High Five: April

April 9, 2015 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Five films to restore your faith in advertising.

We were encouraged by the quantity of great advertising that came out over the past month. It made choosing the five best pieces of video advertising even harder than usual, but it’s a good sign. As always, our picks of the month are packed full of talent, wit and finesse. Inspiring stuff.

Brand: Channel 4
Title: The Outsider
Production Company: Nexus
Directors: Smith & Foulkes
Production Company Producer: Tracey Cooper
Ad Agency: 4Creative
Creative Directors: Chris Bovill, John Allison
Creatives: Jack Croft, Stacey Bird
Agency Producer: Shananne Lane
Music Company: SIREN
Composer: Alex Baranowski
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Anthony Moore, Philip Bolland

Channel 4 – The Outsider

Advertising doesn’t always get animation right, but when animators bring a script to life with flair the results can be iconic. Smith & Foulkes can do iconic. We’ve seen that in their work for Honda over the years and more recently in their Stand Up To Cancer ad. Combined with a classic underdog narrative, the master craftsmanship here goes a long way to promoting The Grand National, one of Channel 4’s flagship sporting events. It should appeal to the My Little Pony crowd, especially if the festival can make it through their third year without a horse death.


Brand: Dulux
Title: Colourless Future
Production Company: Somesuch
Director: Daniel Wolfe
Production Company Producer: Dougal Meese
Director of Photography: Robbie Ryan
Ad Agency: BBH London
Creative Directors: Martha Riley, Nick Allsop
Creatives: Richard Hooley, Victoria Jagger
Agency Producer: Kirsty Dye
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Dominic Leung
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designers: Andy Shelley, Stephen Griffiths
Post Production Companies: Framestore (Grading), Glassworks (VFX)

Dulux – Colourless Future

For the past year or so Dulux ads have taken us to dark, dystopian alternate realities of colour prohibition. It’s a slightly ridiculous idea but it’s always been delivered in a tongue-in-cheek way with a beautiful filmic quality. This sci-fi romp could well be the best one yet. Daniel Wolfe’s artful direction combined with brilliant visual effects bring the idea alive. Respect to colourist Simon Bourne too for the striking grade. This must've been an interesting job for a man whose livelihood depends on an understanding of colour. Together they've created a visual feast fit for the big screen.


Brand: TENA
Title: Control
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Jeff Low
Production Company Producer: Toby Courlander
Director of Photography: Alex Melman
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Toby Allen, Jim Hilson
Art Director: Jeremy Tribe
Copywriter: Prabs Wignarajah
Agency Producer: Polly Lowles
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Saam Hodivala
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designer: Aaron Reynolds
Post Production Company: The Mill

TENA – Control

Taking a page out of the Old Spice book of macho advertising, this montage of bizarre vignettes nails a very American brand of humour – an impressive feat considering the awkward nature of the product. Stirling Gravitas, our hero, is perfectly cast and delivers great comic timing under Jeff Low’s skilful direction. It’s funny, but whether it’s right for the audience is something only time will tell. The planners at AMV BBDO probably know what they’re doing, so we can only give them the benefit of the doubt for now.


Brand: Volvo
Title: Life Paint
Production Company: Caviar
Director: Andrew Telling
Production Company Producer: Adam Smith
Director of Photography: Jeremy Valender
Ad Agency: Grey London
Creative Director: Hollie Newton
Creatives: Jonas Roth, Rasmus Smith Bech
Agency Producer: Francesca Mair
Editing Company: GreyWorks
Editor: Matt Newman
Music Company: Wake The Town
Composer: Adam Halogen
Sound Company: GCRS
Sound Designer: Munzie Thind
Post Production Companies: Finish, Gramercy Park Studios

Volvo – Life Paint

We’ll be shocked if this doesn’t win awards. Completely in key with the current spirit of the ad industry, the Life Paint campaign actually makes the world a better place rather than just trotting out rhetoric. Safety and innovation are at the heart of what Volvo is respected for so it works perfectly for them. But more importantly, this new product will likely save lives. The film’s great too. Directed by Andrew Telling, who we featured back when he was still unsigned a couple of years ago, it gets the idea across clearly and with a visual panache that any Scandinavian brand would be proud of.


Brand: Weedol
Title: I’m Weeding Right Now
Production Companies: dummy., Outsider
Director: Harold Einstein
Executive Producers: Richard Packer, Eric Liney
Director of Photography: Jonathan Freeman
Ad Agency: McGarryBowen
Creative Directors: Remco Graham, Richard Holmes
Agency Producer: Abbi Tarrant
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Mark Edinoff
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designer: Aaron Reynolds
Post Production Company: The Mill

Weedol – I’m Weeding Right Now

Talk about no frills. This ad is a single, simple joke making a persuasive point about a product. It’s sort of old school in that way, but that’s why it stands out. They’ve cut the fat and everyone involved has delivered to the best of their abilities for what was almost certianly a slim budget. You don’t often see good commercials for weed killer either, making it all the more impressive.

