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Burlington Prof Goes Undercover in Local Superbowl Spot

State of the Arts


Published February 4, 2009 at 6:22 a.m.

Everyone talks about those big-money national Superbowl ads. But last Sunday, a local commercial for Burlington’s Heritage Toyota drew eyes when it premiered on WPTZ just after half-time. Directed by Andy Rosenthal of Colchester’s Mount Mansfield Media, the spot features familiar faces — and the kind of sleek look and zippy narrative one might not expect from a local campaign.

In an “undisclosed car dealership,” a deep-voiced secret agent pursues his mission to show an unsuspecting customer she could be getting better prices elsewhere. The action is edited in the breakneck style of the Bourne films; at one point, the agent — played by Burlington College prof and filmmaker Michael Fisher — tries some martial arts moves on an unfortunate salesman. Susan Palmer, familiar from her work with the Vermont Stage Company, plays the jittery customer, and BC alum Mark Covino also appears.

Rosenthal, 25, graduated from the college, too — like fellow filmmakers Adam and Evan Beamer, who also work for Mount Mansfield Media. The company was founded in 2006 by Jake Cunavelis, formerly of WCAX, and is currently crafting national web ads for Madhouse Munchies, starring Bode Miller. The small firm has “a good kind of competitive atmosphere,” says Rosenthal, “where we push each other to do better things.”

The director describes his Heritage ad as “a tribute to the Bourne Identity type of movies,” with parodic nods to “24” and The Matrix — in short, the kind of mini-movie where the hawking is almost subliminal. “We try to entertain people,” says Rosenthal. “When you have people barking up the camera [in an ad], it just annoys them.”