High Five: January

January 19, 2017 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Some gentle suggestions for how to spend your hard-earned money.

We all need a bit of positivity to kick off the New Year. Thankfully advertisers are here to suggest some resolutions for those of us too complacent to commit to any. Advertisers are nice like that. Although if you listen to all of their recommendations you’ll likely end up broke and unhappy before the spring comes. Anyway, here are the most convincing arguments being put forward – in our humble opinion, the best commercials of the month.

Brand: Bupa
Title: For Owning the Dancefloor
Production Company: Academy
Director: Martin de Thurah
Production Company Producer: Cathy Green
Executive Producer: Simon Cooper
Director of Photography: Niels Thastum
Client team: Angelique Waker (Senior Brand and Planning Manager), Cheryl Rosenthal (Brand Communications Manager), Shannon Faley-Martin (Brand Communications Executive)
Ad Agency: WCRS
Creative Director: Joe Miller
Creatives: Dan Gorlov, Richard Glendenning
Account Handling: Chris Boyton, Chris Moger, Charlie Warner
Planning: Matt Willifer, Hayley Pardoe
Agency Producer: Stefanie Forbes
Production Assistant: Camilla Hempleman-Adams
Editing Company: Little Machine
Editor: Peter Brandt
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designer: Aaron Reynolds
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective
Media Agency: MEC

Bupa – For Owning the Dancefloor

The power of understatement. One shot, one emotional performance, one great piece of music and one line of copy. Nothing more is needed to convey the moving story of one woman’s triumph over cancer, with a little help from private healthcare. Good for her. Anything that takes the pressure off the stretched-too-thin NHS is welcome. Hopefully it means someone who can’t afford to go private will enjoy the same feeling too.


Brand: Center Parcs
Title: Forest is Your Playground
Production Company: Partizan
Director: Eric Lynne
Production Company Producers: James Youngs, Jennifer Beckett
Director of Photography: Arnaud Potier
Ad Agency: Brothers and Sisters
Creative Director: Andy Fowler
Creatives: Robbie Ferrara, Andy Drugan
Agency Producer: Phoebe Rixon
Editor: Walter Mauriot
Music Company: Soundtree
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Center Parcs – Forest is Your Playground

There’s something very impressive about that “great forest whale” smashing into the leaf monster, especially if you’re watching this on a proper TV or cinema screen with a good sound system, as opposed to over your Boots meal deal at your desk. With CGI bringing their make-believe visions to life on screen, it’s easy to see how a break in the forest can stimulate kids’ imaginations.


Brand: Reed
Title: Commute
Production Company: Weilands
Director: Paul Weiland
Production Company Producer: Rachael Donson
Director of Photography: Magni Agustsson
Ad Agency: Contagious
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Struan Clay
Post Production Company: The Mill

Reed – Commute

The whole “you don’t hate Monday; you hate your job” line has been used a fair bit by recruitment companies, but then there is a lot of truth to it. This whole ad is pretty familiar, actually, but it’s just done really well. The script is tight, the casting and performances are great and the gags are genuinely funny. Not a Grand Prix winner, but a solid piece of work.


Brand: Thinkbox
Title: The Broadcast
Production Company: Blink Productions
Director: The Bobbsey Twins From Homicide
Production Company Producer: Ewen Brown
Director of Photography: Alex Barber
Ad Agency: Red Brick Road
Creative Directors: Matt Davis, Richard Megson
Creative: Dean Webb
Agency Producer: Charles Crisp
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Ed Cheesman
Music Company: Leland Music
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: Big Buoy

Thinkbox – The Broadcast

This is a really nicely made mini-blockbuster. The Bobbsey Twins From Homicide have absolutely nailed the alien invasion movie aesthetic, down to the last newspaper cutting on the conspiracy theorist’s wall. It drives home the dominance of TV advertising effectively and even throws in a bonus lesson – if your product doesn’t deliver on its promise, all your marketing is wasted.


Brand: Thomson
Title: Moments
Production Company: Outsider
Director: Scott Lyon
Production Company Producer: Zeno Campbell-Salmon
Director of Photography: Will Dex
Ad Agency: RKCR/Y&R
Creative Director: Mark Roalfe
Creatives: Nicola Wood, Andy Forrest
Agency Producers: Lara Parker, Fiona Renfrew, Kate Manning, Kevin May
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Julia Knight
Music Company: Native
Sound Company: Mark Hellaby
Sound Designer: 750mph
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Thomson – Moments

January is like a mini Christmas or Super Bowl for the travel industry. Every year the package holiday floggers and the comparison sites take to the ad breaks with promises of a momentary escape from our miserable lives of wage slavery in this grey, damp little country. This year the most effective offering comes from Thomson in the form of this poetic piece of filmmaking about the memories your create on holiday. With some clever camera trickery backing up a clear idea, Thomson have won the battle of the January travel ads.

High Ten: 2016’s Best Christmas Ads

December 5, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Watch this lot and feel the seasonal spirit fill you up.

Traditions are so quickly established these days. This whole Christmas commercial phenomenon wasn’t a thing ten years ago. Now it’s a rabid frenzy of consumerist propaganda. Two years ago we were just doing a regular monthly High Five in December, but last year we decided there was just too much good stuff to fit in and now that’s an annual event. Have a watch and see if you agree with our top ten. And if you want to hear more on the subject tomorrow, register for FOCUS for free and come to hear our panel of expert Christmas commercial makers talk about it. 

