Name: The Herbert Brothers
Location: Batesville, Indiana
Year Founded: 2004
Specialties: We specialize in using humor and creativity to engage target audiences with entertaining advertising they want to see and share.
What inspired you to start your company?
We grew up using our imaginations and creativity in everything we did from making things to telling stories. We love entertainment. We love movies. We love great advertising that does more than just talk about a product or service but tells a fun story. We brothers are also very competitive and we inspire one another. And we absolute love to create.
How is it working together as a family?
There are five of us Herbert Brothers. And we’re not just brothers – we’re also best friends. And we each have our own individual experiences and strengths. From oldest to youngest: Joe has a background in art and design as well as computer programming; Dave is a wizard with numbers, has an economics degree and has experience managing companies; Matt was an animator for The Simpsons; Josh served in the US Army’s Special Operations Command, and was deployed twice to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom; and Pete has a degree in writing, specializing in comedic writing. We are all self-taught in the art of filmmaking and directing and have been successful in making that a career together.
While many of the brothers have spent time living in other areas, including LA, we grew up in Southeast Indiana. We love the midwest, and we love small towns. If feels like home, and we’re proud to make that our central location for operations. In addition, before starting a career in filmmaking, Joe Herbert was a partner in a website design firm in Southeast Indiana with several hundred clients in the region, and those great business relationships give the Herbert Brothers access to a variety of interesting locations to shoot commercials from restaurants, banks, and funeral homes to churches, libraries, schools, office buildings and more.
What was the first job someone hired you for?
When we first decided to get into filmmaking we knew a local company that had a product they were trying to get into mass market. We didn’t have any equipment, but we had a friend in college who access to check out some equipment from the university, and we created some product demo reels this company could use in selling their products.
What was the most technically challenging work you’ve created?
Our most technically challenging work to date has been a video we did for mercola.com. It was almost a four minute long commercial – essentially a branded short film based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – that involved a massive set that was built entirely by our father (with some help from us) which included an interior of a schoolhouse, and a large exterior with a yellow brick road. The shoot also required a great deal of custom costumes, specialty makeup, and a lot of children as actors. We also shot the entire exterior with a blue screen backdrop which then required some massive and beautiful motion tracked computer generated graphics, and special effects.
￼Which work or brand are you best known for?
We are most known for winning the Doritos Crash The Super Bowl Ad contest when our commercial, Free Doritos, aired during the Super Bowl and was ranked the #1 Super Bowl commercial of 2009. We won a million dollars from Doritos and went on a whirlwind of media interviews including being guests on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Which project is your most underrated?
We made a couple Pepsi Max commercials that Pepsi decided not to air during the Super Bowl, and we believe those spots very likely would have been just as successful for Pepsi as our Doritos commercial was for Frito Lay.
Who is the most interesting brother?
If you ask any of the brothers who the most interest person is (or who the best looking is, or who the smartest brother is, etc.), the answer will be unanimous, as everyone’s response would of course be, “me.”
￼What emerging tech trend will have the biggest impact on your business?
Emerging technology has and will continue to be a big impact on our business – in a positive way. Because the technology, equipment, and software for making quality digital video continues to improve and become more and more affordable the power to create great filmmaking is put into the hands and minds of those who are most creative in their thinking, and not just to those with the deepest pockets.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
Our biggest challenge is finding the right creative partners (agency or client) that truly want to collaborate and build a trusting long lasting relationship. The best entertainment and comedy is the result of talented people trusted and empowered to do what they do best.
What do you make of the trend where brands are skipping their agency of record to work directly with production partners?
This is partly because, as mentioned earlier, technology, equipment, and software for creating video content is becoming increasingly better and far more affordable than ever before which puts the power into the hands who can use it the best, and into the minds of those who are extremely creative thinkers. Take our company for example. For ten years straight Anheuser-Busch took the coveted top spot in the Super Bowl, until Doritos finally did it with our commercial in 2009. We wrote, produced, directed and editing that spot, and we had a much smaller budget than any other spot in the Super Bowl. We love working with agencies, but we fill a very important cost effective, nimble, and creative space that many clients are hungry for. That said, we love and admire the work of ad agencies. They inspire us to improve. We look up to them like role models. We’d also love to create another Super Bowl commercial (not as part of a contest), and defend our title in that arena.
What is the best thing about working for yourselves?
Herbert Brothers Entertainment is the best company in the world, because we’re family and we’re the bosses. We have a lot of fun doing what we do, but we work very hard and put in a lot of hours. And when you work that hard and for that long… you better love what you do and who you do it with. And we do, greatly.
Where is the best bar in Batesville?
We have a reputation for our fondness for milk. Any bar that serves white and or chocolate milk is our favorite. And for those who don’t know us, it’s a great conversation starter when we walk into a bar and all start drinking milks.
Any wild company party stories?
Most are surprised to learn we’re not the wild party types. We enjoy going to things like sporting events, doing something competitive, or just hanging out or playing games. At parties we tend to just relax and enjoy life, each other, and good conversation.
Which industry boondoggle is most likely to send your employees to rehab: Cannes, AICP or SXSW?
Hold on, I need to google what a boondoggle is….
Care to share a joke?
Results from the world’s largest study of humor, by Dr. Richard Wiseman a few years back are very interesting to us. Jokes with an average of 101 words tended to be the funniest. Of all jokes involving animals, jokes with ducks tended to be funniest. It’s interesting how different cultures view humor. American’s love idiots and in particular they love when something unfortunate happens to someone else (partly why we designed our Doritos Super Bowl commercial the way we did), while some other countries prefer word play. I find this quite amazing, the following joke (a dumb one in my opinion) was the number one ranked joke in two different European countries. “Why do ducks have webbed feet? To stamp out fires. Why do elephants have flat feet? To stamp out burning ducks” Somehow, out of thousands of jokes, that one ranked number one in two countries.
Here is was the number one joke ranked by Americans: “Two guys are hunting in the woods, when one of them suddenly drops over dead. The other frantically calls 911. The operator answers, and the man says, “Help Help My friend… he just dropped over dead.” The operator calmly responds, “Ok, I can help. First, I want you to make sure he’s dead.” There is a slight pause, while the operator waits. Then she hears a gun shot. The man gets back on the phone and says, “OK, now what?”
What does the future look like for the Brothers?
We just finished shooting season one of a reality tv show that follows us behind the scenes making entertaining commercials, and we look forward to finding out when that will be airing on television. This summer we’re making our directorial debut on a feature film that we’re hired to direct. The movie is a comedy, and will be shot on location in Florida. A great place to be during the winter months, so the future looks fantastic.