Heroes Inside Us

DEVIN Spring Water
Leo Burnett Bucharest, Romania
Director: Ivan Botev
DOP: Alexander Kartsov
Producer: Virginia Venkova

* as seen on Ads of the World *

Case Study on a Social Experiment for DEVIN Spring Water


Brief | 4 production companies briefed for the project.

Casting | Over 50 real people who wanted to share with us who their heroes are and why.

Crew | Over 30 crew members working in strict confidentiality the whole time.


Director’s Treatment &Strategy



Location Scouting


Photo Production

Equipment Rental

Production design

Video Editing

Color Corrections

Sound Design & Mix

The Concept

On 28th of June along with Devin Spring Water we conducted аn authentic social experiment, documented in a video commercial.

Devin Spring Water created the concept based on an anthropological study which showed that Bulgarians are tired, stressed and moody. They had decided to embark on a challenge through a social experiment with real people and their loved ones and to show that in today’s world of stress and obligations someone is seeing You as a Hero. Hero means that You influence people close to you by caring for them and making their life a better place, sometimes without even realizing it.

We invited ordinary people to share with us more about themselves and choose the word that describes them best:Tense, Overwhelmed, Regular, Hero. We called these people “Batman”. Without them knowing, we also invited their close ones to rate them in parallel. We called them “Robin”. That’s where the magic began to happen. In today’s world of stress, information overload and commitments,we all feel stretched to our limits and rarely see ourselves as heroes. But on 28th of June 2020, ten people saw themselves through the eyes of their loved ones as true heroes of the everyday’s life.


From the very beginning the idea was for something bigger and more important than just a traditional or ordinary commercial – one of the main purposes in front of us was to give people the emotional strength to conquer the everyday stress, uncertainty, fatigue and see themselves as heroes.


That’s why the well – conducted and very extensive casting was one of the biggest challenges of the pre-production. Casting for real people to participate in a real social experiment is very different from casting actors and extras to participate in a typical commercial. We reached over 50 people with the following brief: “Tell us about your personal hero.” We were trying to find the stories that maybe someone else won’t see as unique or interesting, trying to read between the lines.

After carefully choosing our stories we had to make contact with all of the Batman characters with a cover story to slightly mislead them and make them want to come and participate in a videotaped interview for Devin Spring Water’s Study for Hydration. We had to convince every Batman of the importance of his/her participation in this official hydration study. We had long and friendly conversations with them, explaining the importance of this topic and why they are exactly the type of person we are looking for. Risky, but fun and challenging in a good way.

So far so good, the next big challenge was to keep this secret until the end, until we surprised each of our Batman characters with the message and thoughts of their Robins about them. It was a complex and challenging process for the whole crew but everyone came through spectacularly and made the impossible – possible.

And it happened even better than planned because of the great impact this experiment had on the participants – long held breaths, laughter, tears, a fast heartbeat, so many hugs, kisses and surprised eyes. Without a doubt, we can say that this day has become an unforgettable experience not only for the Batman characters and their Robins, but also for the whole crew involved.

How handplayed helped

There was a high degree of involvement during the project from the moment we took the brief and made it a road map, adding to it our expertise in production by finding the right people to take part as crew members, organize everything and shoot it as clean and as simple as possible.

For us, this was not only a simple TVC shoot  , in which we would provide everything a production company usually needs to provide. It was a challenge of two shooting days in which we told 10 unique and personal stories about 10 people, keeping the authenticity with the environment created on set with a flexible and supportive approach from everyone in the team.


- 1 x web video | 3:20 min. ; 3 x TVC video | 32 sec.; 1 x TVC video | 22 sec. ; 3 x pre-rolls | 15 sec.

- Photosession.

- Ten couples of happy people. Each of them filled with love and gratitude from a loved one.