Brand: Aldi
Title:  Kevin the Carrot
Production Companies: Psyop, Stink
Directors: Todd Mueller, Kylie Matulick
Production Company Producer: Alicia Farren
Director of Photography: Richard Mott
Ad Agency: McCann Manchester
Creative Directors: Dave Price, Neil Lancaster, Rob Doubal
Creatives: Clive Davis, Andy Fenton, Dean Webb
Agency Producer: Lucy Moore
Editing Company:  Marshall Street Editors
Editor: John Mayes

Aldi – Kevin the Carrot

Who’d have imagined a carrot could be so adorable? Christmas is a time for all sorts of anthropomorphic heartstring tugging and sometimes it can be a bit of a stretch, but the quality of Psyop’s animation here really does the trick. We’ve all seen Night Before Christmas ideas like this before, rhyming couplets abounding, but this one is just so sweet and the little comic touches are so spot-on that it doesn’t matter.


Brand: Amazon
Title: Vicar and Imam
Production Company: HLA
Director: Simon Ratigan
Production Company Producer: Mike Wells
Director of Photography: Ian Murray
Ad Agency: Joint
Creatives: Steve Williams, Adrian Lim
Agency Producer: Claudio Gorini
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Bruce Townsend
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Jon Clarke, Phil Bolland
Post Production Company: The Mill

Amazon – Vicar and Imam

After a year in which humanity has demonstrated itself to be more divided than we thought, it’s heartening to think that huge, transnational megacorporations like Amazon want us all to put our differences aside and focus on the things that unite us – in this case, the inevitable descent into decrepitude and pain that comes with age. Cynicism aside, it’s great to see a Muslim character depicted in such a loving way and in such a sweet story. With hate crimes on the rise, brands with marketing budgets as big as Amazon’s can make a difference in the direction of acceptance and unity.


Brand: Apple
Title: Frankie’s Holiday
Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Lance Acord
Ad Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab

Apple – Frankie’s Holiday

In wake of Brexit and Trump, Apple seem to be feeling just as unsettled by the world as Amazon are. Their message of festive togetherness and acceptance is the same, but put across in a completely different way. This one’s trying its hardest to make you cry. At two minutes, the pacing is just slow enough to squeeze emotion out of each moment.The timing is powerful. It’s a heartwarming little film and the product’s role in it is just about acceptable.


Brand: Burberry
Title: The Tale of Thomas Burberry
Production Company: Black Label Productions
Director: Asif Kapadia
Production Company Producer: Jules Fennell
Director of Photography: Dion Beebe
Creative Director: Christopher Bailey
Editing Company: Intermission
Editor: Johnny Rayner
Music Company: Pusher
Post Production Company: The Mill

Burberry – The Tale of Thomas Burberry

There’s nothing explicitly Christmassy about this film, but it somehow fits in with the general seasonal vibe so we’ve included it here. It’s stunning. No surprises there, considering the ridiculous cast and star director Asif Kapadia. Making a film that feels like the trailer for an epic period drama is an ambitious idea and it could have ended up a naff waste of money. Obviously it didn’t. It’s amazing.


Brand: Heathrow
Title: Coming Home for Christmas
Production Company: Outsider
Director: Dom&Nic
Production Company Producer: John Madsen
Director of Photography: Alex Barber
Ad Agency: Havas
Creative Director: Ben Mooge
Creatives: Daniel Bolton, Barnaby Packham
Agency Producer: Kiri Carch
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Ed Cheesman
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: The Mill

Heathrow – Coming Home for Christmas

Another weepy one, anyone? Well, you’ve got to have a few otherwise it wouldn’t feel like Christmas. Anyway, it’s happy tears this time round. True to form, Dom&Nic have told a very sweet story here, full of little moments that we can all recognise. And there’s something very festive about airports, even if they’re usually just soulless corporate landing pads. It probably has something to do with Love, Actually.


Brand: H&M
Title: Come Together
Production Companies: The Directors Bureau, Riff Raff
Director: Wes Anderson
Production Company Producer: Julie Sawyer
Director of Photography: Bruno Delbonnel
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Till Diestel, Tim Vance, Paul Knott
Agency Producer: Lucie Georgeson
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Music Supervisors: Randall Poster, Abi Leland
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: The Mill

H&M – Come Together

Practically everyone is advertising is a Wes Anderson fan. So getting to see a little festive slice of Wes-land two years since his last film is a Christmas present in itself. Props to H&M. They’ve obviously spent a lot of money on this film in order to associate themselves with the aura of cool the director has around him. There’s not much in the way of plot, but it’s just so warm and Christmassy and stylish and quirky and exactly like a scene from a Wes Anderson Christmas movie. We’re so glad it exists.


Brand: John Lewis
Title: Buster the Boxer
Production Company: Blink
Director: Dougal Wilson
Production Company Producer: Nick Goldsmith
Director of Photography: Joost Van Gelder
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Richard Brim, Ben Tollett
Creatives: Ben Stilitz, Colin Booth
Agency Producer: Panos Louca
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Rick Russell
Music Company: Leland Music
Music Supervisors: Abi Leland, Ed Bailie
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: MPC

John Lewis – Buster the Boxer

Several years on from the first big John Lewis Yuletide extravaganza, the department store are still the most anticipated player in the Christmas commercial game. Expectations were high, adam&eveDDB suggested that they’d be eschewing the ‘sadvertising’ approach this year and they delivered with a film that walks the delicate line between moving and silly. It’s warm, relatable and funny and doesn’t lay any heavy moral message on us at the end, which is refreshing.


