Responses by Cedric Giese, creative director, Iyashi
Background: San Francisco–based Ramen Hero wanted to reinforce its mission of delivering real, authentic ramen meal kits to every noodle-loving American. Though the primary targets are people who already have an affinity for premium ramen, we also wanted something that felt more accessible for our secondary target of ramen newbies. Note: this is not the ramen you woofed down in college—this is high quality ramen made to the standards of master ramen chefs. One purpose was to convey the idea of honkaku. Though it sounds like something a confused rooster might say, the word honkaku means real and authentic in Japanese, and is what differentiates Ramen Hero from would-be competitors.
Reasoning: We wanted a concept that felt familiar yet surprising to reinforce the unique American and ramen connection of the brand. We all recognize cowboys as a thoroughly American icon. The twist here is that the cowboy is Japanese and that he ends each dusty day on the range with a steamy bowl of Ramen Hero goodness. We came up with the “Made in America. The Japanese Way.” line a day before the shoot and liked the idea of two seemingly incongruent notions and cultures appearing side-by-side.
Challenges: Time and money were the biggest hurdles we encountered. Ramen Hero is a relatively new brand and didn’t have a huge budget available, so we had to shoot all seven videos, including the anthem spot, in one day. Fortunately, production company Avocados and Coconuts worked within our resources and went above and beyond to deliver the goods. Given the constraints, we’re happy with how everything turned out.
Visual influences: We wanted to create the world’s first “noodle westerns,” so we leaned on the tropes and visual palette of the cowboy genre. As expected, names like Quentin Tarantino and Sergio Leone were thrown around during preproduction. Admittedly, we also watched a lot of late ’70s and ’80s beer commercials to capture that retro yet anthemic feel.
Specific demands: Shooting in one day definitely had its challenges—so is waking up for a 4:45 a.m. call time. Due to the schedule, we had to shoot the dusk scenes for the shorter videos in the morning before the sun came up. Fortunately, the weather was slightly overcast, so we could fake everything practically. In total, we had to shoot one sixty-second video and six twenty-second videos and be out by 5 p.m. Needless to say, we were running and gunning the whole time, which is stressful but also forces you not to overthink too much.
Alternative approach: We shot in Petaluma, CA, about an hour outside of San Francisco. Although the location was perfect, the weather wasn’t. Having good weather certainly would’ve helped, but given the budget and schedule, we’re happy with the result. The overcast sky may have actually helped us with continuity concerns and adjusting for sun angle and shadows during the course of the day. The ramen gods were obviously looking out for us.