High Five: March

March 9, 2015 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

The best ads of the month, hammering home the lessons we all need reminding of.

Advertising is full of truisms. A new technique is not a new idea. A good idea is nothing without good execution. Simplicity is smarter than complexity. We won’t go on. We’ve heard it all before. But looking at the best stuff the industry turns out is a great way to remind ourselves of these things. This month’s cream of the crop contains quite a few lessons. Get ready to be schooled.


Brand: BMW
Title: The Road to Twickenham
Production Company: Stink
Director: CD Morrish
Production Company Producer: Tom Knight
Ad Agency: FCB Inferno
Creative Director: Owen Lee
Art Director: Neil Durber
Copywriter: Nick O’Bryan-Tear
Agency Producer: Tom Collbeck
Editor: Vid Price
Music Company: Felt Music
Sound Company: Angell Sound
Sound Designer: Dave Robinson
Post Production Company: MPC

BMW – The Road to Twickenham

Arguably the biggest battle in advertising is to stand out from other advertising. This ad is certainly different from the others. While other brands shout at you with bright colours and folksy covers of second-rate power ballads, this film carries itself with a quiet dignity and simplicity. Just a series of roadside vistas accompanied by the surging roar of rugby fans. BMW deserve applause for signing off an ad without a single shot of one of their cars in it – that takes some courage. It’s more of an ad for rugby than cars, but BMW have clearly paid for that right and they’ve made the most of it here.


Brand: Fairtrade
Title: Fairtrade Matters
Production Company: HLA
Director: Will Robson-Scott
Production Company Producer: Tim Daukes
Executive Producer: Mike Wells
Ad Agency: Good Agency
Editor: Adam Biskupski
Music Companies: Elsham Music, Fox Music
Post Production Company: The Mill

Fairtrade – Fairtrade Matters

This 90-second film demonstrates the power Fairtrade has to change the lives of those it protects, as well as to enrich the communities those people live in. It’s a simple, honest approach reminding us of an initiative we should all support but many forget about. It doesn’t take much to check for a logo on your box of tea bags, but it has a profound effect on the lives of farmers and workers who bring us that produce. HLA also produced a 12-minute documentary available to view online.


Brand: Honda
Title: Keep Up
Production Company: FRIEND
Director: ManvsMachine
Production Company Producer: Luke Jacobs
Ad Agency: Wieden+Kennedy London
Creative Directors: Scott Dungate, Graeme Douglas
Creatives: Bertie Scrase, Christen Brestrup, Caleb Al-Jorani
Agency Producer: Jo Charlesworth
Music Company: Wah Wah
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: Analog

Honda – Keep Up

This ad is firing on all cylinders. A sharp brand insight translated into an idea that cleverly illustrates it, envisioned and shot beautifully, accompanied by sound design and music that only amplifies its potency. We’d be more surprised if Honda and Wieden+Kennedy came up with a dud than this – their usual high standard – but that doesn’t diminish its power. Certainly the sort of commercial advertising people like. But will the public talk about it too?


Brand: Department of Transport
Title: Lights
Production Company: Academy Films
Director: Frederic Planchon
Production Company Producer: Medb Riordan
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Steve Jones and Martin Loraine
Art Director: Rob Messeter
Copywriter: Mike Crowe
Agency Producer: Nick Godden
Editing Company: The Assembly Rooms
Editor: Sam Rice-Edwards
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Desginer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: MPC

Department of Transport - Lights

If the government are trying to scare drug users off the roads then this film might serve its purpose well. Frederic Planchon knows how to create an atmosphere, and there’s certainly a powerful sense of dread here (maybe they got Super Hans from Peep Show to compose the music). It’s a sinister-feeling piece and whether or not this tactic makes the roads safer, it’s undeniably thought provoking.


Brand: Volkswagen
Title: Boss
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Pete Riski
Production Company Producer: James Hatcher
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Steve Wioland, Matt Woolner
Creatives: James Gillham, Graham Cappi
Agency Producer: Catherine Cullen
Editing Company: Cut+Run
Editor: Eve Ashwell
Sound Company: Clearcut Sound
Post Production Company: Framestore

Volkswagen – Boss

We think this bloke might be one of those rare “ordinary working people” the likes of David Cameron always bang on about. A successful small business owner, working hard to feed his family and those of the people he employs, doing stuff for charity in his spare time. He seems like a stand-up guy – the acceptable face of Capitalism. Pete Riski has done a fine job of getting us to like this model citizen and of course his friends at VW treat him with the respect he deserves. A reassuring little film, showing a surprisingly human side to a multinational motor corporation.

High Five: February

February 9, 2015 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

It's out with the old, in with the new in this month’s best advertising.

Advertisers love talking about the future, but they’re often more bark than bite. They trot out the same old clichés and archetypes – the ones that are ‘tried and tested’ and the result is bland and, ultimately, ineffective for the client. Not so for our pick of the month’s best advertising. Our first High Five selections of 2015 demonstrate exactly how the ad industry should grasp tomorrow – by embracing change and taking ambitious approaches to clients’ problems.