Brand: Marks & Spencer
Title: Christmas With Love
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Tom Hooper
Production Company Producer: Molly Pope
Director of Photography: Justin Brown
Ad Agency: RKCR/Y&R
Creative Directors: Jon Burley, Danielle Sandler
Creatives: Alice Burton, Psembi Kinstan
Agency Producer: Danielle Sandler
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Paul Watts
Music Company: Native
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Parv Thind
Post Production Company: The Mill

Marks & Spencer – Christmas With Love

The strategy here seems to be to make the most Christmassy film ever. They’ve just thrown it all in there: reindeer, snow, cosy fireplaces, Santa Claus, helicopters... It’s impossible to resist the festive spirit. Focusing on the great woman behind Father Christmas was a brilliant choice too. It’s about time she got the respect she deserves. With Tom Hooper directing the whole thing feels classy and cinematic, a real treat for those snuggled up in front of the TV this winter.


Brand: McDonald’s
Title: Juliette the Doll
Production Company: Independent
Director: Gary Freedman
Production Company Producer: Jason Kemp
Director of Photography: Jan Velicky
Ad Agency: Leo Burnett
Creative Directors: Pete Heyes, Matt Lee
Creatives: Phillip Meyler, Darren Keff
Agency Producer: Lou Pegg
Editing Company: The Play Room
Editor: Adam Spivey
Music Company: Woodwork Music
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Robson
Post Production Company: MPC

McDonald’s – Juliette the Doll

McDonald’s doesn’t have a big claim on Christmas tradition. Department stores and supermarkets have genuinely important roles to play in putting together a good Christmas, but burgers and fries are very much optional extras. This film cleverly makes McDonald’s feel like a naturally festive place though, by tapping up the sense of togetherness the brand has – it’s a place where people of all classes, creeds and backgrounds come together to eat in warmth and convenience. Throw in a heartwarming story about a neglected toy and you’ve got a festive joy for all the family.


Brand: Waitrose
Title: Coming Home
Production Company: Rogue Films
Director: Sam Brown
Production Company Producer: James Howland
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Ben Tollett, Richard Brim
Creatives: John Long, Matt Gay
Agency Producer: Jack Bayley
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Paul Hardcastle
Music Company: Leland Music
Music Supervisors: Abi Leland, Ed Bailie
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Jon Clarke, Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: The Mill

Waitrose – Coming Home

This film feels exactly like a Christmas card bought from Waitrose. Classy, wholesome and refined, it’s so incredibly on brand. On the anthropomorphic scale, birds are a hard one to get right. They aren’t the most emotional of animals, but Sam Brown’s deft storytelling touch, combined with the expert virtual animal creation skills of The Mill, has managed to make us feel something about this little robin as he makes his perilous journey home.


High Five: October

October 11, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Autumn’s a good season for creative stuff and advertising is no exception.

With the nights drawing in and the central heating coming on, the TV is definitely getting better at this time of year. And we’re tempted to venture that the quality of advertising goes along with that trend, whether it’s on our TVs or shared on social media. Here’s some evidence to prove that theory - our pick of the month's best ads.

Brand: Lurpak
Title: Game On, Cooks
Production Company: Somesuch
Director: Daniel Wolfe
Production Company Producer: Sam Chitty
Director of Photography: Tom Townend
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy
Creative Directors: Freddie Powell, Hollie Walker
Creatives: Becca Pottinger, Sam McCluskey
Agency Producer: Genevieve Sheppard
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Tom Lindsay
Music Company: Leland Music
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Companies: Time Based Arts, Framestore

Lurpak – Game On, Cooks

The key to the success of this ad is how well it’s keyed in to foodie culture in 2016. Everyone seems to be talking about food, listening to podcasts about it and, of course, taking pictures of it, but to be a true foodie you have to get your apron on and make a mess. The latest in a series of spot-on Lurpak ads, Daniel Wolfe makes sure this latest execution gets down and dirty, making the food look tasty without reverting the manicured, M&S food porn standard.


Brand: Maltesers
Title: New Boyfriend
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Clay Weiner
Production Company Producer: Toby Courlander
Director of Photography: Daniel Bronks
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Mike Hannett, Dave Buchanan
Agency Producers: Lizzie Abbott, Frankie Burwell-Wright
Editing Company: Speade
Editor: Gareth McEwen
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Ben Gulvin
Post Production Company: The Mill

Maltesers – New Boyfriend

Thanks to the surprisingly blue joke at its core, this is the most memorable execution from the series that won Channel 4’s ‘Superhumans Wanted’ competition – a prize of £1m of commercial airtime awarded for the best creative idea with diversity at its heart. Featuring disabled protagonists in natural, normalising situations, it’s a strong step towards more diverse advertising. Clay Weiner’s casting is spot-on and the performances are utterly believable. Anything less would have done this campaign a huge disservice. It remains to be seen whether brands will follow through by reflecting diversity in their advertising in coming campaigns though.


