If You Want Me To Stay – Ari Lennox & Anthony Ramos

Agency: Anomaly
Production Company: Mssg Peces
Producer: Stephanie Bruni
Director: Karena Evans
Director of Photography: Drew Daniels
Editor: Ryan McCally

An idea that was conceived during the global pandemic, this Crown Royal campaign exists to champion and protect the live music scene. With so many bars and venues suffering during lockdowns, Karena wanted to communicate what makes these places special, and what’s at stake if we lose them. This campaign recognises that these are hubs for creativity, safety, freedom, and connection, moving us to preserve the culture and community of these venues.

To convey this appreciation for what these spaces stand for, Karena pursued a creative concept around a theme of returning home, and one that celebrates musical heritage. The production team then travelled to different cities (Baltimore, Washington DC, Nashville, and Detroit), speaking to the local artists and visiting different venues. By talking to the owners and the people behind each of these live music spaces, Karena could really feel what made each venue unique. With this understanding, the resulting narrative brings to the screen what these places genuinely mean to people.

Working with an immensely talented producer and director of photography, their passion preserved the essence of her vision. The visual style is very cinematic, but not overly complex. The intention here is simply to showcase the humanity and the soul of the spaces featured, treating them as though they are characters themselves.

With the release, which combines a song, a music video, and a commercial, the intention was to increase awareness of what we might stand to lose if these venues disappear. With that awareness driving streams of the song (an Ani Lennox and Anthony Ramos collaboration), every stream then generated revenue which went directly to the venues and bars at risk of closure.

The result of this work is more than a commercial. It’s a creative endeavour with an authentic message, and a project with heart. It was created not only to help these people in need, but to also celebrate what they give us. It confronts us with a clear picture of why these venues are so special, and with the reality that, if we lose them, we might lose a piece of ourselves.