both struggling to master the pronunciation of words and phrases in Hindi. Next they’re mapping out their trip to Delhi, and we accompany them on their flight, eagerness mixed with nerves apparent on their faces, and eventually to the place where they meet their new daughter for the first time. It closes with a voiceover that says “DNA not only creates life, it can change one. How will your life change?”
This was Capar’s first project for Naked Creative Consultancy, the Toronto boutique agency that specializes in advertising, branding and design and content. One challenge he faced was covering the range of settings in the script in a single day of shooting. “The story spans many months, from the time the couple receives their Ancestry results to the time they adopt, so the relationship between the male and female leads evolves and changes with time,” he explains. “We had to create and capture all of these subtleties in an efficient way, while shooting out of sequence.”
Capar says the collaboration between Naked and his Sequoia Content team played a big part in realizing the script’s emotional message. “David Kenyon, Naked’s CD, was a pleasure to work with. He possessed a very clear vision, yet was open to changes that could result in a better film. From our initial meeting and conversation, I could tell this is someone who wants to do good work.”
The spot is cut to an evocative acoustic music track, “Something to Believe In,” by California-based singer-songwriter Katie Herzig, and was edited in-house at Naked by editor Nick Nikitaras. As with the overall collaboration with the agency, Capar credits his role with delivering an outstanding final product: “Nick did a great job, and what was really special was that he was present throughout the entire process. He was sitting beside me at the initial pitch, taking in the vision I was presenting, and he was on set, watching things coming together and taking notes from the monitor. The result was a really quick turnaround, since our visions were aligned early on.”
“I remember coming by the agency several days after the shoot to see a cut,” Capar continues. “David and Natasha Lequepays, the account supervisor, were gathered around Nick in the edit suite. David was smiling and Natasha had tears in her eyes. I remember thinking, ‘Good – it must be working.’ A minute later I’d seen the edit and had only one thing to say: ‘Don't change a thing.’ And we didn’t.”