Production designer Andrea Leigh talks about that Teleflora Mother’s Day Commercial you still are crying over

Production designer Andrea Leigh

With Mother’s Day upon us, everyone is trying to think of how to thank their mothers for everything they have done. Two years ago, as you probably remember, the best way to do that seemed to be simply by sending her a link to a YouTube video, with an advertisement for the flower delivery company Teleflora. Every year, the flower company makes an advertisement specifically for the special day, but that year, featuring Navy officer Ryan surprising his mother, made audiences around the world tear up and just want to give their own mom a big hug.

What you may not know, however, about this video, is the behind the scenes action it took to get it to be the emotional roller coaster we all know too well. Specifically, production designer Andrea Leigh’s work on the project, to have the perfect backdrop to help tell the story. Leigh is from Toronto, and has worked on several large projects including the web series Hello Linda and the film Friends Like Us. She has been a part of music videos like Thugli’s dance tune Sic Em, and several other important commercials, like Prickly for Scotts Weed B Gone and E.L.F.’s Play Beautifully campaign. However, working on that iconic Teleflora commercial has been the highlight of her career.

“It was an amazing concept: reuniting mothers and sons who had been separated by distance for Mother’s Day. It was great working with the lovely staff and floral designers from Teleflora, and getting to meet wonderful people with amazing stories was such a lovely experience. The stories of the sons were captivating. Their love for their mothers, and the stories they told about growing up with such strong women in their lives was inspiring,” said Leigh.

The commercial went on to get over 11 million views in its first twenty-four hours of being live. As if the online success and high viewership of the commercial was not enough to illustrate the commercial as an enormous success, the commercial was also named the 6th Most Watched Ad on YouTube in April by the definitive industry publication AdWeek. The advertisement was featured in articles from other widely circulated publications such as Daily Mail Christian Post, Life Daily, and numerous others. It even had its own Buzzfeed article appropriately titled “People are totally losing over this Teleflora Mother’s Day Commercial.”

Image from the 2015 Teleflora Mother’s Day commercial

“It was great to see how much attention it was getting just days after airing. It was challenging because a lot of things were out of our control, and maintaining the element of surprise with our cast of real people was tough, especially when it was this exciting. Getting to know our cast was such a great experience. People from all over, separated from their mothers for all different reasons, learning their stories, it was lovely, especially after the reveal,” said Leigh.

The commercial is now near 12 million views on YouTube. In her lead role as the art director, Leigh was largely responsible with coordinating the overall aesthetic of the commercial. She worked closely with the Teleflora to achieve a stunning arrangement of flowers to be delivered to the mother, while also deciding the placement of the array of flowers already sitting inside the delivery truck. She was also responsible for constructing the aesthetic behind the insert shots, such as one moment in which various Navy badges and medals are displayed to reflect the son’s achievements during his service. The director, Andres Condes, says that Leigh’s contributions helped make the commercial the success that it was.

“While any art director must remain flexible and versatile in constructing a highly visual production, Andrea was nothing if not irreplaceable for our production. Andrea’s depiction of the floral arrangements as breathtaking, full and high end collections as well as her depiction of the family as the ‘average American’ and depicting the son as both a hero and a loving son speaks to her indescribable versatility as an art director. I cannot imagine completing this production with any other art director than Andrea,” said Conde.

“The Mother’s Day commercial for Teleflora was a viral success, and achieved nearly twelve million views on YouTube alone, a tremendous achievement that speaks droves about not only the widespread popularity and success of the commercial, but also the rigorous work that professionals like Andrea put into this production. There can be no doubt, based on these advanced achievements among fans and critics, that our commercial is one of the most successful of its kind. I duly credit much of the commercial’s success to Andrea, as she was instrumental in creating the powerful visuals. We simply could not have earned the same astounding level of success without her,” Conde added.

For Leigh, it was amazing to have an advertisement touch the lives of so many people. Instead of just changing the channel or skipping the ad, this spot captured the audience with an incredible, heartfelt story. It was an honor, she says, to be part of something like that.

“Being part of something that was essentially life changing was very special. Getting to know our cast, learning about their lives, and the struggle of maintaining a close relationship with family while being so far away from each other. It really made me appreciate how close by my own family has always been,” Leigh concluded.

Watch the moving commercial here.