IVAN BOTEV, Director:

This project was a pure joy to work on. Thanks to the brilliant insight of Leo Burnett Bucharest, the great leadership of Devin Spring in the face of Hristo Kenanski and the impeccable job done by handplayed, the two days spent shooting this commercial were just incredible.
Every single participant, of whom there were 20, left the set overfilled with joy and love. I have never been to a shooting where half the time the client, the agency, and even crew members couldn't hold their tears as they were looking at the screens - it was stunning! Truly an amazingly emotional and positive experiences for all involved that we will remember for a long long time. The great energy and love of participants & crew is well-evident in the final clip.
The truth is, given the complexity of the project, at any given point everything could have fallen apart, had it not been for the amazing job done by handplayed. Instead of treating it like a cookie-cutter commercial, the way many other producers I know would have,Virginia and Angel adapted like water to the unique demands of this project.They organized a deep casting process, maintained multiple levels of secrecy between the various participants and expertly persuaded regular people to come in front of the camera, not knowing what was going to happen. I was thoroughly impressed by this crew - every single person did an absolutely amazing job,despite all the pressures, limitations and problems in the way, all working together to make all this possible and gift joy to all present. Heroes indeed.


Client: DEVIN

Advertising Agency:Leo Burnett Bucharest, Romania

Director: Ivan Botev

Director of Photography: Alexander Kartsov

Production design: Vanya Ivanova

Wardrobe: Mirela Vasileva

Psychologist: Kremena Stanilova

Composer: Daniel Ivanov

Photographer: Zlatimir Arakliev


1st AD: Yana Alexieva

2nd AD: Krasimira Krasteva

Set Manager:Alexander Skerlev

PAs: Yavor Dobrev,Milko Stareishinski


Camera operator: Kaloyan Ignatov

Focus Puller: Mladen Minev, Bobi Mitrev

2nd ACs: Kaloyan Ignatov, Sergey Gyaurov, Simona Ravalieva

DIT: Ivaylo Stefanov

Edit on set: Daniyar Irgaliev

Making: Alexander Pehlev

Assistant photographer: Nikolay Nedelchev


Art Department Assistansts: Kostadin Dervenski, Dimitar Iliev

Wardrobe Asistant: Johana Trayanova


Make up & Hair: Yana Dodova & Rositsa Zabunova


Gaffer: Philip Penev

Electrician : Kiril Yonchev

Key Grip: Eduard Moskalenko

Grip: Mario Popov

Sound on set: Rossen Pavlov

Generator: Borislav Toshev

Wardrobe bus: Ivan Ivanov

Doctors on set: Joanna Georgieva & Tsvetomir Kolev


Catering: VV Catering


Editing: Ivan Botev

Color Grading:Alexander Kartsov

Audio design &mix: Daniel Ivanov


Producer: Virginia Venkova, handplayed


Starring: Rostislav Damyanov, Plamen Dokovski, Plamen Dokovski Junior, Georgi Marinov, Tsvetan Mladenov, Aleksey Potebnya, Gabriela Tashkova, Evgenia Rupova, Petrana Petrova,Emil Ivanov, Sofia Ruhova-Lulcheva, Tea Marinova, Bistra Mladenova, Sirma Kuncheva, Kaloyan Lulchev, Nikol Otashliiska, Lubomir Todorov, Jumer Mestan, Georgi Kraev, Yavor Gadzhev


As early as the moment of the concept presentation we knew that, should we go with the “Heroes Inside Us” idea, the biggest challenge ahead would be the execution of the social experiment and the recruitment of the participants in particular. Although the creative agency and we already had several ideas regarding the organization of the recruitment we decided that this should be one of the main criterion in the selection of the production house. After thorough research of other similar projects and the way they were organized, combined with careful focus on each detail of the whole process, handplayed and the director Ivan Botev proposed a rather simple, at the core, but very effective way in recruiting our potential participants, based on a slight “mislead” about the nature of the project. The approach managed to keep the secret purpose of the shooting until the very last minute, the surprise of which brought out genuine and natural reactions in the participants, which was at the core of the success of the experiment and its execution. The superb organization around the experiment, combined with the outstanding professionalism of the entire team made that happen.

HRISTO KENANSKI, Devin Spring Water’s Brand Manager
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