Hi, my name is Diana Hufstedler. You may know me as the team TTI 3-Gunner who likes fashion or the potty-mouth blogger who tells it as it is. But in my 8 to 5 job I’m a marketer, and a good one (tell my boss). Today I will reveal to you the secret recipe to a killer marketing campaign & will bring you behind the scenes of the 5.11 Media production that can easily be described as the photoshoot of the century!
Team TTI (sometimes affectionately referred to as “Ballistic Angels” or simply “Taran’s Angels”). Members featured: Michelle Jean, Corinne Mosher, Allie Barrett, Diana Hufstedler (yeah, I’m always in black), Sammi King, Jessica Hook, Janna Reeves & our fierce leader Taran Butler. All images: courtesy of 5.11 Media
1. Start with 7 Kick-ass Female 3-Gun Competitors
Sure, you can hire models. But where is the fun in that? First of all, viewers are not stupid – they can spot a phony from a mile away. Second, it will build your credibility & prove your products really are designed for running & gunning, because that’s what we really do. Last, but not least, your pretty pictures will actually say something. Female shooters have long battled stereotypes: either we were perceived as manly tomboys or gun bunnies posing with firearms in their bikini (nothing against that, I love a hot gal with a smoking gun as much as the next guy). However, the fact is, many of us are serious shooters & competitors who leave most men in the dust. Funny thing is, until recently, the firearms industry not only fueled the misunderstandings, they ignored one of the fastest growing segments – women! Not anymore.
The girls & I sharing an umbrella right before it was my turn with the cameraman…
Janna Reeves, Jessica Hook, Michelle Jean, Diana Hufstedler
2. Hire a Killer Production Crew
Enter 5.11 Tactical & the 5.11 Media crew (with team members who produced some of the best gun shows on the Discovery Channel) for a production that will blow your mind! There is a reason the photos you took with your cell in the garage, *cough* office, looked like crap. Simple, really, if you want high quality anything – hire professionals! So, to the point: a couple of weeks ago Taran Butler, a multiple world champion & TV personality, who also owns Taran Tactical Innovations (a top-notch provider of gunsmithing services & shooting accessories and the first & ONLY company with a largely female-dominated shooting team, myself included) teamed up with the leader in tactical apparel & gear – 5.11 Tactical, for a photo/video shoot in the Hollywood Hills just outside LA that can make even the most battle-hardened dude blush & sweat with excitement. And (still pinching myself), I got to be a part of it!
The dream team! Top row: Michelle , Corinne, Allie, Diana, Sammi, Jessica & Janna.
Bottom row: Videographer (so sorry, I forgot your name), Kevin, Hawk Vacarro, Jesse Clements, Taran Butler (TTI owner), Eric Katzenberg, Kenji Sweeney, Mariva England, Matt Frederick, Lyndsey Grove, Nabil Khattar
3. Add Drama
No, not THAT kind of drama (if you want that – go back to the models). Striking sunsets, high contrast, rumbling skies, extreme angles, hero shots, badass guns, a shootout (or shot-out) car, the rugged desert & the juxtaposition of a traditionally very manly sport and the ultra-femininity of the women 3-Gunners. If you are not familiar with the athletic discipline of 3 Gun – let me enlighten you: it is a grueling, adrenaline-filled sport, which requires skill, speed, power & accuracy with all 3 firearms – pistol, rifle & shotgun. It takes the concept of “run & gun” to a whole new level and females have been fighting with blood, sweat & tears for their place. “Femme Fatale”, indeed (yep, that really is the working title of the campaign for 5.11’s new women’s line)!
The ladies of team TTI. Sunset, end of day one. Can you guess who is who?
4. Slow Motion For Me
No self-respecting promo video is complete without slow motion. You wanna make even the most trivial of things (like arriving at the range or double-tapping 3 targets in a row) look super cool – slow-motion it. Bam, you just went from “I blinked & missed it” to “Reservoir Dogs & “The Matrix”! Plus, brass flying at the camera just brings the viewer in on the action like nothing else. Want to kick it up a notch? Add a smoke machine and you’ve officially entered into super badassery (admit you like my made-up-words).
