What the Puck?
as recalled by
Kerry Rasikas & Lisa Mulry
It's the 90s
Investor-backed Dot-Coms are setting up cool offices in big cities for throngs of young coders typing HTML. Herman Miller launches a new “performance” chair that New York magazine would call the “Dot-Com Throne”. MoMA acquires the radically designed chair for its permanent collection. Business Week names the Aeron chair “Design of the Decade” in 1999.
Herman Miller starts SQA (Simple, Quick, Affordable), in part, to respond to the Dot-Coms’ urgent need for office furniture by offering limited-selection, quick-ship products including the Aeron chair. Rasikas Films has been producing videos for SQA through Dan Botruff, SQA’s marketing whiz. Botruff is put in charge of a showpiece Aeron video to play at the upcoming “Design of the Decade” event in New York – where Herman Miller would be seated next to other design honorees, Apple and BMW. No pressure.
Concept talk occurs over blank sheets and craft beers at a befittingly cool warehouse restaurant with SQA, their agency, Fairly Painless Advertising, and Rasikas Films . Several ideas are tossed around. None gain traction. Fairly Painless Creative Director, Peter Bell, reveals his brilliant, two-word idea that would evolve into a global campaign: “office hockey”.
Now to film this new game – or enough of it to be convincing. Production meetings result in “must haves” including a board check, saves and errant pucks. Rasikas Films’ Producer/AD Lisa Mulry recruits high school hockey Coach Joe to help guide talent auditions (which resemble scrimmages) and as technical advisor on the 35mm film shoot. Fish bowls, vintage bikes and other dot-comish stuff is gathered by set/props maven, Jan Bridgeman. Various densities of paper-wad pucks are constructed and tested. DP Peter Sensor explores off-speed, slo-mo, chair-cam and bullet-time camera techniques. Mulry negotiates the perfect warehouse office location with room to roll. While the creative team’s consensus was to simply film hockey action, Director Kerry Rasikas mulls over a finale involving a lost puck that he’ll try at the shoot.
It's a Smash
The video is a hit. There is no embarrassment at the New York event. A Herman Miller executive exclaims ”that should be on the Super Bowl!”. A few complaints of white male bashing emerge. (It never runs on the Super Bowl and the bashing complaints are ignored.)
"Office Hockey" : 60
Director of Photography
Music & Sound Design
Theresa Host Barry
The Office Hockey video is revised into a thirty-second TV spot in dozens of languages and is broadcast around the world for years.
Fairly Painless Advertising expands Office Hockey into print ads, posters, rule books, game events and more.
Office Hockey goes on to win local and regional ADDYs including Best of Show – and goes deep into the national ADDYs. It’s also recognized in the acclaimed Communication Arts magazine.
Over seven million Aeron chairs have been sold worldwide.
Three, nicked and scratched from the film shoot, are still in service at Rasikas headquarters.