Brand: Ikea
Title: The Joy of Storage
Production Company: Blink
Director: Dougal Wilson
Production Company Producer: Ewen Brown
Director of Photography: Lasse Frank
Ad Agency: Mother London
Creative Directors: Freddy Mandy, Tim McNaughton
Creatives: Pilar Santos, Rich Tahmesebi
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Design: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: MPC

Ikea – The Joy of Storage

It’s been evident for some years that Ikea really care about their advertising. Their partnership with Mother has delivered impressive work for and this epic is one of their most extraordinary yet. Considering they’re flogging wardrobes, you could argue their approach is over-the-top. But they were ambitious enough to go for it and with ingenious execution, including puppeteering and heaps of VFX magic, it’s ended up a beautiful piece of storytelling. Who thought more space for your T-shirt collection could be so invigorating?


Brand: Kia
Title: You Make Us Make Better Cars
Production Company: Bare Films
Director: Joanna Bailey
Production Company Producer: Sue Caldwell
Executive Producer: Helen Hadfield
Director of Photography: Ben Smithard
Ad Agency: Innocean Worldwide UK
Creative Directors: John Crozier, Dom Sweeney
Agency Producer: Emma Smalley, Alister Campbell
Editing Company: Speade
Editor: Melanie Ann Oliver

Kia – You Make Us Make Better Cars

The genius of this ad lies in the casting. Finding the perfect combination of likeable, charismatic people, Joanna Bailey has managed to create a car commercial about people rather than technology; warm and friendly rather than cold and aspirational. It fits Kia perfectly. They’re not advertising to petrolheads after a new toy to show off at their next track day, just to people who need a car to help them live their lives. The edit is intriguing, cutting off at sometimes unexpected times, but it adds welcome texture to an otherwise straightforward concept.


Brand: MoneySuperMarket
Title:  Dave’s Epic Strut
Production Company: Sonny
Director: Fredrik Bond
Production Company Producer: Shelley Urik
Director of Photography: Roman Vasyanov
Ad Agency: Mother London
Editing Company: Marshall Street Editors
Editor: Tim Thornton-Allen
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Design: Sam Robson
Post Production Company: MPC

MoneySuperMarket – Dave’s Epic Strut

Pure silliness is a tried and tested tactic in today’s advertising and Mother show they know exactly how to pull it off here, but in a way most of us weren’t prepared for. We just got through 2014, “The Year of the Booty” according to the more trivial corners of the media, and there’s something quite in key with the Zeitgeist about subverting that with Dave’s remarkable posterior. The Sharon Osbourne cameo seems a little unnecessary, but they make it work. This campaign continues to deliver the goods in surprising new ways.


Brand: Prince’s Trust
Title: Learn The Heard Way
Production Company: Academy Films
Director: Seb Edwards
Production Company Producer: Dominic Thomas
Director of Photography: Patrick Duroux
Ad Agency: CHI London
Creative Directors: Gavin Torrance, Danny Hunt
Art Director: William Cottam
Copywriter: James Crosby
Agency Producer: David Jones
Editing Company: The Assembly Rooms
Editor: Sam Rice-Edwards
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Post Production Company: MPC

Prince’s Trust – Learn The Hard Way

Our society is far from the meritocracy the establishment would have you believe it is. And this film powerfully reminds us of the hardships some face to make their way in the world. The link between what you see and what you hear is smart, clearly illustrating the strength of character and workplace skills that the least privileged possess, even if it’s hard for them to get the opportunities to demonstrate them. Hopefully this will help the Prince's Trust bridge the opportunity gap, as well as reminding the ad industry to make sure they’re offering opportunities to people from all backgrounds, not just those who grew up in the right households.


Brand: Sport England
Title: This Girl Can
Production Company: Somesuch
Director: Kim Gehrig
Production Company Producer: Lee Groombridge
Director of Photography: David Procter
Ad Agency: FCB Inferno
Creative Director: Bryn Attewell
Art Director: Raymond Chan
Copywriter: Simon Cenamor
Agency Producer: Ally Mee
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Tom Lindsay
Post Production Company: Framestore

Sport England – This Girl Can

In answer to the problem that 2 million less women than men exercise in the UK, with fear and judgement cited as the main barrier, Sport England have rolled out this punchy campaign. Perfectly underscored by Missy Elliot’s Get Ur Freak On, women of all ages, stages and sizes get active and embrace exercise without worrying about what others think. It’s got to be good for body confidence in women as a whole, although has received various criticisms from feminists. It’s worth noting that it came from an all-male creative team (there should be more female creatives), but with Kim Gehrig helming the film it depicts a version of femininity that’s far healthier and more exciting than what we’re used to seeing on our screens.


High Five: December

December 5, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Are you ready for Winter Consumerfest 2014? The best ads of the month might help.

Ding dong merrily on high! It’s that time of year again when capitalism goes into overdrive, with companies splurging huge chunks of their marketing budgets on schmaltzy nonsense to try to convince us to open our wallets for them. And all thanks to the birth of a Middle Eastern baby who may or may not have existed around two millennia ago. Cheers, Jesus.

We’ve certainly got a lot more yuletide marketing come yet, but here’s our rundown of the best efforts the ad industry made in November. Thankfully this year’s Christmas advertising isn’t all schmaltzy nonsense. Some of it’s just schmaltzy.

Brand: Freeview
Title: Left Behinds
Production Company: Rogue
Director: Sam Brown
Production Company Producer:  Kate Hitchings
Ad Agency: Leo Burnett London
Creative Directors: Richard Robinson, Graham Lakeland
Creatives: Rob Tenconi, Mark Franklin
Agency Producer: Becky O’Sullivan
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: James Rosen
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Aaron Reynolds
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Freeview – Left Behinds

We’re quite used to this kind of advertising. Cuteness, everyday setting, clever CGI and a corker of a power ballad to burrow into your brain for the rest of the day. There’s certainly a formula at work here, but we shouldn’t let that fool us into thinking it’s bad. With some of the very best craftsmen realising the script, it’s ended up more than the sum of its parts – a charming film that warms the soul. And a nice Christmas present for Foreigner, without whose track the whole thing would be undermined. A masterstroke of licensing.


Brand: John Lewis
Title: Monty the Penguin
Production Company: Blink
Director: Dougal Wilson
Production Company Producer: Ewen Brown
Director of Photography: Joost Van Gelder
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Ben Priest, Emer Stamp Ben Tollett
Creatives: Daniel Fisher, Richard Brim
Agency Producers: Matt Craigie, Cave Ellson
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Anthony Moore, Neil Johnson
Post Production Company: MPC

John Lewis – Monty the Penguin

The John Lewis Christmas Advert. Somehow, a fairly ordinary department store has managed to carve out a slice of Christmas tradition in Britain.  There are probably people who say “my Christmas starts with the John Lewis ad” (mercifully we haven’t met those people). This year’s offering delivers on so many levels. A wintery tearjerker in which a cute boy buys his cute penguin a cute mail-order bride. It’s heart-warming for the softies and easy to lampoon for the cynics, as the many parody responses have proven. Beautifully written and expertly made, it’s everything John Lewis asked for.


Brand: Maille
Title: Memorable Guest
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Richard Brim, Daniel Fisher
Creatives: Alex Lucas, Jon Farley
Agency Producer: Jack Bayley
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Bill Smedley
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: Finish

Maille – Memorable Guest

It’s unclear whether many people will see this online film, which is a shame because it’s funny. Made very much to the old template of a ‘viral video’, its success will depend on the right people sharing it online (and how much seeding Maille pay for). James Rouse made his name doing willy jokes on the internet and he’s still one of the best at this art form, delivering his unmistakable brand of nuanced comic performance. Respect to Maille for buying this filth. For a mustard brand with heritage, it’s a leftfield strategy.


Brand: Sainsbury’s
Title: Christmas is for Sharing
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Ringan Ledwidge
Production Company Producer: James Hatcher
Director of Photography: Alwin Kuchler
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Alex Grieve, Adrian Rossi, Michael Durban, Tony Strong
Creative: Tim Riley
Agency Producers: Rebecca Scharf, Nikki Holbrow, Kate O’Mulloy
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Rich Orrick
Music Company: Woodwork Music
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Aaron Reynolds
Post Production Company: The Mill

Sainsbury’s – Christmas is for Sharing

As if people weren’t talking about the Christmas ads enough already, Sainsbury’s go and throw some controversy into the mix. We’ve all heard both sides of the argument over whether it’s in good taste or not, but it’s hard to deny that it’s a rousing piece of film about one of the most heartening moments in human history, set against a backdrop of one of the most horrifying moments in human history. Take the Sainsbury’s logo off the end we’d be united in support for this excellent piece of storytelling.


Brand: Think!
Title: Don’t Drink and Drive 50th Anniversary
Production Company: Rogue
Director: Mark Zilbert
Production Company Producer: James Howland
Director of Photography: Jaime Feliu-Torres
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Steve Jones, Martin Loraine
Creatives: Mike Sutherland, Martin Loraine
Agency Producer: Nick Godden
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: James Rosen
Sound Company: Wave
Post Production Company: The Mill

Think! - Don’t Drink and Drive 50th Anniversary

This one’s definitely no schmaltzy nonsense, but’s still emotional. Christmas is all about tradition. Sadly, road accidents caused by drink driving are one seasonal custom that we’ve found hard to shake off, proven by the fact that the government have needed PSAs like this for 50 years. The idea here is actually very smart. It manages to get across a message we’ve heard too many times in a compelling way, and reminds us that for the emergency services, it’s not necessarily the most wonderful time of the year.