I cannot even begin to explain how cool this slow-motion video of us arriving at the range at sunrise is! (our awesome cameraman Hawk let us preview footage briefly)
5. Make It Rain Brass
Duh, I should have started with this one! And rain brass it did; as a matter of fact I feel sorry for whoever had to pick it up after we were done. Let me tell ya, none of us had a clue we were about to change history for women shooters. We were just a bunch of friends who got together to do what we do best – shoot a lot & do it really, really fast! Photographers, cameramen, art directors & stylists followed. There was laughter, jokes, goofing off & even some friendly competition. Next thing you know – magic happened! There were hero shots, product close-ups (of course), real action video, a shoot-house with multiple high-tech cameras at weird angles and even a gag reel. The truth is, it was good because it was genuine, because we all love the smell of gun powder more than that of our morning coffee… The final result – dunno, what I’m sharing is all I’ve got but it MUST BE EPIC because 5.11 is keeping the final promo top-secret until spring! Ah, the anticipation…
On the last day of our photo shoot we got to play around & do what we usually do: SHOOT FAST. I was pretty stoked with my 3.12 sec run on the plates (pictured here) until my teammate Allie smoked us all with under 3 sec. Fun times!
All in all, we worked hard ( I know, somebody had to do it, lol) – shot from sunrise to sunset for 3 days straight. We were cold, we were hot, we were tired & hyperactive all at once. We laughed, drank coffee, ate & even celebrated my birthday together! The experience changed my perception of the industry. They DO care about females; they are starting to make products that actually fit our bodies & lifestyles and they are noticing our presence on the competition circuit. It was refreshing to work with a company that wanted to feature real female shooters, not just models. And it was refreshing to get our voice heard. As far as the photo-shoot itself; it was a blast! Most of us don’t do this on a regular basis. We have jobs like everyone else, we take our kids to Girl & Boy Scouts, we do laundry & then we put on our competition rigs to lock & load with the guys. So being a part of such a monumental project that will assert women shooters’ badassery (there’s that word again) worldwide was a major treat. It was a memorable experience for all of us & we hope our message comes through in the campaign this Spring.
So when it comes out – like it, share it, show it to your friends & the women in your life & tell everyone I said: “Watch out boys, female shooters aren’t just a bunch of pretty faces. We are here to stay and the industry is taking notice!”
It’s a wrap!
Your friendly neighborhood gun lady,
For more shooting adventures, join me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/diana.hufstedler
And since I’m a major believer in giving credit where credit is due, here are my acknowledgements. Major thanks to the following people/entities:
Taran Butler & the entire staff of TTI for hosting the event at their range & providing our team with top-notch guns & gear. Also, for being genuinely awesome all around!
Federal Premium for the piles of ammo we burned through ;)
5.11 Tactical’s leadership team not only for featuring real female shooters, but also for making clothing that is actually designed for women. Stuff actually fits AND looks good: mind blown!
The 5.11 Media crew, who were a hoot to work with:
Eric Katzenberg, the ultra-fun, uber-talented, multitasking “Boss-man”, aka Director of Media Content. Thanks for doing it all & having a great sense of humor.
Matt Frederick, the quiet but amazingly insightful Art Director. Thanks for ensuring we all look good and our genuine badassery (I can’t stop saying that, I think I stole it from Eric actually…) comes through.
Jesse Clements, the photographer that will roll around, lay on the ground, stand in front of our (EMPTY) guns and just altogether do anything to get the shot. Thanks for being patient with us, non-model models. :)
Hawk Vacarro, our favorite cameraman who, aside from having the ability to somehow loop around you no matter what you’re doing, is also one of the most genuinely nice guys I’ve ever met. Thank you for being so good to us & making us feel very relaxed. We owe you a birthday celebration! ;)
Mariva England, the sweetest, coolest, most adorable makeup & wardrobe lady. Thank you for ensuring we always looked good and bringing light into this world with your beautiful smile!
Lyndsey Grove, the Marketing Manager who did not hesitate to drive to the location and bring more needed clothes & supplies. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about what really matters to female shooters!
Nabil Khattar, I’m not sure what your title is but all I know is that when something was needed – you were always there. Thank you for not gassing us to death with that smoke machine! :D
Kenji & Kevin, I did not get to talk to you as much and that was because you were so busy capturing the magic. Thank you!
And now, a little bonus because you scrolled all the way down: a teaser behind the scenes clip of Jessica Hook & I shreadding with our AR-15’s. We were having so much fun that it was sad every time the director yelled “Cut”. It was cool, though, cause it made us feel like movie stars or something. ;)