We had a great time a few weeks ago making our new Kissing Tree commercial. Based on the theme of “All Roads Lead to Kissing Tree,” the spot was a collaboration between our Kissing Tree Marketing Team, our creative partners at The Honor Roll, and Austin-based film production company Forest and Pine. We sat down with The Honor Roll co-founder and creative director Kate Donaho to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on how the spot came about and what it was like to bring the vision to life.
KT: Thanks for doing this, Kate! So tell us about how the commercial came about.
Kate: For the past year, we’ve been doing ads that feature the real life stories of the people who live here at Kissing Tree. We couldn’t make this stuff up! The colorful lives they’ve led, the way they give great voice to what it means to live in the community—it’s golden. And it’s so much more compelling and genuine than any “concept” that we could come up with. So, of course, after a year of interviews and blog posts featuring real people it made sense to give it another dimension and bring real people in to our tv spot.
KT: Where did the “All Roads Lead to Kissing Tree” idea come from?
Kate: So many people come from all over Texas and the country to start the next chapter of here lives at Kissing Tree, and they all have interesting journeys that brought them here. We love the notion that with Kissing Tree, as with Texas, people aren’t born here but they get here as fast as they can. We wanted to show that “coming together” process in a fun way with people gathering at The Mix using all kinds of transportation, from golf carts and e-bikes to motorcycles and convertibles and even kayaks and their own two feet! And the best part is, they’re all real Kissing Tree residents.
KT: That IS the best part of the spot! Tell us about the stars!
Kate: Let’s see—you’ll see Dave and Linda Lacinski and Ruth and Brad Greebon playing golf, Kevin Clifton on his motorcycle, and Heidi and Dave Lanford on their e-bikes. The KT Hill Huggers running club makes an appearance, as well as Norma and Bren Picacio-Jones walking their sweet dog Sophie—she was so well behaved! I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. Also, Mark Burroughs did the voice over—who has worked in radio for years and now works here at Kissing Tree, too! So we used a lot of local talent.
KT: Was it hard to get folks to participate?
Kate: You will not meet a more game group of people than the residents of Kissing Tree! They are up for whatever, whenever! It ended up being easy, not only because of how engaged they are in telling the story of the community, but also because of how connected Kevin Wilson, KT’s lifestyle director, is. We told Kevin what we were thinking, and it only took a couple of phone calls and we had everyone cast!
KT: What was the day of filming like?
Kate: We actually shot over 2.5 days, and as you can see from the spot, we had all modes of transportation. We had to shoot as early as we could in the morning to get the golf shot, because as much as KT wanted to have a great TV spot, we didn’t want to interview with people’s real golf games! We had to be done on 9th hole by the time the first people who had teed off were at the hole.
KT: To get some of the shots did you use a drone?
Kate: Yes! To shoot the trailing of the motorcycle, we had some drone footage, but also, at one point Taylor, our amazing director, was hanging out of the sunroof of an SUV with a very expensive camera! He also borrowed a golf cart and rode alongside for the golf cart shot—it was like a car chase scene!
KT: How was it to shoot the ending at The Mix?
Kate: The goal of the ending scene was to show all the modes of transportation and all the people arriving at The Mix for some festivities. We were a little bit nervous about the logistics of trying to shoot a gathering during COVID time, but people were vaccinated and it was outside.
And as it happened, we were shooting on a Tuesday night, and every Tuesday there’s live music at Independence Hall! We got lucky because we thought we were going to manufacture festivities, but you never really have to do that at Kissing Tree.