The Purpose Institute, GSD&M and CSpence Group joined forces to produce the PSAs to help raise funds for Texas and Florida
Along with the rest of America, as the five former living presidents individually watched Hurricane Harvey pound the Texas Gulf Coast and the approaching Hurricane Irma, they decided that they must answer the call and collectively do something to help—now. That collective determination inspired an almost-impossible effort to write and produce two PSAs ready to air within four days during the NFL’s season opening game on Thursday night, September 7th.
“When five former presidents need help for such a noble cause the only answer is yes,” said Roy Spence, co-founder of GSD&M and The Purpose Institute. “In times of disaster and devastation, it is our duty and our purpose as marketers to answer the call, to use our skills to unify the nation and create awareness about how the country can help,”
Working closely with Bush 41 spokesman Jim McGrath in Houston, who was coordinating with the offices of the former presidents, Spence contacted his daughter Courtney Spence in San Francisco to prepare for five video shoots, in five different locations across the country, within 72 hours.
“We became one team in one day,” Spence added.
The campaign One America Appeal was first conceptualized and scripted by McGrath in close collaboration with Roy Spence and Judy Trabulsi of the Purpose Institute in Austin. After receiving approval from the offices of the former presidents, Courtney Spence and the CSpence Group led an all-volunteer creative effort to ensure that the PSAs with five former Presidents could immediately help inspire and activate a nation ready to help.
“The call to collaborate with the five former American presidents who were concerned came on Saturday night of Labour Day weekend,” said Courtney Spence, co-founder and CEO of CSpence Group. “And there was no question we would do whatever it took to answer the call. As a proud native Texan, I was reeling from this disaster and I knew it was our honor and duty to make some kind of difference. So, we reached out to our creative community to help bring to life the message of all the five presidents. America is at her best when against all odds; we come together and lift each other up. Everyone we reached out to said yes! And we all joined hands and hearts, and made it happen.”
Production partner Humble mobilized teams across the country in Maine, Georgia, California and Washington, D.C., to capture the former Presidents in their homes, libraries and offices. Led by director Gerard de Thame, executive producer Mark Kovacs and producer Fabyan Daw, production was executed in just 48 hours. Cut+Run’s Frank Effron edited the PSA in one day.
“After seeing the devastation, we knew we wanted to contribute our time, people-power and resources toward relief efforts,” said Humble president and founder, Eric Berkowitz. “Putting together five filming shoots in 48 hours was no easy task, but it was an effort we’re honoured to be part of.”
Mike Blair/Whole Life Films and Rocky Powell/Rock House Films filmed President George W. Bush in Dallas, Texas. “Rocky and I have been creative partners with Roy Spence and Judy Trabulsi for many decades. When they call to help others with PSA productions, it is our passion and honour to answer the call.”
Music Supervisor: Wool and Tusk, Aaron Mercer
Chief Operating Officer:
Gerard de Thame, Rocky Powell (Rock House Films)
Fabyan Daw, Devon Wright, Michael Tillman
Sharon Reinschmiedt (Rock House Films)
Sam Stephens, Jonathan Yi, Charlie Beyer
Mike Blair (Whole Life Films)
Post Production / VFX
Performer: Paul Wright at
Performer: Paul Wright at