Painstaking talent search results in jaw-dropping Mexico Tourism film

Leo Burnett's Lapiz hunted down lookalikes for two random workaholics, then sent them on vacation

A touching new ad for the Mexico Tourism Board from Leo Burnett offshoot Lapiz uses acting doubles to show workaholics the adventures they could be having if they could just take the time.

Confronted by people who look just like them, admitted workaholics Ann and Mike are stunned to see films of their doubles partaking in their favorite activities — horseback riding, scuba diving, scenic photography. They repent of their off-kilter work-life balance and are rewarded with tickets to Mexico.

Fear of missing out is a classic sell for travel spots, so Lapiz, which until recently packaged itself as a Hispanic marketing agency, wanted to crank the FOMO as high as it could go. "You see your friends on Facebook. They’re on vacation, and you’re working," said Lizette Morazzani, creative director at Lapiz. "What the worst thing we could do? Well, if you saw yourself, it’s double the FOMO."

Logistically, a spot like this is complicated. "We had to make that decision, either we go with finding two people that are alike, or we find the story," Morazzani said. "We thought the story is the most powerful thing, and then just finding someone that just looks like that person could probably be easier."

"It wasn’t easier," she added. "But we did find them."

The doppelgängers, particularly Ann’s, do look eerily similar to the originals. Lapiz worked with Danbell Casting in L.A. to put out a casting call for actors that matched the workaholics’ build and coloration, even asking for "specific eyes" to match Ann’s. They screened about 60 actors before finding the ones they ultimately used. "You have to be very careful how you pick these people," Morazzani said. "You don’t want to see someone worse looking than you."

The agency had considered using retirees or people who had never traveled outside the US, but the workaholics scored the highest on an entry test. To make sure their subjects would emote on camera, Lapiz showed all candidates video of puppies playing. The workaholics responded the most enthusiastically.

Ann and Mike were told they were being enlisted for a "documentary" on their all-work-and-no-play lifestyles. The ruse allowed Lapiz to get answers to personal questions — what’s your favorite food? Favorite color? Favorite activity? What’s on your bucket list? — that could be incorporated into the doppelgängers’ adventures.

Ann loves riding horses, so her double (coincidentally, a trained equestrian) rode a horse on the beach. Mike is an avid photographer and had always wanted to become certified as a scuba diver (in another coincidence, his double was already certified). Ann’s favorite color is red, so her double often wears that color — the better to fully immerse Ann and Mike. "We made sure that every single detail really made them feel that it was them that they were actually seeing, not just an actor in Mexico."

And the originals weren’t the only ones Lapiz surprised. Both actors were told they would be shooting a tourism spot in Mexico, but they didn’t know in advance what it entailed. "We wanted their reaction to everything they were doing to be authentic," Morazzani said. That’s genuine trepidation before Ann’s double leaps off the cliff.

"They were like, ‘Oh my god, this is the best job I’ve ever had in my life. Thank you so much for this.’ "

The reveal needed to be as carefully coordinated as the shoot. The footage used in the spot of the face-to-face meeting for each couple is the only take. As part of the "documentary," Lapiz knew which outfits each of the originals would wear, allowing Lapiz to duplicate the clothing as well.

The spot, which will live online only, doesn’t need to rely on new technologies like virtual reality. "It’s a way of living an experience long distance that is not necessarily digital," Morazzani  said. "I think that’s very special. It’s very human-centric."

Lapiz became Mexico Tourism’s AOR in 2014 and has played with identity for the client before. After Hurricane Patricia devastated parts of the country last year, the agency filmed actress Patricia Heaton being welcomed in the affected areas to show there were no hard feelings against Patricias. 

Subscribe today for just $116 a year

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free