Diehard Battery Torture Tests

DieHard batteries have been put to the test in two experiments filmed by Zoo Films director James Frost, of OK GO and Radiohead music video fame. One commercial shows the batteries powering a keyboard made of cars for Gary Numan to perform “Cars”. In the second experiment, a DieHard Platinum battery is tested against a .458 caliber guide rifle, its bullet speeding at 2000 feet per second, and the Mojave desert heat.

Diehard Battery Cars in Gary Numan commercial

Click on the image below to play the DieHard Battery vs. Gary Numan video.

Click on the image below to play the DieHard Battery vs. The Bullet video.


The Torture Test campaign was developed at Y&R Chicago by chief creative officer Ken Erke, associate creative director Todd Taber and Jamie Overkamp, head of production Brian Smego, and producer Luke Rzewnicki.

Filming was shot by director James Frost via Zoo Films with executive producer Gower Frost, line producer Sam Khazaeni, director of photography Dermott Downs, production designer Jason Hamilton.

Experiential design was done at Syyn Labs.

Editorial was Ruben Vela at Optimus, Chicago with producer Tracy Spera, assistant editor Jill DiBiase and colorist Craig Leffel.

Sound was produced by audio engineer Joel Anderson. Music was by Beta Petrol.

James Frost on “Diehard Battery vs. The Bullet”

When I got involved in the project back in late April, the agency Y&R Chicago, presented me with the ideas they had so far and wanted to get me involved in the creative process, it was quite amazing to be asked to be involved that early on. One of the ideas they had was shooting the battery with a gun. This seemed like something we could immediately test so they could go back to their client and say categorically it worked, or not. What we didn’t know was that on our first test, after we shot three different guns (.357 Magnum, .45 caliber handgun and a .31 caliber rifle) using multiple rounds (approx 60 rounds) was the battery would work fine. It was quite simply bonkers. I would not have believed it if I was not actually present.

We all regrouped on the phone, myself, Todd Taber, Jamie Overkamp and Luke Rzewnicki from Y&R to discuss seeing really what the battery could take before it didn’t work. This ultimately involved upping the weaponry. We conducted a second test with much higher caliber weapons and this included the .458 caliber rifle, AKA the elephant gun. We again went out to the range and used a series of guns from a .457 Magnum to an AK47 to a high-powered sniper rifle. When we shot the elephant gun, which Jason Hamilton my production designer shot, it blew the battery in half. It was an “oh shit” moment, then we hooked it up and it started. It was amazing. So we decided this was our gun.

I wanted the location to feel remote, like the meeting of two minds, the gunman and the engineers, as if they meeting for a sort of duel. A shooting range would have felt too controlled and too claustrophobic, so we chose a remote area in the Mojave Desert where it would take some real effort to get to, not just for the characters but for the crew.

James Frost on Diehard Battery vs. Gary Numan

When I received the first round of creative, I got on the phone with Todd Taber, Jamie Overkamp and Luke Rzewnicki at Y&R and we bounced some ideas back and forth. We wanted to create a bigger idea with the three original concepts, something that was visual, musical and something that pushed the battery to a limit of some kind. One weekend I was watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and while watching I had this idea about making banks of cars react to a keyboard with sound and light, so I rang Adam Sadowsky of Syyn Labs who I’d recently worked with on OK Go. We met one lunchtime and bounced a bunch of ideas and theories around – whether it was seemingly possible to achieve it etc. It was from this conversation that the car piano was born. So I went back to Y&R and said we felt confident that we could pull it off. They liked the idea, so we began the process of researching and putting the project together.

Logistically we had to work out how to control each cars headlight and horn with a single key on a keyboard. It’s not possible to tune each car horn, so instead we got our own horns and tuned them to a pitch that was controlled via a keyboard. This way we could actually re-create two octaves on a keyboard using cars. Everything had to be wired up together but still allow the car to operate. The guys at Syyn labs worked ferociously up until the last minute to make sure everything worked – most notably Eric Gradman who seemed to be in multiple places at once.

I want to also say that Jason Hamilton my production designer and his crew worked so incredibly hard to make sure everything was in place to allow the Syyn Labs guys to come in and do the wiring, they had to position all the cars, set them up all in the middle of nowhere in blazing heat and the occasional 35mph dust storm. Jason & I also designed the Frost/Hamilton DHK1 keyboard, which is a fully functioning double stack keyboard – it looks and sounds great folks 😉

Then about a month before we were due to shoot I woke up in the middle of the night and said, “What about Gary Numan playing Cars on Cars?” The next morning I emailed the guys at Y&R immediately and they loved the idea, they told me to go ahead and approach him to see if he would even be remotely interested. I contacted his booking agent here in the states and from there the conversations started.

Working with Gary, well what can I say, one of my earliest memories of a song having a big impact on me was “Are Friends Electric” by Tubeway Army (of which Gary Numan was the lead singer), so it was obviously an honor to meet him in the first place, being English and everything, but I have to say the conditions of this shoot were not easy, we shot overnight deep in the Mojave desert some three hours outside of LA and Gary flew from London the night before and then had to sit in a car for five hours to get to location (LA Traffic) and stayed with us until about 3-4AM, when he left and drove back to catch a plane back to London. He was nothing short of a gentleman, who was really I think quite intrigued and amused by the idea of himself playing Cars on Cars.