High Five: November

November 11, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Style and theatricality were used to their full in this month’s best advertising.

We know everyone’s getting their baubles in a twist over the Christmas ads already, but we’re saving our festive spirit for now. There’s only so much to go around and it’s important to pace yourself. We’re easing ourselves into it with just one Christmas cracker this month, alongside a handful of other delights of advertising.

Brand: Google
Title: Through Glass
Production Companies: Academy / A+, Decon
Director: FKA twigs
Production Company Producers: Morgan Clement, Anton Mallie
Director of Photography: Jackson Hunt
Ad Agency:  Anomaly
Creative Director: FKA twigs
Creatives: John Downing, Matt Knapp
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Sarah Iben
Sound Company: Factory
Post Production Companies: Framestore, Finish

Google – FKA twigs

Brands have done music videos before, but usually they’re either irrelevant because the music is terrible or they’re little more than product placement in a popular artist’s next promo. This is a different approach – a commercial that splices bits of songs from Mercury prize nominee FKA twigs with a powerful and creative visual demonstration of the Google Glass product. Directed and performed by the artist herself, it feels like a true creative collaboration, and while the cuts between the two tracks are a little jarring, it’s undeniably cool.


Brand: H&M
Title: You Vs
Production Company: Good Egg
Director: Tell No One
Production Company Producer: Adam Smith
Director of Photography: Alex Barber
Ad Agency: H&M Red Room
Creative Director: Donald Schneider
Art Director: Sandberg & Timonen
Agency Producers: Anna Granditsky, Strange Cargo
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: James Rosen
Post Production Company: MPC

H&M – You Vs

We’ve all seen those long, languorous fashion films full of pouty models mincing around over-art-directed locations, usually with no decipherable message or story. This isn’t a million miles away – it’s still recognisably a fashion commercial for Alexander Wang’s collection at H&M and the people in it are definitely a little pouty, but there’s a dynamism here that this category rarely sees. While maintaining a sleek, health goth aesthetic, mysterious directing collective Tell No One have made a film with both guts and glamour.


Brand: Halfords
Title: Street Rider
Production Company: Somesuch
Director: Aoife McArdle
Production Company Producer: Dougal Meese
Director of Photography: Andre Chemetoff
Ad Agency: Mother London
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Dan Sherwen
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Robson
Post Production Company: Finish

Halfords – Street Rider

One of the first Christmas ads to hit our screens, this charmer from Halfords isn’t out to grab any headlines. It’s just a straightforward ad made with the utmost expertise at every level. Built on the pure idea that there are few childhood joys greater than riding a new bike down your street, everyone involved has proceeded to make a top-quality film. It’s fun, beautifully shot and edited, accompanied by a great track and its bright, frosty grade will help it to stand out from all the cosy warmth we’re going to be smothered in by Christmas Day.


Brand: Honda
Title: The Other Side
Production Company: Somesuch (and Digital Production Company: StinkDigital)
Director: Daniel Wolfe
Production Company Producer: Dougal Meese  
Director of Photography: Robbie Ryan
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative Directors: Scott Dungate, Graeme Douglas
Creatives: Scott Dungate, Graeme Douglas, Paul Knott, Tim Vance
Agency Producer: Lou Hake
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Tom Lindsey
Music Company: Wake the Town
Composer: Bobby Krlic
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Anthony Moore, Tom Joyce
Post Production Companies: The Mill, Framestore

Honda – The Other Side (Click for the full interactive film

This triumph of interactivity works so well because of its elegant simplicity. The idea is easy to get your head around – two opposing versions of a driving sequence, one of which shows whenever you hold the ‘R’ key – but the result is utterly compelling. A brilliant way to capture the contrasting spirits of their Civic range, the impression it ultimately leaves is of a film engineered to the highest quality.


Brand: Woolmark
Title: Lost & Found
Production Company: Neon
Directors: Tom Bridges, Roland Woolner
Production Company Producer:  Rebecca Vine
Directors of Photography: Paul O’Callagahan, Simon Hammond
Ad Agency: Neon
Creative Directors: Roland Woolner, Charlie Cassidy
Editing Company: Neon
Editor: Tom Bridges
Music Company: Box of Toys
Sound Company: Box of Toys
Post Production Company: Neon

Woolmark – Lost & Found

A brilliant example of the transformative nature of good filmmaking, the folks at Neon have made something as prosaic as a piece of wool into the star of its own textile odyssey. Close-ups and slow motion follow it on its journey from fleece to finished garment, turning the processes involved into epic clashes and trials, creating something faintly mythological. Considering hairs and fibres were once the nemesis of 3D animation, the mixed-medium approach here is very impressive, too.

High Five: October

October 6, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Some top-class advertising to restore your faith in the industry.

Good advertising deals in the new and the different. But some of our rundown of this month’s best advertising features some familiar ideas, proving that with the right approach and a good helping of flair, familiar ideas can still be powerful.

