Not a lot of family brands and household names want to advertise using a car accident. So the agile team at Smoking Hippo Films had to tack when Oscar Meyer approached them to create their Cheese Dog ad. “The initial concept for the spot was that a cheese car and a hot dog car would race each other and crash together creating a delicious cheese dog,” director, Anthony Farquhar-Smith, told us. “The client wanted to make sure this crash looked intentional, so we changed from a race to a game of chicken.”

The idea provided some fruitful food for thought by association. “We referenced classic movie games of chicken from American Graffitti and Last Action Hero and endeavored to recreate this feature film feeling. For the build we used Paradigm Effects to build the model cars and Yamination Studios built the desert sets. We had a lot of fun designing the cars, channeling drag race vehicles and seventies muscle cars.”

We noticed that big screen look from the start as the “food vehicles” square off in the desert sun—not an easy feat on such a miniature scale. “The biggest challenge was to create the most epic feeling film, whilst having to shoot on a small set,” Farquhar-Smith continued. “Our Director of Photography Simon Paul approached his lens choice as though it was a live action shoot, and carefully collaborated with the set builders to create the maximum sense of scale through perspective and color tricks.” This is clear and effective from the opening low angle, close-up shot.

“We used every inch of the space we had at Clapham Road Studios, squeezing in two sets, a food stylist and cooker for the pack shot and a blue screen area for the cotton wool explosion cloud!”

That food explosion is, of course, our favorite part.

Since the ad, Farquhar-Smith has moved on to pitch new projects through Not To Scale in London and is also continuing to shoot a short film, ‘Drawer,’ a love story between a padlock and a key. “It has been some years in the making,” he said, “but recently, spurred on by having a small home studio during Covid, I have kept this shooting space and will hopefully finish the film by the end of the year.”

You can find the ad in all the usual places, on YouTube, Instagram, and Vimeo (see above), plus it’s still airing on some US TV channels just in time for summer grilling.

For more BTS on the shoot, check out the production stills below: