Woodford Reserve- Derby Spot

Covid Case Study: Chronicle Cinema Re-Writes its Production Playbook to Pull Off Viral Woodford Reserve Spot


Louisville, Ky. (May 1, 2020)

Garnering more than 1.3 million hits in about 24 hours, Woodford Reserve's My Old Kentucky Home video both celebrates the Kentucky Derby and laments its COVID-induced delay. Produced by Chronicle Cinema and featuring cellist, writer and composer Ben Sollee, the spot will run during NBC's Virtual Derby at Home Party, Saturday May 2. While the ad tells a compelling story, the making of it during a global pandemic is a story of its own.

The breath-taking piece takes place inside an empty Churchill Downs with Sollee's version of the state song echoing throughout the hollow structure before being lifted out with the wind. The minimalist motif is beautiful in its simplicity, but the production was anything but simple. Ten crew members cautiously maneuvered around one another to maintain social distancing as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on logistics.

"I saw the visual concept and heard Ben's track and immediately got goosebumps, but then thought this was going to be a daunting task," said Chronicle Cinema owner Zach Meiners. "We developed a new playbook for this shoot. There was no room for error. And, I couldn't be happier with the process and the product."

Advertising agency Energy BBDO (Chicago), working for Woodford Reserve, came up with the concept and the visual elements. They contacted Chronicle because of its reputation for high-quality cinematography established around the country. Chronicle also has a wealth of experience working with top brands in the Kentucky bourbon industry. Energy BBDO, was on an extremely tight deadline and knew Chronicle could produce.