Brand: Channel 4 / Cancer Research UK
Title: It’s Payback Time
Production Company: Nexus Productions
Director: Smith & Foulkes
Production Company Producer: Tracey Cooper
Ad Agency: 4Creative
Creative Director: Chris Bovill
Art Director: Daniel Burgess
Creative: Pablo Gonzalez de la Pena
Agency Producer: Shananne Lane
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Paul Hardcastle
Music Company: SIREN
Music Producers: Sean Atherton, Siân Rogers
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Tom Joyce, Dan Beckwith, Anthony Moore

Channel 4 / Cancer Research UK – It’s Payback Time

Delivering a contagious apocalypse to city of cancerous cells is quite an odd idea for a commercial promoting an anti-cancer comedy fundraising event, but then neither Channel 4 or Cancer Research UK have been playing by the rules for quite some time with their advertising. It’s a strangely violent idea, focusing on anger more than the usual sympathy, but if you can’t hate cancer what can you hate? And of course Smith & Foulkes have brought this malignant civilisation to life in beautiful detail. It really gets you hyped up for some good-natured cancer bashing.


Brand: Leica
Title: 100
Production Company: Stink
Director: Jones+Tino
Production Company Producer: Victoria Martinez
Director of Photography: Bjorn Charpentier
Ad Agency: F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi
Creative Director: Fabio Fernandes, Eduardo Lima
Creatives: Bruno Oppido, Romero Cavalcanti, Thiago Carvalho
Agency Producer: Victor Alloza
Sound Company: Satélite Áudio
Sound Designers: Fernanda Costa, Marina Castilho
Post Production Company: Casablanca Effects

Leica – 100

It may seem slightly arrogant to claim that every iconic photograph recreated in this film was taken because of Leica, but despite its heavy-handedness, the voiceover makes a fair point. Released in 1913, the Leica was the first practical 35mm camera that used standard cinema 35mm film, allowing photographers vastly more mobility. But whatever you think of the message, you have to applaud the execution. Jones+Tino cleverly weave some of history’s most significant photographs together into an intriguing montage. You can even test your photographic knowledge for a bit of fun and see how many you can name.


Brand: Philips
Title: How Many Years Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb?
Production Company: UNIT9
Director: Martin Stirling
Production Company Producer: Dale Healy
Director of Photography: Carl Burke
Ad Agency: IRIS Worldwide
Creative Directors: Chris Baylis, Matt Hallet
Creatives: Pete Sanna, Matt Weston
Editing Company: UNIT9
Editor: Alex Burt

Philips – How Many Years Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb?

These compressed history concepts do wheel around pretty frequently, but that’s because they’re so useful for brands, allowing assert the idea that they fit into the bigger picture – that they’re playing the long game. This one is beautifully realised by Martin Stirling and the clever folks at UNIT9, seamlessly passing through a series of easily identifiable decades. It’s certainly a neat idea, expertly made. Whether colour-variable lighting like this will catch on is less certain, but it looks pretty cool.


Brand: RFU
Title: Team Talk
Production Company: Academy Films
Director: Peter Cattaneo
Production Company Producer: Juliette Harris
Director of Photography: Ben Fordesman
Ad Agency: BBH Sport
Creative Director: Ewan Paterson
Creatives: Lewis Mooney, Ed Cole
Agency Producer: Davud Karbassioun
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Scot Crane
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Post Production Company: The Mill

RFU – Team Talk

This commercial is actually a very simple idea, to the credit of its creators. But that doesn’t make it easy to pull off. It rests largely on one thing – the acting chops of Mr Charles Dance, currently best known as Machiavellian family man Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones. Armed with a great script, he’s managed to deliver his speech with just the right balance of gravitas and humour – a difficult mix to master. He’s definitely much easier to like here than his counterpart in Westeros.


Brand: Volkswagen
Title: Priorities
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Production Company Producer: Benji Howell
Director of Photography: Tim Maurice-Jones
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Director: Jeremy Craigen
Creatives: Nikki Lindman, Toby Brewer
Agency Producer: Panos Louca
Editing Company: Work Post
Editor: Neil Smith
Music Supervision: SIREN
Music Supervisors: Sean Atherton, Siân Rogers
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: MPC

Volkswagen – Priorities

This idea is pretty low-key too, focusing on the small sacrifices fathers make for their children. But of course they’ve got the right director for the job in James Rouse – a man who’s made a name for himself over the past year or so as the master of understated, empathetic comedy. There are no gags, just a series of familiar scenes, recreated in a way we can all recognise. Mr Everyman is well cast and does a great job at subtly conveying the little emotions we can all identify with.

High Five: September

September 11, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

The month’s best advertising in all its beautiful diversity.

Our favourite ads of this month are a proper pick ‘n’ mix. Some are from brands that hit the ball out the park every time; others are refreshing ideas from brands this industry doesn’t often celebrate. We’ve got mixed media techniques, celebrity endorsements and charitable initiatives. Advertising is a diverse and multi-headed beast.

