High Five: July

July 3, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

This month’s best video advertising is a feel good hit for the summer.

Great advertising inspires people. And not just to part with their hard-earned cash (although it’s supposed to do this too). With the sun shining in through our open window, watching each of our favourite pieces of the month’s video advertising has left us with a feeling that maybe humanity and the world we live in isn’t so bad after all. So throw aside your cynicism, watch these prime examples of branded moving image, and feel inspired.

Brand: Avis
Title: Unlock
Production Company: Academy Films
Director: Marcus Söderlund
Production Company Producer: Medb Riordan
Ad Agency: VCCP
Creative Director: Jim Thornton
Art Director: Veryan Prigg
Copywriter: Kieran Knight
Agency Producer: Larissa Miola
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Music Company: Soho Music
Sound Company: GCRS
Sound Designer: Ben Leeves
Post Production Company: Finish

Avis – Unlock

A car rental company may seem like a fairly mundane client to some, but not for VCCP, who appear to have got whipped up in the excitement of adventure Avis offers its customers. That’s a good foundation and it’s enhanced brilliantly by the ambitious film craft in the execution. Perhaps propping up the reputation of Swedish directors, Marcus Söderlund brings a light touch of quirky humour to the ad too, which goes a long way to add a bit of humanity and warmth.

 

Brand: McDonald’s
Title: Hunter-Gatherer
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Production Company Producer: Tex Travi
Director of Photography: Alex Melman
Ad Agency: Leo Burnett
Creative Directors: Matt Lee, Pete Heyes
Art Director: Steve Robertson
Copywriter: Laurie Smith
Agency Producer: Graeme Light
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Art Jones
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Aaron Reynolds
Post Production Company: MPC

McDonald’s – Hunter-Gatherer

An ad of its time, this one. Agencies love to depict acts of human kindness these days, and if they get you all weepy with a commercial then they’re doing something right. It’ll definitely be too soppy for some, and others will view it with cynicism. But if, like our friend with the bump here, you’re feeling a bit vulnerable, this ad is here to tip you over the edge and give you a healthy dose of oxytocin – the drug of choice in this age of nice advertising. 

Brand: National Express
Title: Silver Lady
Production Company: HSI London
Director: Olly Williams (represented by Another Film Company)
Director of Photography: Sam Goldie
Ad Agency: Isobel
Creative Directors: Rob Fletcher, David Alexander
Agency Producer: Denise Robinson
Editing Company: Stitch
Editor: Leo King
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Phil Bolland

National Express – Silver Lady

Yes, it’s David Soul! That’s the man who played Hutch, right there, singing his 1977 smash hit Silver Lady. Not an obvious creative approach to a campaign for a coach company, but like Cadbury’s Gorilla and Honda’s Impossible Dream, it puts its faith in the awesome power of the feel-good musical track, ignoring any complex brand positioning strategy. It’s simply a good laugh. And it’ll probably give David a welcome boost in royalties too.

 

Brand: Nike
Title: The Last Game
Production Company: Passion
Director: Jon Saunders
Production Company Producer: Ryan Goodwin-Smith
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte, Ryan O’Rourke
Art Director: Ryan O’Rourke
Copywriter: Alberto Ponte
Agency Producer: Erika Madison
Editing Company: Joint Editorial
Editor: Peter Wiedensmith
Music Company: Walker
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell

Nike – The Last Game

For us, this has been the most classy brand move of the whole World Cup. Far from a simple TVC, it’s a five-minute online film designed to be spread by social media. And it has definitely spread. We’ve seen this kind of plot before, but in reminding us all why the unpredictability of football is so exciting, it’s a message that’s easy to buy into. It helps that the animation, courtesy of Passion and Jon Saunders is impeccable and the music is a great fit, too. This is branded content played at the highest level.

 

Brand: Stella Artois
Title: Hawk
Production Company: Indy8
Director: James W Griffiths
Production Company Producer: Charlie Stanfield
Executive Producer: Rupert Reynolds-MacLean
Director of Photography: Sam Care
Ad Agency: Mother London
Creative Directors: Hermeti Balarin, Ana Balarin
Creatives: Mariano Cassisi, Matias Corbelle
Agency Producers: Sophie Lloyd, James Turnham
Editing Company: Marshall Street Editors
Editor: Toby Conway Hughes
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Jon Clarke

Stella Artois – Hawk

Indy8 are still a relatively new company, but they’ve nailed branded content from day one and this series of films for the Belgian lager is a great example of how. The copywriting from Mother here has all the anthropomorphic wit you could ask for, characterising Rufus the hawk as a suave, serene protector of the skies, well within the realms of how Stella Artois wants to be perceived. With BAFTA-winning director James W Griffiths finding some impressive shots of the bird in flight, it’s a great piece of filmmaking too.

 

High Five: June

June 4, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

This month, the best advertising had a good sense of humour.

If you can make people laugh in a commercial, you’ve got some sort of chance of people talking about it out down the pub or around the office water cooler. That’s why some of the all-time classic ads – the ones normal, non-advertising folk actually like – have been funny ones. Unfortunately, this has led to a culture of people without the right comedy chops trying their best to make their ads funny and cocking it up.

None of our pick of the best ads this month try too hard to be funny, or announce their jokes to the world, but they all have a genuine sense of humour, so don’t have to shout about it.

Brand: Carlsberg
Title: Unbeatable
Production Company: Moxie Pictures
Director: Big Red Button
Production Company Producer: Claire Jones
Director of Photography: Denzil Armour-Brown
Ad Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Creative Director: Surrey Garland
Art Director: Stuart Farquhar
Copywriter: Rob Janowski
Agency Producer: Lyndsay Myerscough
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Ed Cheeseman
Sound Company: 750mph
Post Production Company: The Mill

Carlsberg – Unbeatable

World Cup commercials for beer brands don’t have a great pedigree. They tend to do little more than wheel out whatever celebrities are on payroll and crack some generic lad gags. To be fair, this does almost exactly that, but it’s written and executed with such flair that it transcends any clichés. All three celebrity faces are used thoughtfully and with well-timed visual gags littering the fantasy pub, it’s a good laugh for everyone.

 

Brand: Fentimans
Title: The Original Adult Soft Drink
Production Company: Short Films
Director: Fern Berresford
Production Company Producers: Holly Hartley, Sara Cummings
Director of Photography: Chris Sabogal
Ad Agency: Sell! Sell!
Agency Producer: Fiona Plumstead
Editing Company: Speade
Editor: James Rosen
Music Company: Pure Soho
Post Production Company: Rushes

Fentimans – The Original Adult Soft Drink

The most powerful thing about this ad is its unfamiliarity. From Mark Denton’s deft touch on the Edwardian production design to the stark lighting and jerky imagery, it doesn’t look like an ad at all. And in an industry where standing out is the primary objective, that’s not a bad thing at all. Director Fern Berresford does a great job camping it all up to the max and it all looks like jolly good (if not entirely clean) fun for all involved.

 

Brand: Halifax
Title: Photographer Vicky Harris
Production Company: Sonny London
Director: Guy Manwaring
Production Company Producer: Amy Appleton
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creatives: Matt Woolner, Steve Wioland
Agency Producer: Lucinda Ker
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Mark Edinoff
Sound Company: 750mph
Post Production Company: Finish

Halifax – Photographer Vicky Harris

This whole series of ads has been pitched nicely, exuding the sort of human warmth that dry financial service brands like Halifax desperately need. This is possibly the best execution yet though. Vicky is instantly likeable and with Guy Manwaring directing, each scene adds to the picture of someone who really cares about her work, or, to be really on message, someone who ‘gives extra.’ It’s not wildly ambitious, but it’s a solid piece that helps us warm to the bank that once brought us the unforgettable Howard Brown

 

Brand: Heineken
Title: The City
Production Company: Traktor
Director: Traktor
Production Company Producer: Rani Melendez
Director of Photography: Christopher Doyle
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam
Creative Directors: Thierry Albert, Faustin Claverie
Art Director: Mike Bond
Copywriter: Bern Hunter
Agency Producers: Tony Stearns, Ross Plummer
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Richard Orrick
Music Company: Sony Music Entertainment
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: MPC

Heineken – The City

This kind of ad gets made for beer brands all the time. Some smug, uncommonly handsome chap has the time of his life in a place we’ll never afford to visit and we’re supposed to think it’s charming and identify with him. Heineken have played their part in this terrible trend more than most, but their latest big sporting event commercial has a genuine charm to it, no doubt owing to the dream-team combination of Wieden + Kennedy and Traktor. It’s a big spectacular and with enough skill to do the ambitious script justice, it’s easy to enjoy.

 

Brand: Royal London
Title: Goode Times and Bad
Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Nathan Price
Production Company Producer: Tim Kerrison
Executive Producer: Stephen Brierley
Director of Photography: Jan Velicky
Service Company: Stillking
Service Company Producer: Michal Skop
Ad Agency: VCCP
Creative Director: Marcus Woolcott
Art Director: Jonny Parker
Copywriter: Chris Birch
Agency Producer: Ed Mueller
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Paul Hardcastle
Music Company: Soundtree
Sound Company: GCRS
Sound Designer: Ben Leeves
Post Production Company: MPC

Royal London – Goode Times and Bad

At its heart, this ad for Royal London is expressing some pretty conservative values, but the copywriting, art direction and is anything but staid and old-fashioned. Lead actor Gethin Alderman is a relative unknown, but he puts in an impressive performance, delivering the witty script with skill that could earn him a bright future. The visual comedy is pulled off nicely too, making the whole thing surprisingly entertaining for a pensions ad.

High Five: May

May 9, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Evidence that a good campaign beats a good commercial.

Sometimes the best ads are a one-off moment of magic, but often the best advertising relies on a cumulative effect, building a strong feeling around a brand over time.

We’ve seen some great advertising recently, but when we finally settled on our choices of the five best ads of the month we noticed that none of them were for particularly surprising Clients. We’ve seen great work from all these brands before and their quality is, at least in part, down to the ground work those campaigns have already put in.

Brand: AXE
Title: Soulmates
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks UK
Director: Tim Godsall
Production Company Producer: Rick Jarjoura
Director of Photography: Tim Hudson
Ad Agency: BBH
Creative Directors: Gary McCreadie, Easley Hawes
Creatives: Matt Fitch, Mark Lewis
Agency Producer: Chris Watling
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Rick Russell
Sound Company: GCRS
Sound design & mix: Raja Sehgal
with additional sound design / tracklay: Miles Kempton
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

AXE – Soulmates

Combining AXE’s reputation for lavish advertising with a familiar dream-team of a credits list, the stars were always aligned for this to end up a great piece of advertising. Set over several millennia of human history, the script was ambitious, but with huge scope for a visual feast. It’s an amusing ad, but Director Tim Godsall, best known for his comedy chops, seems to have toned down the funny factor here in favour of sheer epic beauty. And there's nothing wrong with that.

 

Brand: Bombay Sapphire
Title: Exit Log (part of The Imagination Series)
Production Company: Independent Films
Director: The Glue Society (Gary Freedman)
Production Company Producers: Tom Johnson, Jason Kemp
Director of Photography: Ray Coates
Ad Agency: Gravity Road
Editing Company: The Play Room
Editor: Adam Spivey
Sound Company: String and Tins
Post Production Company: The Mill

Bombay Sapphire – Exit Log (part of The Imagination Series)

Building on the storming success of last year’s competition, Bombay Sapphire have announced the winners of Year 2 of The Imagination Series – their short film competition where the public interpret a script written by Oscar-winner Geoffrey Fletcher. Exit Log is one of the five winning films, a sci-fi adaptation of the script by Chris Cornwell. Tense, intriguing and brilliantly art directed, it’s a great short film, but it was hard to choose the one best film from the diverse series. This is a branded content project that stands out from the majority, not least because the production and craft on all five films is exceptional.

