The Central Kentucky chapter of the American Heart Association chose entrepreneur and former Governor John Y. Brown as its Man of the Year for 2020, and they turned to Wrigley Media Group to create a tribute to be shown at the Association’s annual Heart Ball. Our charge was to create an engaging and heartfelt portrait of Governor Brown as seen through the eyes of those who know him best and to connect his story to the work of the American Heart Association. We wanted to celebrate his life and character, provide a focal point for the Heart Association event, and furnish a lasting keepsake for the Governor, his family, and his friends.
John Y. Brown’s signature achievements in business and in government date back to the 1960s and 70s, when he made Kentucky Fried Chicken into a worldwide brand, won an ABA basketball championship as owner of the Kentucky Colonels, and served a successful term as Governor. Rather than put him on camera, we decided to combine archival images with interviews with key figures who were present during each stage of his career. Through their words we told John Y. Brown’s story, including the cardiac illness that almost ended his life and which left him a grateful patron of the Heart Association. We were fortunate that are audience was already familiar with these four iconic Kentuckians: Brown’s accomplished former wife Ellie Moore, business leader Jim Host, the distinguished public servant Ted Bassett, and veteran legislator and lobbyist Terry McBrayer. We believed they would be articulate, knowledgeable, and devoted to the former Governor; we were not disappointed.
Given the context in which the piece would first be seen, we decided a running time of between five and seven minutes would be ideal—long enough to tell our story, but not so long as to overshadow the larger event. We built a set suggestive of a comfortable study in our studio and shot our interviews there, which gave us optimal control of lighting and audio. The archival images, taken from family albums, newspapers, and historical records, were of varying quality so our editor created a template in Adobe After Effects that would animate images and captions to the best advantage.
Wrigley Media Group has the equipment and personnel to create video at the highest standard, and this piece is no exception. What makes our work special, however, is the care and attention we give to our subjects and our clients. In this case, we had an empathetic understanding of John Y. Brown’s place in the history of our Commonwealth. Our interviewees spoke with warmth and affection, and we had appropriate supporting material, but we were able to assemble those elements successfully because we were ever mindful of the best interests of the Heart Association, its members, and its honoree.
The final video, delivered well in advance of the event, was warmly received by Governor Brown and the audience at the Heart Association annual ball. It was the visual centerpiece of the event and served as a springboard for family reminiscences delivered live by the Governor’s children. As we had hoped, it brought to life his achievements, even for attendees too young to remember his time in office, and personalized the important work of the Heart Association. It’s also a treasured memento for the Governor and his family.
Meanwhile, the Annual Ball at which the video was featured raised nearly half a million dollars in contributions. Our work on this video and others has justified the confidence the Central Kentucky Heart Association placed in Wrigley Media Group, and winning the trust of our clients is our definition of success.
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