Burlington Coat Factory has been around a long time—since 1924. Their focus on bringing value to their customers and tried-and-true product-forward advertising has made them a nationally recognized retailer. Recently, they wanted to do something a little different with their advertising. Rather than focus on the products, they wanted to focus on their dedicated and diverse clientele featuring a handful of aspiring artists in a series of videos designed especially for social media.
Jim Salzano was brought in by creative director Dean Stefanides to shoot the videos known by the hashtag #itsmystyle. While this is the first time Jim is working with Burlington, he’s worked on a number of projects with Dean over the years. Jim has been adding more and more video to his portfolio over the past few years (link to view his work with Macy’s and a personal series of videos featuring women in professions traditionally reserved for men).
They cast a wide net on social media to find the talent. Burlington wasn’t interested in more seasoned talent, kids that have already achieved some level of fame. They wanted normal, everyday kids on their way up.
The four selected—a rapper, beatboxer, photographer, and songwriter—are between the ages of 12 and 19. There was early discussion of shooting in a staged environment, but Jim was adamant that for the level of authenticity desired, they should shoot in their each of the subjects’ home environments.
“I just felt that it would be so much more real. I think you have to give people more than what they ask for these days,” he said.
“We went to their homes, to see the places where they live, create, and play. Kayciblu lives in New Hampshire but when she’s in New York for auditions she stays with her grandmother. So we packed up and headed on over to grandma’s and shot her right there in the living room.”
In her video, Kayciblu talks about being bullied in the fourth grade and how rapping helped her to get through it (she’s now 12). “I love the spotlight. People are shocked when I tell them I’m 12,” she said.
They also shot B-roll around where the kids lived. Jim brought his camera and an assistant on the scout days so they’d be able to show the agency what each location looked like, and quite a bit of that early test footage ended up in the final spots.
On the day of a shoot, Jim takes up the position of talk show host with his crew behind him. For these types of videos, there are no teleprompters and no script. There’s only a list of questions that have been devised between Jim and the agency, and Jim’s job is to get his subjects to open up and reveal something about themselves.
“There’s no intro and they never mention Burlington, except for the super at the end, ‘Burlington celebrates your personal style.’ This is a breakout for Burlington to get closer to their real people talent by shooting them out of the store and in their homes,“he said.
Jim worked with production team Somoroff +. “The collaboration is really one of the things I love about the film business. I think you’re only as good as the people around you.”