Durable Goods has signed director Chris Applebaum for commercials and branded content in the US. Applebaum’s creative imprint has shaped pop culture across three decades.
The multiple MTV Award-winning, six-time Grammy Award nominee has directed 31 MTV #1 music videos for such artists as Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Selena Gomez, and Demi Lovato. His “Umbrella” video for Rihanna was awarded the top honor of Video of the Year at the MTV VMA Awards, and his Semisonic “Closing Time” was the first music video ever inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Specializing in food, beauty, and celebrity work, Applebaum has directed some of the most memorable and most-watched TV ads in history, including multiple Super Bowl spots. John Frieda, Head & Shoulders, Clairol, Wella, Carl’s Jr., Bud Light, Candie’s, Smirnoff, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell are just a handful of the brands Applebaum has worked with over the course of his decorated career.
The signing reunites Applebaum with Durable Goods Executive Producers Hani Selim and Mike Brady, whom he previously worked with at Believe Media.
“Chris is one of the most talented and buttoned-up directors I’ve worked with,” remarks Brady. “Not only is he adept at landing great performances with celebrities and new talent alike, but also his lighting and styling are fantastic. Just look at his stunning beauty work and how natural and flattering he lights skin and hair. Above all, he brings a strong vision to each project, while keeping an open collaborative mindset with agencies and clients, who will also appreciate his unique insights on content creation, distribution, and the future of our business.”
“It was important for me to sign with a company that reflected my values personally and as a director, and Durable Goods was the clear choice,” adds Applebaum. “Hani and Mike are masters of their trade and well-respected in the production community. It was just as paramount to find a production partner that was enthusiastic and ambitious about what we can accomplish together in the future, rather than selling me on the laurels of my past, where I’ve been blessed to work with many iconic artists and brands through the years.”
Prior to joining the Durable Goods roster, Applebaum founded his own boutique digital agency, Bad Apple Digital (B.A.D.), which he grew from a two-person shop to a world-class multidisciplinary operation with a team of 10. As a creative director and a live-action director at B.A.D., he helmed online, print, and broadcast campaigns for startups and legacy brands, including ESPN, Müller, Tecate, Lamborghini, Unilever, Croc, and Interscope Records.
Carving out a new specialty in the social and digital marketing arena, B.A.D. also worked with hundreds of influencers and content creators – Alexis Ren, Jay Alvarez, Ayla Woodruff, Bella Thorne, and Rachel Cook – producing dozens of viral campaigns along the way. Campaign highlights from B.A.D. include the Ren Activewear line, which twice sold out on first runs; launch and customer acquisition campaigns for Drakes Organic Gluten-Free Rum and Vodka, resulting in distribution in 46 states; and an awareness campaign for cannabis brand MedMen starring Ireland Baldwin, which led to more than one billion media impressions.
Although Applebaum has been directing professionally since he was 19 years old, he credits B.A.D. for helping expand his repertoire as a visual storyteller for brands. As a result, he brings a deep understanding of what is required of modern campaigns and how to super-serve a client’s content needs – whether he is embracing data to inform his directorial choices, integrating the capture of social and digital assets for visual continuity across a campaign, or DP’ing the projects he directs.
“Immersing myself in the digital space has made me a better director in every sense of the word,” remarks Applebaum. “The experience pushed me to do more with less compared to the traditional commercial work, and also gave me a newfound appreciation for data and market research, which can be powerful tools to convert casual observers into brand loyalists. I’m excited to bring these insights to my work as a director with Durable Goods’ agency partners.”
Skills and experience aside, Applebaum distills success down to the human aspect of his profession, where ground zero of every job is fostering an environment where all in the room are welcome to voice their ideas and ask questions.
“Ultimately, a director’s job is to visually communicate with audiences,” concludes Applebaum, “and the most successful ones apply that same principle collaborating on set. By focusing on the human aspect of what we do, that energy will naturally flow into the creative. You can see it on the screen and you can feel it. After all, the best spots are the ones you can’t precisely describe in words; they’re visceral. That’s when people take notice.”