Brand: Axe
Title: Monday; Wednesday
Production Company: Riff Raff
Director: Jonas & François
Production Company Producer: Jane Tredgett
Director of Photography: Alex Barber
Ad Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Creative Directors: Wesley Hawes, Gary McCreadie
Creatives: Charlene Chandrasekaran, Carl Broadhurst, Peter Reid, Dan Morris
Agency Producer: Chris Watling
Editing Company: Marshall Street Editors
Editors: Patric Ryan
Music Company: Big Sync Music
Sound Company: String and Tins
Sound Designer: Will Cohen
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Axe – Monday; Wednesday

BBH have been consistently turning out commercials for Axe for a while now and it looks like their streak is set to continue. Rather than focusing on the usual claims of sexual fortune, Axe is promising something altogether more general here. It’s about loving yourself before you can love others and seizing the day. Riff Raff’s music video wizards Jonas & François are a great choice to direct such a vibrant and energetic brace of commercials. They bring just the right amount of flair and just the right tone for the brand.


Brand: Coors Light
Title: Ice Bar
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Danny Kleinman
Production Company Producer: Johnnie Frankel
Ad Agency: VCCP
Creative Director: Jim Capp
Copywriter: Jermaine Hillman
Art Director: Paul Kocur
Agency Producer: Andy Leahy
Editing Company: Cut+Run
Editor: Julian Tranquille
Music Company: Wake the Town
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: Framestore

Coors Light – Ice Bar

Jean-Claude Van Damme has been the face of Coors Light since 2011 and it’s been a brilliant partnership for both him and the brand. There’s something genuinely funny about the campaign’s self-aware training-montage style, particularly when one suspects JCVD himself doesn’t quite get the joke. Now with Danny Kleinman bringing his talents to the helm, this partnership has reached its kitsch extreme, and it feels like a climax to the campaign. It’s hard to imagine The Muscles from Brussels coming back to the light beer ads, but if they can outdo this then we’ll be very impressed.


Brand: Direct Line
Title: Write Off
Production Company: Gorgeous
Director: Chris Palmer
Production Company Producer: Rupert Smythe & Alicia Richards
Ad Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Creative Director: Paul Silburn
Creatives: Paul Silburn, Gemma Phillips, Mark Slack
Agency Producers: Zoe Bell, Darapen Vonga-sa, Sam Rendle-Short
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Scott Crane
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Companies: The Mill, Nineteen Twenty

Direct Line – Write Off

Insurance ads are usually complete bastards. They get in your head with their annoying jingles, silly voices and smug voiceovers from moonlighting comic actors. Thanks the marketing gods then that the new Direct Line campaign features none of these (admittedly effective) gimmicks. Sure, it does borrow its idea from Pulp Fiction – one of the most beloved films of all time – but Hervey Keitel does such a good job reprising his role as Winston “The Wolf” Wolfe that we can’t be angry with this flagrant commandeering of movie culture. It’s too good to hate.


Brand: Kenco
Title: Coffee Vs Gangs
Production Company: RSA
Director: Johnny Hardstaff
Production Company Producer:  Annabel Ridley
Ad Agency: JWT London
Creative Director: Jaspar Shelbourne
Copywriter: Matt Leach
Art Director: Jess Oudot
Agency Producer: Carley Reynolds
Editing Company: The Whitehouse
Editor: John Smith
Music Company: Eclectic
Composers: Colin Smith, Simon Elms
Sound Company: Greeek Street Sudions
Sound Designer: Dan Weinberg
Post Production Company: Absolute / Blind Pig

Kenco – Coffee Vs Gangs

This film is to promote Kenco’s latest initiative, transforming the lives of Honduran youths likely to get involved in a life of gang violence by teaching them to farm coffee. And whether it’s a cynical move to seem like a responsible company or not (it probably is), it’s helping people, so that’s cool. Johnny Hardstaff’s film is more naturalistic than his usual highly-stylised approach, but he brings the slums to life here in a very immersive way. And with minimal voiceover and pushing of the brand, it makes the brand look quite classy.


Brand: Uncle Ben’s
Title: The Family Home of the Future
Production Company: Fat Lemon
Director: Chris Faith
Production Company Producer: Cabell Hopkins
Ad Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Creative Director: Mike Hannett
Copywriter: Liam Donnelly
Art Director: Phil Holbrook
Agency Producer: Richard Grisman

Uncle Ben’s – The Family Home of the Future

As if we didn’t all despise estate agents enough already, this one puts his clients through the infuriating process of showing them a house without a kitchen. The idea is to drum up interest for Ben’s Beginners – a new YouTube cooking channel created for Uncle Ben’s. It’s impressive to see brands as prosaic as the rice specialists providing genuinely useful content online and this is a clever way to promote it, although in today’s housing market a house without a kitchen is probably still unaffordable for most first-time buyers.

High Five: August

August 14, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

A handful of ads that prove brave is best.