Brand: Three
Title: Maisie Williams vs Blackspots
Production Company: Fat Lemon
Director: Chris Faith
Production Company Producer: Josephine Gallagher
Ad Agency: Gravity Road
Creative Directors: Mark Eaves, Mark Boyd
Creatives: Shruti Veeramachineni, Rhodri Crooks, Peter Conolly, Philip Sinclair, Emma Penz
Agency Producer: Joanna Osborn
Editing Company: tenthree
Editor: Kevin Palmer

Three – Maisie Williams vs Blackspots

A textbook spoof ad. The people at Gravity Road have been paying close attention to the tropes and clichés of celebrity cosmetics and beauty advertising and with the help of woman-of-the-moment Maisie Williams they’ve absolutely nailed it, packing heaps of gags into a relatively short film. Director Chris Faith has been studying the genre closely too, and he’s got the look spot on. Exactly the irreverent tone we’ve got used to from Three and the sort of sharable stuff Gravity Road have built their name on.


Brand: Virgin Atlantic
Title: Get Out of Office
Production Company: Blink
Directors: The Bobbsey Twins From Homicide
Production Company Producer: Ash Lockmun
Director of Photography: Christopher Sabogal
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creatives: Simon Pearse, Emmanuel Saint M Leux
Agency Producer: Daniel Moorey
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Ben Harrex
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: The Mill

Virgin Atlantic – Get Out of Office

The Bobbsey Twins From Homicide aren’t the sort of directors you expect conventional commercials from. Their name pretty much says as much. And this certainly isn’t a typical airline ad. Deeply ironic and dreary, it’s a brave move for the client, who’ve signed off a piece of advertising that doesn’t show off any of the beautiful destinations Virgin Atlantic fly to, or even any of their luxurious planes. This most depressing depiction of office life possible only makes the fact that one in three people choose to spend their holiday allowance in this setting more shocking.


Brand: Yorkshire Building Society
Title: Outgrown Your Home
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Pete Riski
Production Company Producer: Tim Nunn
Director of Photography: Jean Noel Mustonen
Ad Agency: Red Brick Road
Creative Directors: Richard Megson, Matt Davis
Creatives: Baz Williamson, Ben Markey
Agency Producer: Rick Carter
Editing Company: The Assembly Rooms
Editor: Eve Ashwell
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Parv Thind
Post Production Company: Coffee & TV

Yorkshire Building Society – Outgrown Your Home

Financial services is not the most sexy category of advertising and this message isn’t the most fun either, but it’s a message that Yorkshire Building Society need to get across and everyone involved has done a fine job bringing it to life. It’s an elegant visual idea and director Pete Riski has realised it admirably. It’s not overwrought but it still gets the point across clearly.

High Five: August

August 8, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

The fruits of those juicy Olympic budgets in this month's best ads.

It’s an Olympic summer – an event that brings out all the sports brands and broadcasters looking to make the most out of the huge audiences it draws. It's not about branding and andvertising. The reason those audiences are there is because of the inspirational quality of the Games - the only truly global eventof its kind. But the poetry of sport is a great raw material for creativity, not to mention the budgets that clients are willing to part with.

Brand: Adidas
Title: Creating New Speed
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Christopher Riggert
Production Company Producer: Kathy Rhodes
Director of Photography: Simon Duggan
Ad Agency: 72andSunny
Creative Directors: Josh Fell, Chris Hutchinson
Creatives: Gerardo Ortiz, Roy Smiling, Kwaku Beke, Tyree Harris
Agency Producer: Liliana Vega
Editing Company: Cut+Run
Editor: Sam Ostrove
Post Production Company: Method Studios

Adidas – Creating New Speed

This was a ready-made cinematic idea, just waiting for someone like Christopher Riggert to turn into a stunning film for a brand like Adidas. Muck City is a unique phenomenon – a small area of south Florida that churns out a disproportionate number of fast American football players. Facing poverty and high unemployment, young men there chase rabbits through burning sugar cane fields to survive. The skills they learn are surprisingly transferrable, as it turns out. And make for some incredible visuals in the hands of a good director.


Brand: Channel 4
Title: We’re The Superhumans
Production Company: Blink Productions
Director: Dougal Wilson
Production Company Producer: Ewen Brown
Director of Photography: Daniel Landin
Ad Agency: 4Creative
Creative Director: Alice Tonge
Creatives: Richard Biggs, Jolyon White, Dougal Wilson
Agency Producer: Louise Oliver
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Music Company: Leland Music
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: MPC

Channel 4 – We’re The Superhumans

The London 2012 Paralympic Games felt like the first time excitement came close to that of its able-bodied counterpart and that is in no small part due to the commitment Channel 4 ploughed into the event, including Tom Tagholm’s inspirational trailer for the games. The bar was set high for Dougal Wilson to follow, but he’s risen to the task (of course), directing a piece of film that’s invigorating for the whole three minutes, reminding us of how much talent humans contain when they’re determined to release it.


Brand: Palace Skateboards
Title: Palace Skateboards X Reebok Classics
Production Company: MPC Creative
Directors: Lev Tanju, Stuart Bentley
Production Company Producers: Richard Skinner, Johnny Blick
Editing Company: MPC
Editor: Ben Crook
Sound Company: MPC
Sound Designer: Ben Crook
Post Production Company: MPC

Palace Skateboards – Palace Skateboards X Reebok Classics

For a company used to doing VFX on the slickest, high-budget commercials and movies in the world, MPC must have found it a real challenge to make something purposefully crap. But working with only Hollywood star Jonah Hill’s phoned-in ‘performance’ and some locked off shots of Palace’s Soho shop they’ve managed to strike just the right balance of rubbishness to make it funny. There are also a few visual gags dropped in so it bears rewatching. It must have been a lot of fun to make.


Brand: Samsung
Title: School of Rio - Cycling
Production Company:  Rattling Stick
Director: Gabe Turner
Production Company Producer: Stuart Bentham
Director of Photography: Fede Alfonzo
Ad Agency: BBH
Creative Director: Ewan Paterson
Creative: Jack Smedley
Agency Producer: Rachel Hough
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Mark Edinoff
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Phil Bolland
Post Production Company: The Mill

Samsung – School of Rio – Cycling

Sometimes comedy advertising is sort of funny, but not as funny as proper comedy. But when you get a comedian like Jack Whitehall on board and fully invested in a commercial, great things can happen. This is a fantastic script, allowing Jack to say all those things normal people think about Olympians. The whole series has been really funny, and it says a lot about British athletes that they’ve all been so willing to laugh at themselves.


Brand: Virgin Media
Title: 9.58
Production Company: Academy
Animation Company: The Line
Director: Seb Edwards
Animation Director: Wesley Louis
Production Company Producer: Dominic Thomas
Director of Photography: Alwin Kuchler
Ad Agency: BBH
Creative Director: Nick Gill
Agency Producers: Alen Grebovic, Victoria Keenan
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Tom Lindsay
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Virgin Media – 9.58

Usain Bolt will go down in history as one of sport’s greatest figures. Partially because he’s the fastest man who’s ever lived, but also because he’s a complete human being. This ad captures both of these things perfectly. In an age where top athletes grew up training too hard to develop personalities, he’s remarkably relatable. He’s a true icon, and this commercial reminds us all of why so many people love him.


High Five: July

July 8, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Proving that great advertising can come in all shapes and sizes.

It’s definitely the summer now and for advertising that means huge sporting events to capitalise on. This month’s best advertising made use of the big stars and extravagant productions that go with that, but that doesn’t diminish the power of the more unassuming commercials, relying on nothing more than a smart script and skilful filmmaking.

Brand: Lotto
Title: Please Not Them, James Blunt
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Jeff Low
Production Company Producer:  Kwok Yau
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Alex Grieve, Adrian Rossi
Creatives: Charlotte Adorjan, Michael Jones, Tim Riley
Agency Producer: Miles Nathan
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Saam Hodivala
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: The Mill

Lotto – Please Not Them, James Blunt

This whole campaign has been a delight. AMV BBDO have done a great job finding celebrities who are widely disliked and then convincing them to take the piss out of themselves. James Blunt has a good track record in that regard, so it’s no surprise that he’s as amusing as ever in this. And with Jeff Low squeezing every ounce of comedy out of the script, it’s another Lotto win.

Brand: Nike
Title: The Switch
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Ringan Ledwidge
Production Company Producer: Sally Humphries
Director of Photography: Matt Libatique
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Creative Directors: Chris Groom, Stuart Brown
Creatives: Dylan Lee, Pedro Izique
Agency Producers: Ross Plumber, Scott Kaplan
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Rich Orrick
Post Production Company: The Mill

Nike – The Switch

This is huge. A gigantic, expensive spectacle from some of the industry’s greatest talents, working with one of the most iconic sports stars in the world. It’s long, but completely justifies its runtime by telling a proper, engaging story. It’s probably the most story-driven ad Nike have ever done. And maybe it’s testament to Ringan Ledwidge’s performance directing skills, but Christiano seems to have developed some acting chops of late. And if 50 million views in under a month are anything to go by, it will do its job for the client.

Brand: The Prince’s Trust
Title: Parallel Lives
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Miles Jay
Director of Photography: Ben Stockley
Ad Agency: CHI&Partners
Creative Directors: Danny Hunt, Gavin Torrance
Agency Producers: Jack Harris, Hannah Greene
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Ben Jordan
Music Company: Leland Music
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designer: Aaron Reynolds
Post Production Company: MPC

The Prince’s Trust – Parallel Lives

Technically, this is a difficult script to pull off. There’s a delicate balance to be struck. To demonstrate the point that the Prince’s Trust can drastically improve young people’s lives, the left side has to be sweet and encouraging while the right side is upsetting and dark. But the mirror image visual concept demands that the two versions aren’t too drastically different. Miles Jay has proved himself a remarkable directing talent in getting the perfect tone. It’s a poetic piece of advertising for a deserving cause.


Brand: Stella Artois
Title: Never Heard of It
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Andreas Nilsson
Production Company Producer: Kwok Yau
Director of Photography: Thomas Hardmeier
Ad Agency: Mother
Creative Directors: Jonathan Santana, Xander Smith
Creatives: Matt Leach, Jess Oudot
Editing Company: Cut+Run
Editor: Ben Campbell
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Robson
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Stella Artois – Never Heard of It

It’s an encouraging message at the heart of this campaign: even the biggest institutions have humble, discouraging starts. It’s advertising persistence itself, really. And the quality of the filmmaking here makes that very clear. Considering he’s a Swede, director Andreas Nilsson does a great job at a very British kind of humour. The visual gags are on point and the costume and production design is sumptuous. It still seems a weird pairing, but if Stella Artois carry on advertising like this, maybe one day people will associate Wimbledon with a cold pint of Belgian lager as much as strawberries and cream.