 

Brand: Booking.com
Title: Brianless
Production Company: Traktor
Director: Traktor (UK representation: Partizan)
Production Company Producer: Rani Melendez
Director of Photography: Bojan Bazelli
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam
Creative Directors: Genevieve Hoey, Zach Watkins
Art Director: Kia Heinnen
Copywriter: Zoe Hawkins
Agency Producer: Elissa Singstock
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Edward Line
Music Companies: Menlo Park Music, ABOMB Music
Sound Company: GCRS
Sound design & mix: Raja Sehgal
Post Production Company: MPC

Booking.com – Brianless

This campaign has consistently churned out solid observational comedy, but this latest execution is one of the most joyful. The lead lady is brilliantly cast and she puts on an excellent performance as an ordinary woman taking life into her own hands, seizing the holiday of her dreams with both hands. Traktor bring their usual level of oddball comedy to the spot, taking some scenes just a little further than you’d expect and the result is triumphant.

 

Brand: Jaguar
Title: The Art of Villainy
Production Company: Rogue Films
Director: Mark Jenkinson
Production Company Producer: Tom Farley
Director of Photography: Alex Barber
Ad Agency: Spark 44
Creative Directors: Matt Page, Ryan Moore
Agency Producer: Nicole Southey
Editing Company: tenthree
Editor: Kevin Palmer
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Post Production Companies: Big Buoy, The Mill

Jaguar – The Art of Villainy

A sequel to the giant money-splurge of a Hollywood blockbuster that was their Super Bowl commercial, Jaguar are sticking with their mission of becoming the vehicle of choice for the classy British antihero. Director Mark Jenkinson does an admirable job following Tom Hooper’s film, drawing the perfect balance of refinement and malevolence from Tom Hiddleston. It’s a small but exciting slice of the big screen, and any car ad with idea more esoteric than a fast drive through some nice scenery is to be encouraged.

 

Brand: Lurpak
Title: Adventure Awaits
Production Company: Blink
Director: Dougal Wilson
Production Company Producers: Emma Wright, Chloe Roseman
Director of Photography: Stephen King Roach
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative Directors: Sam Heath, Dan Norris, Ray Shaughnessy
Creatives: Freddie Powell, Hollie Walker
Agency Producer:
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Post Production Company: MPC

Lurpak – Adventure Awaits

Big respect to Lurpak. For a humble kitchen brand, they’ve been incredibly ambitious with their advertising. Thanks to Wieden + Kennedy and the filmmaking talent they’ve selected, every execution in this campaign has been an absolute knock out. They’ve brought a cinematic, epic quality to an otherwise mundane product, and this latest ad directed by Dougal Wilson is the best yet. The shots are innovative and striking, capably setting off the excellent copywriting. Paired with a ballsy choice of music, it’s a powerful film.

High Five: April

April 9, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Keep your cross-platform strategizing. Good video ads like these do the job on any screen.

As we know, the advertising industry watches a lot of YouTube videos. But it’s important to remember we’re not the general public. For the most part, people still watch a lot of TV – an average of about four hours a day. And the brilliant thing about our five favourite ads this month is that they work on any screen. That’s good video content. They’ll make you look up from your tea-making if you’re in front of the telly and you’ll want to share a link to Twitter if you’re watching on your phone on the way to work.

Brand: Channel 4
Title: Grand National
Production Company: 4Creative
Director: Keith McCarthy
Production Company Producer: Tabby Harris
Director of Photography: Tat Radcliffe
Ad Agency: 4Creative
Creative Directors: John Allison, Chris Bovill
Editing Company: Stitch
Editor: Tim Hardy
Post Production Company: MPC

Channel 4 – Grand National

Here’s Channel 4 in their element, repackaging an unfashionable sporting event to pump it full of youth, excitement and punk rock. By going back to the origins of the steeplechase in 18th-century Ireland, they’ve unearthed exactly the right kind of story and told it with finesse. Keith McCarthy’s stylish direction squeezes every drop of testosterone out of it and with Brooklyn punks Cerebral Ballzy soundtracking the spot, it makes the race look almost worth setting aside any animal rights concerns for.

