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15 Minutes of Fame: Award-winning Doritos ad writer rocks Horde pride

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

Football fans, we love you and we do feel your rightful enthusiasm, but admit it: The TV commercials are the best part of every Super Bowl. Just a few short weeks or months after the game, most people don't remember much about the games themselves -- but I'll bet most of us remember the Doritos commercial where the unsuspecting corporate cube drone lobs a snowglobe into his boss's nads. That 2009 ad spot grabbed the #1 ad meter position away from Budweiser for the first time in 10 years. Its creators: two of the five Herbert brothers -- and yes, 15 Minutes of Fame regulars, you guessed it ... three of them play World of Warcraft.

Since the Doritos bonanza landed Joe Herbert and his brother Dave on Leno, The Today Show, and more, the duo has been hard at work turning out more hip commercials and a board game that's in stores now. The thing that caught our attention, though, was the fantastic cinematic Joe produced for the guild he and another brother lead, and the Warsong Band. Settle in for an enjoyable trip through the history of the Warsong Band, above, and then join us for a chat with Joe Herbert for Doritos, snowglobes, PvP, board games and more.


Main character Venefix
Guild and the Warsong Band
Realm Windrunner (US-H)

15 Minutes of Fame: TV commercials, board games, World of Warcraft guilds ... It's pretty darn cool that you're so tight with your brothers. Did you all grow up as a gaming family?

Joe Herbert/Venefix: I'm the oldest of five brothers -- three of which play WoW together. We are not only brothers, but best of friends. All of us are very close -- most of the time. We do still have our occasional "brotherly" moments that make the tensions between Horde and Alliance look like child's play.

Whether or not we grew up a "gaming" family is hard to say. Our parents were strict in a good way and limited us on the amount of video games and TV watching we could do, so we found ourselves doing other things -- including going outside and using our imagination. We also played a lot of board game and card games. We were, are, and always will be very competitive with each other. This is why playing games and sports was such a big part of our lives growing up. Wherever there can be a winner and a loser and talent has a direct influence on that outcome, you'll find us at the center of it striving to be the best we can be (or at least better than the other brothers LOL).

With so many projects going, it sounds like your schedule must be pretty hectic. How do you find the time?

I've never been a major gamer when it comes to video games. My busy schedule keeps real life very interesting. I have time for one game, and that game is World of Warcraft. I'm drawn to it because I'm drawn to anything that allows me to use my own creativity. And I've always been a fan of the fantasy world genre. A typical day in my life consists of waking up around 6:40 a.m. to wake the my two kids up for school. My son Pierce is 6 years old, and my daughter Kennedy is 4. Then I work all day, which is fun, so can it really be considered work?

When I come home, I play with the kids and enjoy time with my wife, Jayme. I'm a late owl, and after everyone is in bed, I do one of three things. Work some more if I'm on a deadline. Wind down by watching a movie or some television. Or, my favorite these days ... immerse myself in the World of Warcraft until 2 a.m. or so, get 4 to 5 hours of sleep and do it all again. I do get to sleep in on weekends, though!

And you and your brother still find time to lead your guild!

Three of us five brothers play WoW. The other two bums are a combination of too busy, less interested in the fantasy genre, and just not cool enough. The three of us brothers manage our own Horde guild called the Warsong Band (officially, it's "and the Warsong Band," so it reads nicely in the game under our names -- Venefix and the Warsong Band).

... We are all very dedicated toward improvement and aggressive in our effort to play end content, but we have no requirements placed on guildmates, and our primary objective is to just have fun. Many of us love to PvP. Arenas are fun, battlegrounds are very entertaining, but real-world PvP is the best. We like to raid Alliance cities and towns. We have a good group of PvE raiders and dungeon slayers, but my own personal preference is PvP because I love the competition of playing against a real person, not to mention the unpredictability that comes with each fight.

My brother Josh (Wokoom) is the guild leader. He's played this game longer than I have; he is very good and knowledgeable of every aspect of the game. He's a great leader. In real life, he served in the Army and did two tours in Iraq. He's a hero and a leader in our country, and it makes sense that he's good at this game and leading our guild. My brother Pete (Jibjub) is a writer, and a great one at that. His passion for the fantasy genre makes his writing equally good for this type of platform. He wrote our guild charter and lore for the website, as well as the voiceover for the cinematic.