Brand: Subway
Title: Favourites
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Michael Downing
Production Company Producer: Fran Thomson
Directors of Photography: Nanu Segal, Richard Mott
Ad Agency: McCann London
Creative Directors: Alexei Berwitz, Rob Webster, Jean-Laurent Py
Creatives: Matt Searle, Anthony-Daniel Montagne, Laurence Thomson
Agency Producer: Lois Newcombe
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Jono Griffith
Music Company: Sizzer Amsterdam
Sound Company: Jungle
Post Production Company: The Mill

Subway – Favourites

Yet another lesson in comedy filmmaking from Biscuit Filmworks as Michael Downing helms this ludicrous film in which a fully-grown man is paralysed by indecision in the face of sandwiches. It’s a well-observed insight. We’ve all been there. The tortured inner-monologue is reminiscent of Peep Show, which can only be a good thing. The casting is brilliant, too. Our hero’s nasal, middle-management accent perfectly compliments the heroic voiceover and his facial expressions are something quite remarkable.

High Five: June

June 9, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Powerful ideas and fun ideas, all made with the utmost craft.

The variety of tone in our pick of this month’s best video and TV advertising is quite impressive. From the highly polished to the stripped down and from the inspiring to the lighthearted. But all of them are prime examples of how great advertising can be when the best ideas are brought to life by the most talented craftspeople.

Brand: Bodyform
Title: Blood
Production Company: Stink
Director: Jones + Tino
Production Company Producer: Simon Eakhurst
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Toby Allen, Jim Hilson
Creatives: Caio Gianella, Diego Oliveira
Agency Producer: Edwina Dennison
Editing Company: Stitch
Editor: Leo King
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell

Bodyform – Blood

This is the ad every other feminine hygiene brand now wishes they’d done. For a few years the category has been moving away from blue liquid demonstrations and white-clad smiley dancers, but this campaign is taking on the “last taboo” for women in sport, talking directly about menstruation. And the film, directed by Jones + Tino, is ruthless. Riding a wave of uncompromising feminine power without the condescension that ‘femvertising’ has promoted in recent years, it’s the spiritual successor to This Girl Can. And it’s not just a cool ad. The campaign also follows a two-year partnership between Bodyform and two London universities researching the effects of the menstrual cycle on women’s health and exercise. Check out the results on the Red.Fit website. It’s interesting stuff.

Brand: Hostelworld
Title: In Da Hostel with 50 Cent
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Barry Bangs
Ad Agency: Lucky Generals
Editing Company: tenthree
Editor: Quin Williams
Sound Company: GCRS
Sound Designer: Munzie Thind
Post Production Company: Absolute Post

Hostelworld – In Da Hostel with 50 Cent

It wasn’t obvious what direction Lucky Generals would take Hostelworld’s advertising in next after they realised Alan Partridge’s best idea – Youth Hosteling with Chris Eubank. But somehow getting 50 Cent to present what is basically an episode of MTV Cribs from a Barcelona Hostel is the perfect sequel. We’re not sure why it works, but he’s a surprisingly lovable host and the mid-00s hip-hop video spoofing is bang on. He may have to take a few more jobs like this to improve his financial situation, but he could do a lot worse than ads like this.

Brand: KFC
Title: Roller Skater
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Sara Dunlop
Production Company Producer: Tim Nunn
Ad Agency: BBH
Creative Directors: Hamish Pinnell, Martha Riley
Agency Producer: Dana Rudelier
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Amanda James
Sound Company: String and Tins
Sound Designer: Alex Bingham
Post Production Company: The Mill

KFC – Roller Skater

This is a nice script, based on the simple insight that sometimes when that Friday feeling catches you, you’ve just got to grab yourself a bucket of fried chicken. There’s not much more to it than that, but there’s nothing wrong with that. In the very capable hands of director Sara Dunlop and with perfect musical accompaniment, that Friday feeling is brought to life in the most innocent, joyful way.

Brand: Lawn Tennis Association
Title: Go Hit It
Production Company: The Sweet Shop
Director: Mark Albiston
Production Company Producer:
Director of Photography: Jaime Feliu-Torres
Ad Agency: BBH
Creative Director: Ewan Paterson
Creatives: Kim Gill, Mareka Carter
Agency Producer: Victoria Baldacchino
Editing Company: tenthree
Editor: Billy Mead
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Anthony Moore, Dan Beckwith
Post Production Company: MPC

Lawn Tennis Association – Go Hit It

Juxtaposing the traditionally middle-class tone of professional tennis broadcasting with a sweaty match between two amateurs in a park is a great idea. There’s heaps of potential for visual comedy in it and Mark Albiston makes the most of this, even pulling off a genital injury gag with the utmost grace. The snippets of classic Wimbledon commentary are well chosen and full of a warm, reassuring Britishness. Overall, it’s a charming film and should convince more than a few people to dig out their rackets.

