DREAMS RECLAIMED: JEFF SCARDINO
Every creative has that one dream project that may take years to come to life. And what a feeling when that moment finally arrives. For WNW Member #4183 Jeff Scardino, that moment is now. "Dreams Reclaimed", a new ad for Aetna, stems from an idea that has been Jeff's baby for years. It began to take shape when Jeff researched his dad's newly diagnosed sleep apnea. He learned that with certain sleeping conditions, "You’re never able to hit REM because you are constantly waking up even though you don’t realize it. This stuck with me. What would it be like not to dream? Does it even matter?" By recreating the first vivid dreams that three individuals have had in years, after finally receiving treatment, Jeff documents their dreams reclaimed, as well as his own.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and your background as a copywriter.
I’ve worked in NYC for my whole career at such places as R/GA, DDB, and Ogilvy. Currently I’m freelancing. I’ve had the pleasure to work on some interesting brands like Tropicana, NY Lottery, Amnesty International, and IKEA. I also teach at Miami Ad School, and I’m an FWA Mobile judge.
This new Aetna ad is trippy. What was your role, and how did it come together?
So this idea was my baby. I had been trying to get it made for years. I first came up with it when my dad was diagnosed with sleep apnea. At the time, I didn’t know much about the disorder. I just knew his snoring echoed throughout the whole house. For treatment, he received a CPAP machine that he wore only one time before refusing to use it ever again. So I decided to do research in hopes of convincing him that he needed it. In my search, I found a study that showed sleep apnea can cause you to have low dream recall and even cause you not to remember your dreams at all. This is due to the fact that you’re never able to hit REM because you are constantly waking up even though you don’t realize it. This stuck with me. What would it be like not to dream? Does it even matter?
When I dug deeper, I found that dreams have a healing power. Our subconscious uses dreams to solve problems and allows you to visualize memories that are buried.
Dreams are something we take for granted. My dad didn’t think twice about the fact that he couldn’t remember his dreams for years. There are a lot of health risks associated with not getting healthy sleep, but this was more of an emotional angle. One that could truly make people think differently.
So I thought what if I took people who suffered from a sleeping disorder and had them record their first dream after treatment. This being the first vivid dream they’ve had in years. And then took those dreams and recreated them in a film. It would be a powerful piece that would start conversation and make people think, “When was the last time I dreamt?”
I created and oversaw every aspect of this project working hand in hand with my CCO.
How do you go about writing someone else's dreams?
We started with hundreds of people who suffered from a sleeping disorder that caused them not to remember their dreams. The pool was whittled down based on a series of interviews. The final ones were selected based on their first dream. We wanted to tell three distinct stories that evoked three different emotions.
Each person was only able to record a nugget of their respective dream. So we had to learn as much as we could about them and their lives in order to piece together why they dreamt what they dreamt. This was fun. We had complete freedom in recreating these dream worlds. But we wanted to ground each decision in reason.
Do you dream a lot? What's your weirdest dream?
I do dream a lot. And ever since I started this project I have been writing down my dreams. I’d say the weirdest one I’ve had lately involved me trying to keep my family alive in a zombie apocalypse. And the zombies were all people I’ve met throughout my life. Probably a deeper meaning for me trying to move forward. Or I just watch The Walking Dead too much.
Which project throughout all of your career highlights are you proudest of?
I think every project you’re able to produce brings pride of some kind. Probably because it’s so hard to make good work. There are so many hurdles that get in the way. But I would have to say finally making this film is one of my prouder moments. Every creative has that one idea they carry with them from agency to agency, brand to brand, trying to get it made. And this was mine. Also being able to make something so conceptual for a brand like Aetna is a huge win.
What advice would you pass on to your high school self?
Don’t eat so much Taco Bell. It will permanently damage your digestive system.