Sounds like you're a big fan of PvP.

My brothers and I have this thing (a Warsong "Band" thing, if you will) where after we kill Alliance, we'll drop a banner, shine a light down on the corpse, and rock out (/dance) in the name of the Warsong Band (see screenshot, above). I included a group photo of myself with my brothers Wokoom (Josh Herbert) and Jibjub (Pete Herbert) rocking a Warsong concert in the throne room at Org with our Warchief (see screenshot, below).

So how did the idea come up for the guild cinematic?

The idea to produce a guild cinematic came out of my passion for creativity and filmmaking. The WoW cinematics are amazing and really draw you into the game even further. I wanted something like that for our guild, plus I simply like that world and I love editing, so it made sense. And, in the spirit of competition, I want our guild to be at the top of the coolness charts when stacked up against other guilds.

Tell us a little about the process of creating the cinematic.

I would love to get full credit for our wicked cool animatic, but really 99% of the visuals are from existing WoW cinematics and other online videos from other gamers. I simply collected as many clips that I could and rearranged them in a way that made sense for our story, and inserted a few clips of my own where needed and so that our characters would be featured in it.

The tricky part in creating the cinematic is that other video clips I get all have sound, music or voiceovers already in them. I collected dozens of clips from dozens of videos and removed the sound on all of them. Then I did my own sound design on our cinematic adding in sound effects and music. I had a friend/colleague of mine do the voiceover because he does that professionally and has a great deep voice for something epic and dramatic like our cinematic was intended to be.

All of the sound and clips were edited in Final Cut Pro and output for the web. I'm working on taking my own clips from the game and our guild, and once I have a lot to choose from, I will begin work on some compilation videos to add to our guild YouTube channel.

Let's hop away from the game for a moment and talk a little bit about your board game and what you're working on currently.

I love my job. I do two things, really. Filmmaking and game invention. Our first board game, Triviathon, is available in some stores now and growing in popularity. GAMES magazine named it the #1 new party game in the U.S. in 2010, and we're a two-time Creative Child magazine Game of the Year winner. Triviathon was licensed to United States Playing Card recently, and they have plans to grow distribution over the next couple years.

In addition, we have several new games in development, and our second game should be available in stores this year if all goes well. On the filmmaking end, we're interested in breaking into feature films, but make a living in advertising. We specialize in funny commercials, and our most recognized ad is our Free Doritos spot that won the 2009 Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest, aired during the game, and was ultimately named the #1 Super Bowl commercial of 2009 -- a historic feat, because nobody has been able to beat Budweiser for that honor in ten years. That commercial earned us a lot of publicity, and we even appeared as guests on both The Today Show and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, not to mention winning us $1 million in the Doritos contest.

Whew! Is there any cross-pollination of ideas between WoW and your various projects? Can you point to any seeds of ideas that have sprung from something in game?

Since releasing Triviathon in 2009, we have invented a half-dozen other games that are in various stages of development and until product launch are also kept secret under confidentiality agreements. One project in particular can be linked to my passion with the fantasy genre and World of Warcraft. We are working on a trading card game with dice -- and while it draws some comparisons to WoW and other trading cards in that it is a trading card game of the fantasy genre, it is also very unique in format, play, and more.

What's on the front burner right now on your desk? And in game?

Well, a handful of things. Our trading card game along with three other games are in development and keep us busy. On the filmmaking side, we're still doing funny commercials, and we've written a feature film script and are teaming up with two producers in Los Angeles to raise financing for our first movie, so we're on the edge of our seat to get that green-lit. Despite our fame in the world of comedy, our feature that we wrote is a very interesting psychological thriller. We're getting close, and it's an exciting time in our careers.

With everything we have going on, it's great to have a couple hours each night to relax, wind down, and play World of Warcraft as a creative outlet for my brain to enjoy while it takes a break from all the heavy thinking I do in real life.

Enjoy, Joe -- and best of luck with all the projects!

Catch the Herbert brothers' films at HerbertBrothers.com, watch their commercials on their YouTube channel (that's Peter Herbert in the Go Daddy commercial – "the dude that looks like Jesus"), and look up their board game Triviathon online.

"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to an Olympic medalist and a quadriplegic raider. Know someone else we should feature? Email lisa@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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