 

Brand: Cravendale
Title: Barry the Biscuit Boy
Production Company: Blinkink
Directors: Andrew Thomas Huang, Joseph Mann
Production Company Producer: Benjamin Lole
Director of Photography: Matt Day
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative Director: Sam Heath
Art Director: Ben Shaffery
Copywriter: Max Batten
Agency Producer:  Lou Hake
Editor: Simone Ghilardotti
Music Company: Tin Drum
Sound Company: Wave

Cravendale – Barry the Biscuit Boy

Kids called Barry in playgrounds across the country will now have to suffer this opening line. Like most things Wieden + Kennedy London put out these days, it’s heaps of fun. Pooling the talents of rising animation stars Andrew Thomas Huang and Joseph Mann to direct the live-action, stop-motion puppetry has paid off, ending in a film that delights and amuses. And with that screwball soundtrack/voiceover to set it off, this one’s sure to stick in your mind.

 

Brand: Save The Children
Title: Most Shocking Second a Day Video
Production Company: Unit9
Director: Martin Stirling
Production Company Producers: Elliott Tagg, Geoff Morgan, Irene Lobo
Director of Photography: Jacob Proud
Ad Agency: Don’t Panic London
Editor: Alex Burt
Sound Company: Factory
Post Production Company: Smoke & Mirrors

Save The Children – Most Shocking Second a Day Video

In an age where it only takes a matter of hours for an agency to spoof the latest viral video, it’s surprising that no brand (we can think of) has done one of these second a day videos yet. It’s fortunate this was harnessed for a worthy cause. Literally bringing the Syrian crisis home, it’s a harrowing piece of filmmaking. Let’s hope it does its job and saves lives.

 

Brand: Vodafone
Title: The Call
Production Company: Academy
Director: Marcus Söderlund
Production Company Producer: Medb Riordan
Director of Photography: Barry Ackroyd
Ad Agency: Grey London
Creative Directors: Vicki Maguire, Jonathan Marlow
Agency Producers: Ange Eleini, Joe Arojojoye
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Tom Lindsay
Music Company: Manners McDade
Sound Company: 750mph
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Company

Vodafone – The Call

This ad functions on the basis of the argument: “if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.” And with a solid fact to back it up, it seems like a good strategy. Everyone respects the emergency services, no matter their age, class or political standpoint, so the idea fits well with the broad audience Vodafone need to engage. Directed by a lesser helmsman than Marcus Söderlund, this script could easily have fallen flat, but of course it doesn’t. It’s executed with simplicity and flair.

 

Brand: Weetabix
Title: Egg
Production Company: Outsider
Director: Chris Balmond
Ad Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Creative Director: Dominic Goldman
Creatives: Gary McCreadie, Wes Hawes
Agency Producer: Glann Paton
Editing Company: Stitch
Editor: Leo King
Sound Company: 750mph

Weetabix - The Egg

This is a challenging product to advertise. A protein-laced liquid breakfast is an unconventional start to the day, but undeniably very convenient for some people. In a bold move by BBH, they’ve decided to face this oddness head-on in this series of ads, comparing it to other, less convenient odd breakfasts. With Chris Balmond directing and Peter Serafinowicz delivering the deadpan voiceover, it has a uniquely British tone to it. It’ll ring true with anyone who’s ever traded a good breakfast in for another press of their beloved snooze button.

High Five: March

March 10, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Taking a moment to celebrate the most exciting advertising of the past month.

The spark of greatness that can make a commercial shine can come from anywhere – it could be a new strategic insight, a well-observed comic truth, a perfectly crafted line of copy, a surprising camera angle, an unexpected cut... You get the idea. See if you can spot the source of that greatness in the films that made our list of the month’s five best bits of video advertising.

Brand: Colman’s
Title: Break-Up
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Pete Riski
Production Company Producer: Kelly Spacey
Director of Photography: 
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Mike Crowe, Rob Messeter
Art Director:  Laurent Simon
Copywriter: Aidan McClure
Editing Company: Cut + Run
Editor: Eve Ashwell
Sound Company: Clearcut Sound
Post Production Company: Coffee and TV

Colman’s – Break-Up

For a packet seasoning commercial, there’s quite a profound message here – that when communication through words is inadequate, something as fundamental to our lives as food on the table can have a deep emotional impact. We’ve all seen this kind of ad before, but for many dads and daughters this will tug the heartstrings just as it intended. Not only is it a moving bit of human interaction, the cinematography makes sure that pie looks spot on too.

