I Heart Mac & Cheese, the new fast-casual restaurant concept that offers traditional mac and cheese and sandwiches with health-conscious options, has partnered with Palm Springs High School to create a project that provides an opportunity for the school’s students to create an actual television commercial for the restaurant. More than 190 students are involved in the promotional piece and a documentary about the process which is being filmed concurrently. The school sponsored a script writing contest and twelve students working on three scripts were selected to have their scripts turned into a broadcast-quality commercial. The public will be able to vote on which commercial they like best, which will then be aired locally later this year.
“Giving back in various ways to our community is critically important to the success of our organization,” said Blu Bryan, CEO and Founder of BMC Foods, owner of the new restaurant. “In addition to philanthropic donations, our goal is to provide opportunities for local organizations to work with the restaurant to further enrich the community. This project with the high school is an example of how we will continue to develop new ways to involve different demographics in our area.”
The commercial project is spearheaded by Donnie Gerrell, the FILM (Futures in Leading Media) Pathway Teacher and Technology Department Lead at Palm Springs High School. The project started with a pre-production competition in which 190 PSHS students in grades nine through twelve competed in a script writing competition. Prior to writing scripts, students got to sample the Mac & Cheese product line and were able to research and review the restaurant’s menu as if they were working with a client. Three scripts were chosen to be filmed at a midcentury modern Palm Springs residence. The different scripts embrace the LGBTQ+ community and celebrate the upcoming holidays while all selling the Mac & Cheese menu. The crew and cast for the commercials are made up of students, parents, family members of students, and local actors from several organizations.
After filming is completed, the footage will be brought back and the FILM students will again compete to create the best commercial using the footage. They will be turned into final videos that will be featured on on the film program’s website pshsfilm.com where there will be an opportunity for the community to vote for their favorite spot. The commercial that receives the most votes will be run on local broadcast media outlets later this year.
In addition to the commercial project, some of the FILM students are also filming and producing a documentary about the commercial creation project.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with such an innovative entrepreneur like Blu Bryan,” said Gerrell. “When he approached us with this idea, we jumped at the chance to give our students real-world experience. It has been an incredible opportunity for everyone involved. To acknowledge this collaboration, we will have a campus celebration day in our quad that will feature live music and a place for school clubs to have informational booths. I Heart Mac & Cheese has generously offered to provide a food truck to feed the event attendees at that event. We could not be more thrilled about how this venture has enabled such student involvement.”
In addition to this project, the Palm Springs I Heart Mac & Cheese franchise is also providing two of its high school workers with a scholarship for their future college careers.