The advertising industry talks about bravery and risk a lot these days. Without risk-taking, the argument goes, your good work will never be great. There’s a lot of truth in that, as our pick of this month’s best advertising demonstrates. None of these films would have been made if the clients, agencies and production companies had been afraid of doing something courageous and different.

Brand: Ikea

Title: Beds

Production Company: MJZ

Director: Juan Cabral

Production Company Producer: Stephen Johnson

Director of Photography: Eric Gautier

Ad Agency: Mother

Editing Company: Work

Editor: Neil Smith

Sound Company: 750mph

Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell

Post Production Company: MPC

Ikea - Beds

Appropriating Shakespeare to sell furniture is a ballsy move, riddled with risks. Not least the chance that it will just go over everyone’s heads. But it’s better to overestimate than patronise your audience, right? Anyway, the lofty rhetoric about the ephemeral nature of human experience is matched very nicely by the esoteric visuals brought together by Juan Cabral. It stands out, both visually and aurally. And in advertising, that’s one of the most vital battles won.


Brand: Imperial War Museum

Title: Flight of the Stories

Production Company: Aardman

Director: Darren Dubicki

Production Company Producer: Helen Argo

Ad Agency: Johnny Fearless

Art Director: Pia Knight

Copywriter: Paul Domenet

Agency Producer: Christian Lobo

Music Company: Soviet Science

Sound Company: GCRS

Sound Designer: Ben Leeves

Post Production Companies: Aardman, Big Buoy

Imperial War Museum – Flight of the Stories

Befitting of one of Britain’s most illustrious museums, this film has reserve, class and dignity. Considering the unprecedented horrors soldiers fighting in the trenches of the First World War faced, it’s powerful that the selected quotations are so optimistic. With an intriguing style of animation illustrating the metaphor, it’s a distinctive piece that sets off the idea quite poetically.


Brand: Johnnie Walker

Title: The Gentlemen’s Wager

Production Company: RSA Films

Director: Jake Scott

Production Company Producers: Jules Daly and Tracie Norfleet

Director of Photography: John Mathiesson, ASC

Ad Agency: Anomaly

Creatives: Mike Byrne, Dave Douglass

Agency Producer: Winslow Dennis

Editing Company: Peep Show

Editor: Andrea MacArthur

Music Company: Eclectic

Composers: Smith & Elms

Sound Company: Heard City

Sound Designer: Cory Melious

Post Production Company: The Mill

Johnnie Walker – The Gentleman’s Wager

Let’s be honest. Jude Law’s starring role makes this short film’s success a bit of a forgone conclusion. Once they had the name, they didn’t need to put much effort into making a film. Thankfully, RSA have bothered to make the effort though. And for a film about a man doing a dance, it’s pretty epic. With a clearly aspirational audience in mind, it might be a bit beguiling to most of us, (the way the 1% live…) but it’s a sumptuous piece of filmmaking and, importantly, it doesn’t feel like an ad.


Brand: Royal Marines

Title: They Come from the Sea

Production Company: RSA Films

Director: Johnny Hardstaff

Production Company Producer: Ben Link

Ad Agency: WCRS

Creative Director: Billy Faithfull

Creatives: Katy Hopkins, Steve Hawthorne

Agency Producer: Lizzie Mabbott

Editing Company: The Whitehouse

Editor: John Smith

Sound Company: Wave

Sound Designer: Joe Mount

Post Production Company: MPC

Royal Marines – They Come from the Sea

The best thing about this is the contrast to the optimistic, sometimes even patronising tone we see repeatedly in other armed forces’ recruitment ads. It doesn’t completely disguise the dark side of the military, making the Royal Marines seem more like a mythical band of ninjas rather than sanctimonious heroes of the free world, which is brave on the part of the client. The fear of their victim is tangible, and it’s down to the filmmaking talent of Johnny Hardstaff that makes it so nightmarish. Refreshingly sinister.


Brand: Three

Title: We’re Sorry

Production Company: Hungryman

Director: Ric Cantor

Production Company Producer: Jack Beardsley

Director of Photography: Mike George

Ad Agency: Wieden+Kennedy London

Creative Directors: Scott Dungate, Graeme Douglas

Art Director: Greg Kouts

Copywriter: Anthony Atkinson

Agency Producer: Michelle Brough

Editing Company: Ten Three

Editor: Billy Mead

Music Company: Finger Music

Sound Company: Finger Music

Sound Designer: Tom Joyce

Post Production Company: Time Based Arts

Three – We’re Sorry

Some of the best ad campaigns in history have turned a negative into a positive. It’s clever of Wieden+Kennedy to admit the downside of Three’s new feature, allowing its customers to use their UK allowance in 16 foreign counties. The fake apology is another familiar trope, but that shouldn’t take away from the brilliance of this campaign. It’s genuinely amusing and the point about the product is clearly made. Plus, it’s a message we can all get behind: stop holiday spam. Here, here.