 

Brand: Samsung
Title: What’s Your Problem? Sport Doesn’t Care
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Henry-Alex Rubin
Production Company Producer: Ramon Leakey
Director of Photography: David Devlin
Ad Agency: 72andSunny
Creative Director: Paulo Martins
Art Director: Wendy Richardson
Copywriter: Yann Corlay
Editing Company: Whitehouse
Editor: Russell Icke
Music Company: Madplanet
Post Production Company: Glassworks

Samsung - What’s Your Problem? Sport Doesn’t Care

This is a difficult one to get the tone right for. Take it too far and you’re left with a bunch athletes whinging. Not far enough and it loses all impact. It’s as epic as you’d expect from a Paralympic ad, with all the brutal action winter sports are so good at delivering and exactly as inspiring as it should be.

 

Brand: The Sunday Times
Title: Icons
Production Company: Academy Films
Director: Us
Production Company Producer: Juliette Harris
Director of Photography: Ben Fordesman
Ad Agency: Grey London
Creative Director: Dave Monk
Creatives: Jonathan Rands, Johan Leandersson
Agency Producer: Debbie Impett
Editor: David Stevens
Sound Company: String & Tins
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

The Sunday Times - Icons

An elegant idea, executed with class, directing duo Us are our tour guides through a sequence of iconic moments in art and culture. Shot in one take, weaving these images together into a coherent stream is a real feat of direction. It’s even got an interactive element – can you identify all the scenes?

 

Brand: Three
Title: Sing it Kitty
Production Company: Partizan
Director: Traktor
Production Company Producer: David Stewart
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy
Creative Directors: Ray Shaughnessy, Dan Norris
Creatives: Christ Lapham, Aaron McGurk
Agency Producer: Lou Hake
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Rick Russell
Sound Company: Wave
Post Production Company: MPC

Three – Sing it Kitty

At its core, there’s not a lot to this idea, but as the dancing pony proved last year, who needs a clever-cloggs idea when you can do something this fun? And with such gusto. As much as it might be derided by the snobs of the industry, coming up with something full of this much joy is not easy task, and realising the vision with such brilliance takes the deft hands of smile merchants Traktor to pull off.

Try the interactive version too. Stink Digital have outdone themselves with that little bundle of glee.

 

Brand: Volkswagen
Title: Parachute
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Production Company Producer: Benji Howell
Director of Photography: Alex Melman
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Director: Jeremy Craigen
Creatives: Rob Messeter, Mike Crowe
Agency Producer: Pamie Wikstrom
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Bill Smedley
Sound Company: Factory
Post Production Company: MPC

Volkswagen – Parachute

This is a ballsy strategic move for Volkswagen – pointing out the fact that their new hatchback costs more than its competitors. Turning that negative into a positive was smart, but what really makes this commercial (and the other two in the campaign) shine is the expert touch of James Rouse, wringing every ounce of comedy out of the script.

High Five: February

February 10, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

This month's best advertising has a certain poise and dignity to it.

While it’s mostly there to sell stuff, advertising isn’t an entirely cynical endeavour. At its best, it finds and explores truths about human nature, making you ponder the conundra of existence for a moment before you reach for your credit card for some impulse consumerism.

With that in mind, we hope our top five ads of the month will enrich your day somewhat. We think they’re pretty profound.

Brand: BBC
Title: Nature
Production Company: Stink
Director: Tomek Baginski
Production Company Producers: Sally Rigg, Edel Erickson
Director of Photography: Wojtek Zielinski
Ad Agency: RKCR/Y&R
Creative Director: Mark Roalfe
Art Director: Marta Krzeminski
Creatives: Liembi De Carvalho, Barnaby Blackburn, Gustavo Kopit
Editors: Marta Michno, Czarek Szuminski
Music Company: Songs of TRO
Sound Company: Factory
Post Production Company: Juice

BBC – Nature

At the root of this ad is an elegant idea: that athletes at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games are not only competing against one another, but against the very forces of nature. It's voiced by Charles Dance, AKA Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones, which is awesome. There's no way they didn't toy with the line: "Winter is coming" while writing this. Tomek Baginski’s execution captures the menace of nature powerfully, using a highly stylised mixture of CGI and live action to create a striking piece of film.