Brand: Save The Children
Title: Still the Most Shocking Second a Day
Production Company: Stink
Director: Tom Green
Production Company Producer: Paz Parasmand
Ad Agency: Don’t Panic
Creative Director: Richard Beer
Editing Company: Whitehouse Post
Editor: James Forbes-Robertson
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Jon Clarke

Save the Children – Still the Most Shocking Second a Day

This idea is exactly the same idea as Save the Children’s 2014 TV ad, but two years on, that’s the most powerful idea available to them. Following up on the girl we met last time is heart wrenching. Then she was going through horrors mirroring the Syrian Civil War; now she’s enduring the same horrors as the many child refugees created by the conflict. It illustrates clearly that for many, life has not improved in that time – a hard reality for those of us with comfortable lives to face up to. The concept of ‘bringing it home’ is a charity cliché, but this campaign is a masterclass in how to do it right.

High Five: May

May 9, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

It’s silly season for the month’s best advertising.

Some of the best ads in history are pure silliness. We all like a bit of levity to distract us from the drudgery of our daily lives, so it’s not surprising that silly sells. This month’s selection of the best advertising reminded us of how great immature nonsense can be. When done well, it can be a powerful asset to a brand.

Brand: Foster’s
Title: Dry Cleaner
Production Company: Independent
Director: Gary Freedman
Production Company Producer: Serena Paull (Revolver)
Director of Photography: Ryley Brown
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Director: Ben Priest
Creatives: Colin Booth, Ben Stilitz
Agency Producer: Louise Richardson
Editing Company: Playroom
Editor: Adam Spivey
Music Company: Madplanet
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designers: Aaron Reynolds, Dugal MacDiarmid
Post Production Company: The Mill

Foster’s – Dry Cleaner

Foster’s ads have always been a good laugh and this latest campaign delivers all the smiles we’d expect. Making the most of a seemingly mundane existence, the hero of this latest approach to the Aussie beer is instantly likeable. It seems lad humour is well and truly behind us now, to the point where mass-produced lager is advertised by a grown man playing dress-up. We’re not sure about the new strapline – it’s not exactly subtle, but we can sort of see how it ties in with this idea, so we’ll see where they take it.


Brand: The Green Party
Title: Grown Up Politics
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Neil Harris
Production Company Producer: Adam Evans
Director of Photography: Sveere Sørdal
Ad Agency: Creature London
Creative Director: Clarence Bradley
Creatives: Lydia Raghavan, Tori Fannon
Agency Producers: Madeline Smith, Amy Connery, Nicola Ridley
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Saam Hodivala
Post Production Company: Unit Media

The Green Party – Grown Up Politics

It’s been a relief to see the party political broadcast rulebook torn to pieces in recent years. The Green Party and Creature have made a big impact on the format in particular. Still a fairly marginal party, the Greens have the opportunity to cast themselves as anti-establishment, attacking practically every other politician. And this idea gave them so much room to manoeuvre, adding in a cute factor to sweeten the deal. The casting is amazing. Our personal favourite is little Jez, who is remarkably regognisable despite the lack of beard growth.


Brand: Just Eat
Title: Manband
Production Company: Outsider
Director: Jim Gilchrist
Production Company Producer: Tex Travi
Director of Photography: Tim Maurice-Jones
Ad Agency: Red Brick Road
Creative Directors: Matt Davis, Richard Meson
Creatives: The Red Brick Road
Agency Producer: Charles Crisp
Editing Company: Cut+Run
Editor: Ben Campbell
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designers: Aaron Reynolds, Tom Heddy
Post Production Company: Big Buoy

Just Eat – Manband

Just Eat’s takeaway pop songs have all been brilliant. Snobs be damned, they’re unashamedly populist – the sort of thing that won’t win in Cannes, but will be sung by people around the country when they decide order a cheeky takeaway on a Saturday night. Each has been a triumph of music licencing, but this latest Backstreet Boys reworking is probably the best of the lot. Jim Gilchrist has nailed the aesthetic too – a perfectly tacky throwback to the golden age of the boyband.

Brand: Moneysupermarket
Title: Epic Dance Off
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Noam Murro
Production Company Producer: Carr Donald
Director of Photography: Eric Schmidt
Ad Agency: Mother London
Editing Company: Marshall Street Editors
Editors: Tim Thornton-Allan, Matthew Pochettino
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Robson
Post Production Company: MPC

Moneysupermarket – Epic Dance Off

OK. On the one hand putting the three fabulous men from their previous campaigns in a car park for a dance off was a bit of a lazy idea. But on the other hand, who cares? Those ads were a lot of fun and people loved them. Dave, in particular, became a celebrity in his own right thanks to his extraordinary booty and ability to rock the hottest of pants. It comes as no surprise that director Noam Murro has squeezed everything he can out of the script, of course. He’s a bubbling font of joyfulness.

Brand: Prostate Cancer UK
Title: Man to Man
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Production Company Producer: Benji Howell
Director of Photography: Richard Mott
Ad Agency: BBH London
Creative Directors: Raphael Basckin, Shelley Smoler
Creatives: Sara Sutherland, Ash Hamilton
Agency Producer: Alen Grebovic
Editing Company: Work Post
Editor: Bill Smedley
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Jon Clarke, Tom Joyce
Post Production Company: Finish

 Prostate Cancer – Man to Man

This one is absolutely inspired. Turning a familiar situation on its head, BBH have morphed a traditional source of comedy into something delightfully awkward and new. It’s always refreshing to see a charity taking a light tone with their ads and of course James Rouse makes sure it’s believable and charming to without fault. Here’s hoping it will inspire kids around the country to give their dads similar talks and hopefully save some lives.

