As the nation’s leading provider of dental insurance, Delta Dental serves more than 80 million Americans through its network of providers in all 50 states. 

However, the company’s extensive offerings are news to the heavy metal group Mölar, the stars of the company’s Long Live Smile Power campaign. 

The premise of the nearly two-minute mockumentary (and its 30-second version too), presented in a mockumentary style reminiscent of This is Spinal Tap, is that the members of Mölar can’t stop smiling now that they have dental coverage through Delta Dental. 

That presents a challenge for a photographer trying to capture the group’s members looking appropriately intimidating and menacing. While the tale of Mölar may appeal to a certain age demographic old enough to recall the heyday of heavy metal, Delta Dental hopes the campaign will resonate with a broad cross-section of consumers.

Delta Dental
Source: Delta Dental

“It’s designed to speak to people in all stages of life who are in search of dental insurance,” says André Richards, VP of brand strategy and management at Delta Dental. “Wherever life takes you, from the boardroom to the stage, at Delta Dental, we’re committed to helping everyone achieve a healthy smile.”

The choice of a heavy metal band as the fictional face of the Long Live Smile Power campaign also reflects other societal changes, accelerated by the pandemic, such as the increasing number of Americans who are contract workers. 

“We talk a lot about the gig economy these days,” Richards continues. “This campaign is one of many stories that we are telling about the gig economy using the original version: bands. Plus there’s always a fascination with the behind-the-scenes stories of bands. There’s a universal curiosity around music that I think can touch everybody regardless of the genre.”

The choice of humor as a central theme of the Delta Dental campaign serves a purpose beyond simply grabbing the attention of viewers and provoking a chuckle, explains Tim Mattimore, executive creative director at Digitas Chicago. 

“Humor is an effective tool when we’re talking about things that matter because they diffuse some of the anxiety that one might have, say, about finding and picking the right coverage,” he says. “It’s a way to kind of bring the anxiety levels down and talk to people in a more conversational way.” 

Mattimore cites sitcoms like Parks & Recreation and The Office as evidence that this style of humor has become central to pop culture. He says he also believes that the cinematography of the spot increases its effectiveness. 

“This is a little bit more nuts and bolts, but when you shoot in this format, which is all handheld, the viewer feels like they’re in that room with the cameraman. It feels more approachable, like you’re part of the action,” he says. “It gives you an intimacy that I think is a powerful tool.” 

He notes that this approach also gave the Delta Dental team the ability to create a considerable amount of content over a single day with photographers interacting with the band’s members between takes.

The broad cross-channel campaign includes TV/OLV, social media, display, radio, and print components which Richards hopes will deliver one overriding message, embedded in the humor. “Wherever life takes you, you can be covered by the nation’s largest dental network,” he says.