Los Angeles-based photographer Emily Malan recently shot a streetwear-inspired campaign for Reese’s Puffs cereal as part of a special promotion for the brand that featured a small remote-controlled yacht released in collaboration with rapper Lil Yachty. What she didn’t expect was for the project to go viral on social media and get picked up by media outlets like Hypebeast, AdAge, and Pop Sugar.
The lil’ yacht made by Deeplocal featured a small rotating cereal bowl in the front of the vessel that was dubbed a “milkcuzzi” so customers could enjoy Reese’s Puffs in a fun way while blasting Lil Yachty’s tunes from the built-in waterproof Bluetooth speakers. It was also remote-controlled, allowing Emily to cruise the boat around in a pool.
I loved using the lil’ yacht in the pool — it was especially fun using the remote control to make it move around.
This was Emily’s first project working with an ad agency, and she was commissioned by Anomaly, an LA-based experiential agency known for its unconventional approach to advertising. The imagery would promote the release on a website landing page and online through social media. Emily was approached by a friend she met while studying at the Art Center College of Design who now worked there as a creative director.
It was my first time working with Anomaly. My friend from college, Mindy Benner, works there as a creative director and recommended me. I have experience shooting streetwear, and the launch was similar to a sneaker drop. My streetwear work sold the other art directors and producers.
The shoot took place at the creative director’s condo in Echo Park, utilizing their pool as a backdrop and the kitchen space to photograph tabletop still life photography. They also shot some images in Venice Beach at the end of the day to mix things up.
We moved fairly quickly when we were shooting in the pool. The tabletop stuff took a while because of setting up backdrops, getting the light right, and trying to get all the assets on their shot list.
Emily also doubled as the stylist for the project and styled the small yacht with cereal, milk, and a boat remote stamped with the words “eat ’em up.” Inspired by an idea from a friend, she put the little yacht in a big bowl to create a breakfast scene for one of the images.
The lil’ yacht is about 1.5 ft long, and we needed something big enough to fit, so we found a large planter to double as a “cereal bowl.” We ended up putting 10 gallons worth of milk in it!
Since we didn’t have a prop stylist, it was a bit difficult to style the lil’ yacht along with milk and cereal. I definitely don’t take prop stylists for granted. Styling on your own is so hard!
After the shoot, the art directors at Anomaly picked selects, and Emily lightly retouched the images for color. The team at Anomaly then edited and designed the final promotional materials before the launch, lining everything up for the very limited release of yachts. Like a much-anticipated sneaker release, the scarcity drove up a buzz before launch.
Originally the team didn’t think they’d have the time to capture photography for this project, but Mindy, the creative director, had pushed for it. Her persistence paid off when the lil’ yacht sold out within seconds.
The fun nature of the promotion allowed Emily to create some eye-catching images and short videos utilizing bold pops of color and textures. The vibrant photos take a cue from fashion photography and urban street style while maintaining a fun, light-hearted tone that perfectly befits the collaboration between the rapper and cereal brand.