High Five: April

April 11, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Deep thinking and pretty pictures in this month’s best advertising.

It’s amazing how philosophical advertising is, considering it’s basically just trying to flog stuff people don’t want to people who can’t afford it. The best advertising, as evidenced in our pick of the past month, can draw on the deepest insights on human existence in order to get you reaching for your wallet. Quite remarkable, really.

Brand: Finish
Title: Heartbreak
Production Companies: CANADA London, Riff Raff
Director: CANADA
Production Company Producer: Cathy Hood
Director of Photography: Oscar Faura
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative Directors: Sophie Bodoh, Carlos Alija, Laura Sampedro
Agency Producer: Michelle Brough
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Dominic Leung
Music Company: Siren
Composer: Alex Baranowski
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Jon Clarke
Post Production Company: Time Based Arts

Finish – Heartbreak

According to Finish’s brutal reminder, there are only three certainties in life: death, taxes and dirty dishes. And the latter usually gets forgotten but is perhaps the most daunting. Snappy, hyper realistic and stylish, directors CANADA have brought their considerable talents to bear to make sure this ad drives the terror into our hearts that it should. Even at our lowest ebbs, the dishes will need doing. Thankfully, Finish Powerball tablets are here to save us, so we can get back to worrying about our broken hearts.


Brand: Guinness
Title: Alive Inside
Production Company: Nexus
Director: Kibwe Tavares
Production Company Producers: Jeremy Smith, Clare Van Zyl (Monkey Films)
Director of Photography: Jamie Ramsay
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Director: Mike Schalit
Creatives: Sonny Adorjan, Milo Campbell
Agency Producer: Greg Kates
Editing Company: The Whitehouse
Editor: Adam Marshall
Sound Company: GCRS
Post Production Company: The Mill

Guinness – Alive Inside

Less than two years on from winning at the Young Director Award and Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase in Cannes, Kibwe Tavares is directing Guinness ads. That’s a pretty good career trajectory. Anyone who's seen his short film Jonah will know he’s more than capable of this kind of film. It fits well with the vibrant, electric atmosphere the brand has been focusing on for years. It’s almost exhausting just to watch. But this time it’s more explicitly about Africa than ever. Since Nigeria overtook Ireland as the biggest market for the famous stout about five years ago, that makes sense.


Brand: Lloyds Bank
Title: For Your Next Step
Production Company: Rogue
Director: Sam Brown
Production Company Producer: Jess Wylie
Director of Photography: Alex Barber
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: James Gillham, Graham Cappi
Agency Producer: Victoria Bennett
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Pall Watts
Music Company: Platinum Rye
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Aaron Reynolds
Post Production Company: The Mill

Lloyds Bank – For Your Next Step

Sam Brown delivers another ad that’s polished to within an inch of its life. The idea of banks being there through the good times and the bad is a narrative we’re all familiar with, but there are couple of things that make this commercial stand out. The technical excellence on show here is one of them. How did they do that slow motion at two different speeds? The other thing is the bold move to depict a gay couple getting engaged. It shouldn’t be a bold move, but sadly it’s rare to see LGBT couples depicted in advertising full stop, let alone for a conservative, mainstream client like Lloyds Bank.


Brand: Persil
Title: Free the Kids
Production Company: RSA
Director: Toby Dye
Production Company Producer: Ben Porter
Ad Agency: MullenLowe London
Creative Director: Alex Okada
Creatives: Bruno Ribeiro, Luiz Filipin, Juan Chrismann, Jack Patrick
Agency Producer: Mays Al-Ali
Editor: Julian Equiguren
Music Company: Big Sync Music
Composer: Rupert Pope
Sound Company: GCRS
Sound Designer: Ben Leeves
Post Production Company: MPC

Persil – Free the Kids

This is extremely confident advertising. A cinematic mini-doc about American prison inmates speaking about their values and dreams, with no mention of the brand until the last three seconds? That takes balls for a big client to approve. But Persil are part of Unilever, a group of brands that are focusing on proving they have a greater purpose than simply turning a profit. Persil’s aim here is smart – get children to spend more time outdoors, getting their clothes dirty. It’s elegant, even if you’re cynical about their goals.


Brand: Stella Artois
Title: Be Legacy
Production Company: Riff Raff
Director: François Rousselet
Production Company Producer: Jane Tredget
Director of Photography: Martin Ruhe
Ad Agency: Mother
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: MPC

Stella Artois – Be Legacy

It’s amazing that Stella have never done an origin story ad before. What’s more amazing is that now they have got round to it with François Rousselet at the helm it looks like a bizarre cross between a Wes Anderson and a Baz Luhrmann film. It’s somewhat in the style of the brand’s recent output, but Sebastian Artois is decidedly less smarmy and a lot more hapless than the usual lager ad guy. That’s a good thing, making for a charming tone. Maybe this is the one to finally shake Stella’s “wife beater” nickname… Maybe!