How It’s Made: Regional Emmy-Winning PSA

In November 2020, Strategic America became an agency with four Regional Emmy®-winning associates. Kasey Baker-VerMulm, Randy Belcher, Bruce Ganzer and Heath Smith took home the award for Community/Public Service (PSAs) for their work on the ‘See Yourself Hungry’ PSA for Food Bank of Iowa.

The Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences represents video and television professionals from more than 20 designated marketing areas in five states. With impressive competition, it took outstanding creative, collaborative partnerships and attention to detail to create a Regional Emmy-worthy video.

Here’s how the Strategic America team did it.

Find the Right Project

Long before the 2020 Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Awards were on our minds, the Strategic America team was presented with the opportunity to create a video for Food Bank of Iowa.

Food Bank of Iowa sources free and reduced-cost food for Iowans in need. They work with more than 630 partners across 55 counties to get nutritious food into the hands of seniors, children, families, veterans and other Iowans experiencing food insecurity—or those without reliable access to enough nutritious food.

We knew the project would focus on raising awareness around food insecurity. It can be difficult to understand—especially for those lucky enough to have not experienced it—and easy to ignore. So, we got to work.

Turn to Creative for Outstanding Concepts

Our creative team had a big task. Raise awareness for food insecurity while breaking down the stigma facing Iowans who utilize food assistance. 

The SA team, led by Heath and Kasey, went above and beyond. Five concepts were created for the client, all focusing on empathy and the humanity of hunger.

After meeting with the client for feedback, the final concept, See Yourself Hungry, came into focus.

In it, three characters go about their day, until they see their own doppelgänger dealing with food insecurity. A woman volunteering at a meal site suddenly sees herself in line. A man picking up pizza recognizes himself going through the dumpster, looking for a meal. And a woman driving in a minivan with her children notices herself on the side of the road, begging for food for her family.

The spot highlights how anyone could experience hunger. From the impact of unexpected expenses to a global pandemic, many people face food insecurity through no fault of their own. Food Bank of Iowa answers the call for help for those in need – making sure food is available in 55 Iowa counties.

Connect with the Right Partner

For this project, Strategic America called on a production partner to help get the right look and feel for the final PSA. We were honored to work with Luminary Creative, a production company located in Des Moines and Nashville, to raise awareness for food insecurity.

Luminary Creative and Strategic America have created a number of award-winning projects together. The process is always rewarding—giving us the best possible outputs for our clients.

Sweat the Small Stuff

We wanted to create a video that treated food insecurity as a real, recognizable issue. That’s why our team paid attention to every detail.

While filming the meal site scene, our associate production manager made sure the pots on the stove—the background of the scene—were actually cooking something to produce steam.

Kasey worked on more than just concepts—she created a logo for the fictional meal site that helped set a recognizable scene.

Our shoot was so convincing, someone stopped to give money to one of our actors. That’s a testament to detailed work—and the kindness of everyday Iowans.

Rely on Team Members

We wouldn’t have four Regional Emmy Award winners in house if we didn’t have a strong team. For this shoot, SA stepped up.

A number of Strategic Americans volunteered to be extras—bringing their own clothes for wardrobe.  And Joe Emmons, part of SA’s production team, offered up his restaurant as a filming location.

Don’t Be Afraid to Show Off

At SA, we consider ourselves humble. We put in the work and don’t draw too much attention to ourselves. But we also know good work deserves recognition. We put up this video for a number of awards—and came home with trophies for nearly every one entered.

After all, you can’t win a Regional Emmy if you don’t put your work up for consideration.

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