Mayor Jenn Daniels is boogying and singing along to Huey Lewis and the News’ Back in Time as she rides past iconic landmarks in Gilbert such as the Water Tower and Liberty Market restaurant.
The town’s newest Carpool Karaoke video features the theme from the “Back to the Future” movie and comes with a message – everyone will need to get involved to help shape Gilbert’s future as it turns 100 this year.
“We are in a critical point,” Daniels said. “We’re 100 and we’re looking for the next 100 years. It’s a pretty authentic conversation we have pretty regularly with anybody we encounter.”
The town’s videos are a take on The Late Late Night Show’s “Carpool Karaoke,” which features host James Corden driving while he and a musical guest, such as Paul McCartney, Adele and Madonna, sing along to one of their songs.
“This is the latest in the series and the idea is we share critical information on what local government is doing in a fun and engaging way,” Daniels said, adding:
“I have a lot of trust built up with our communications team and so when they have an idea about how to, in this case, share our vision for the city of the future, I didn’t hesitate and was excited to participate.”
The latest and fifth in the karaoke videos includes Valley director and actor Tim Dietlein, who wears a white wig and lab coat in his role of Doc Brown.
The duo is even in a replica of the DeLorean time machine borrowed from a Gilbert resident.
The 1985 movie, part of a franchise, is about a 17-year-old Marty McFly, who accidentally goes back in time to 1955 with the help of his friend Dr. Emmet “Doc” Brown and his time-traveling DeLorean.
A dashboard-mounted camera captures the two as they reminisce about the bygone days of Gilbert when it was one known as the “Hay Capital of the World.”
“So, mayor, it seems like Gilbert has come a long way in the last 100 years,” Dietlein said. “What do you think the future holds for the city of Gilbert?”
Daniels responds one of the most important things town leaders can do is to have a vision for the community such as how to best serve residents in the transportation revolution and what the much-talked-about connectivity with one another will look like from a futuristic standpoint.
Dietlein then offers to take the mayor in the “time machine” to see what Gilbert will look like 20, 50 years down the line, but she declines.
“The future is not written yet and that’s what I love about Gilbert,” Daniels said. “We can make the future whatever we want it to be for us and every person is going to be involved in that effort. That human connection; that added connection, that’s the most important part.
“I call it the spirit of Gilbert but it’s also the power of love.”
And, at that point, the two break off into another one of Huey Lewis and the News’ hit, “Power of Love.”
“We’re just human, trying to do good,” Daniels said. “So, when we sing off-key or do an awkward dance move, it’s just part of being human and a reflection of the fact we are normal, everyday people.”
It took about an hour to produce the footage for the roughly six-minute video, according to Daniels, who noted preparing for the songs was an easy feat given her exposure to music as a child.
“I love music,” she said. “I know the words of most songs. Learning songs is not that hard. That’s not the hardest part. The hardest part is the coordination of technology. Sometimes it doesn’t work as exactly as planned.”
The town’s Office of Digital Government came up with the idea for the videos with the scripts written by staff digital journalists Jessica Bautista and Elizabeth Rohe.
“Much of the content is also improvised by mayor and her carpool karaoke companions,” town spokeswoman Jennifer Harrison said. “We wanted to capitalize on the popular carpool karaoke trend from The Late Late Show with James Corden and do it in our own way that highlights our unique mayor and her wonderful personality and singing voice.”
Harrison said one of the first episodes, in 2017, was an effort to inform and recruit officers for the Gilbert Police Department and highlight opportunities within the department, like becoming a school resource officer.
Previous episodes also included Daniels riding in a school bus with Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Shane McCord and a group of students as they talk about the district’s accomplishments while singing songs like “The Wheels of the Bus” and Katy Perry’s “Firework.”
“Each episode ties into a larger marketing and outreach goal and they’ve been wildly successful,” Harrison said. “The first episode received more than half a million views and was featured on every local TV station - the other episodes have been some of our most viewed videos across social media to date.”
Harrison added the most recent episode already had more than 17,000 views across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube since its release.
Harrison said staff is currently brainstorming opportunities for the next karaoke video.
“They often come up organically as the topic and participants fit our marketing and outreach goals,” she said. “We like to tie into national social media trends to try to expand our audience and to raise awareness of Gilbert.”
Daniels wouldn’t say which video she likes the most.
“They are all fun, they are all different,” she said. “I refuse to pick a favorite.”
Daniels said the takeaway for the public from the video is building the town’s future will take a lot of hard work and will need everyone’s help.
“I want them to know there is a place for them in Gilbert,” she said. “Not only do we want them here but we need them here for their skills, their talent and ability to make Gilbert a better place. Everybody needs to contribute to make Gilbert what it can be.”
To view the video: youtube.com/watch?v=4N8g87TkaAY.