Shondra Burke, the video editor, and Lisa Borden, the voiceover artist, worked with Berkeley and several other team members on this once-in-a-lifetime project featuring Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
While Berkeley said his copy for various advertising campaigns has been rewritten by clients “dozens of times,” the copy for the museum commercial passed muster will all three former presidents, with only one minor change.
Berkeley said he jumped at the opportunity to make the commercial after a larger company that had initially been hired to create the ad campaign didn’t come through. “We came up with an idea and pitched it to museum board member Charlotte Jones – daughter of Jerry Jones, who owns the Dallas Cowboys – requesting that she ask the three former presidents, who are all honorary board members, to participate in the campaign,” Berkeley told The Hull Times. “She agreed; our team sprang into action; and the commercial aired on Veterans Day weekend 2021 after a long delay due to COVID-19.”
While none of the creative team actually met any of the three presidents because the commercial was done remotely, this project is “right up there” among the highlights of Berkeley’s career so far, although Brady remains a favorite.
Berkeley also said it was a “thrill to work with a world-class editor like Shondra Burke, who lives right down the street in Hull,” on the commercial, which he wrote and directed.
Burke enjoyed being part of the team, especially the experience of “organizing the best deliveries of the former presidents into an order that felt natural and selecting the footage that became part of the archival material that enhances the storytelling experience,” she told the Times. “As the editor, you have to make sense of all the material you have to tell the story in a fashion with which the audience will engage.”
It was an honor to edit the footage of the three former presidents while working from her home office, according to Burke. “This speaks tremendously of Joe and his ability to get high-level people on board with the commercials he makes. He’s very thoughtful of the people he works with, and he respects their [individual] abilities.”
Borden, who has done voiceovers over the years for Boston Children’s Hospital, Vanderbilt University Health Center, Liberty Mutual, and others said it was an honor to work on this project.
“It’s always fun to work with Joe, because he consistently comes up with huge ideas,” she said. “When he first showed me the idea for an ad with three former presidents, I thought, ‘amazing idea, will never happen.’ But it did. … I certainly never thought I would get to share 60 seconds with three former presidents!”
Borden, an advertising professor at Boston University, invited Berkeley to guest-lecture in her class last semester.
“When he showed my students this commercial, it completely changed their view of what was possible for them to do in advertising,” she said.
Depending on the project, Berkeley works as a writer, creative director, photographer, producer, director, and/or editor. Since he started Joe Berkeley LLC in 2014, he has collaborated with dozens of agencies, clients, publishers, and production companies to create “great advertising, content, and editorial work” in addition to having articles on a variety of topics published in The Boston Globe, Sailing World, Newport This Week, Hemmings Classic Car Magazine, and in online publications.
Berkeley is also administrator of the popular “Humans of Nantasket Beach” Facebook page, which has about 6,750 subscribers.
He explained the history behind why he started it in 2015. “I have spent my entire life trying to create brand images for products that may or may not better humanity and felt that Hull’s image could use improvement.
“The Hull I saw through my own eyes was far superior to the Hull that I saw portrayed in mainstream media outside of our borders,” Berkeley said. “Hull always got a bad rap, and I wanted to put my [camera] lens on people and places in town that I thought were beautiful but were for the most part going unnoticed.”
Berkeley quoted a saying to the effect that one picture leads to the next, “but for that to work, you have to take a picture. Memory is a very powerful force, but if your only one of Hull is from visiting Paragon Park during the summer of 1950 and eating saltwater taffy, then maybe it’s time to somehow move forward beyond that recollection,” he said. “Paragon Park is not coming back, and while memories and traditions are great, we need to focus on the opportunities for the future in Hull. I think we’re heading in the right direction.” Some of Berkeley’s most loyal “Humans” subscribers are former residents who moved away “and miss and love Hull very much.”
Through his photography for “Humans,” Berkeley has met many interesting residents, lobster boat captains, and others from diverse backgrounds. He developed an interest in photography as an adult. “I took a course in high school in New York City, but my camera got stolen,” he recalled.
When he started his own company, the need for photography skills became apparent. “My clients expected me to do more with less, so I had to do more than just write. While I learned photography out of necessity, it’s been a good journey,” he said. “I had a lot of fun recently photographing Mac Jones, a quarterback for the New England Patriots.”
Joe Berkeley LLC offers a range of services, from headshots of individuals to television campaigns for the Olympics.
Looking back, Berkeley moved to Hull from New York City in 1997. “I had always wanted to live here, and when I got a job offer in Boston that was my chance to move to Hull, and I took it. It’s an interesting place with a lot of creative people.”
What he enjoys most about living in town is the access to the ocean. “Hull is an incredible place to live and play, and the light is so sublime,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll be eating breakfast at 4 a.m. and look up during the pre-dawn hour, and the view is so beautiful that I grab my camera and go running out of the house. The amazing light for me in Hull is before dawn.”
Berkeley shares his late mother’s philosophy in life – to choose happiness. “If you just sit like a bump on a log, nothing will happen, but if you give [life] a shot, something good could happen,” he said.