 

Brand: Guinness
Title: Sapeurs
Production Company: MJZ
Director: Nicolai Fuglsig
Production Company Producer: Suza Horvat
Director of Photography: Alwin Kuchler
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Director:
Art Director: Nadja Lossgott
Copywriter: Nicholas Hulley
Agency Producer: Sara Flood
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editors: Rick Russell, Russ Clapham
Music Company: Finger Music
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Post Production Company: The Mill

Guinness – Sapeurs

It has been a tradition of Guinness advertising, stretching back over its long history, to focus on an inspirational character rather than anything to do with the dark Irish drink itself. This follows in that proud tradition, capturing the vibrant culture of the sharp-dressing Congolese Sapeurs and striking just the right tone for the brand. It’s a well-crafted, visual feast of a pseudo-documentary, doing justice to the excellent research that unearthed these chaps for the campaign.

 

Brand: Jaguar
Title: Rendezvous
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Tom Hooper
Production Company Producer: Ben Crocker
Director of Photography: Daniel Landin
Ad Agency: Spark44
Creative Directors: Matt Page, Piggy Lines
Agency Producer: Michael De Vries
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Paul Watts
Sound Company: GCRS
Post Production Company: The Mill

Jaguar – Rendezvous

First airing during the orgy of marketing that is the Super Bowl, this commercial was a unique island of British nuance amidst a sea of rampant American brashness. Starring three of the finest English gentlemen to storm the screens of Hollywood in recent decades, the big-screen production values here must have set Jaguar back a bit. But who better to put that budget to good use than Tom Hooper? It’s enough to make even us cynical Brits mildly patriotic.

 

Brand: Land Rover
Title: Hibernot
Production Company: HLA
Director: Simon Ratigan
Production Company Producer: Tim Daukes
Director of Photography: Bob Pendar-Hughes
Ad Agency: RKCR/Y&R
Creative Directors: Julian Chalkley, Nick Simons
Creatives: Tim Brookes, Phil Forster, Barnaby Blackburn, Gustavo Kopit
Agency Producer: James Miller
Editing Company: The Play Room
Editor: Adam Spivey
Sound Company: 750mph
Post Production Companies: The Mill, Big Buoy

Land Rover – Hibernot

This commercial goes against almost every convention of a car ad. For a start, the car doesn’t feature, which is a pretty ballsy move. Secondly, there’s no voiceover, dialogue or story. There’s not even any copy for 50 seconds of the minute-long film – just a single backhanded compliment of a line. If the Jaguar ad is how Americans see the British, this is what Britons really aspire to – understatement, subtlety and sarcasm. Although it is slightly undermined by the hashtag at the end, it's a brave effort that should be applauded.

 

Brand: Axe/Lynx
Title: Call to Arms
Production Company: MJZ
Director: Rupert Sanders
Production Company Producer: Laurie Boccaccio
Director of Photography: Greg Fraser
Ad Agency: BBH
Creative Director: David Kolbusz
Creative: George Hackforth-Jones
Agency Producer: Ryan Chong
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Neil Smith
Sound Companies: String & Tins, GCRS
Post Production Company: The Mill

Lynx – Call to Arms

Ads don’t often justify the use of slogans from 1960s anti-war counterculture and, if they do, they’re usually not commercials for deodorant. Axe/Lynx’s new CND-esque direction is reminiscent of an unimaginative beauty queen wishing for "world peace", but when it leads to a film as sumptuous and entertaining as this, we’re willing to forgive that. They've come a long way since their old "makes fit birds want to shag you" idea and we should be grateful for that.

High Five: January

January 9, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

The best ads this month are have an “up and at ‘em” attitude.

Cynics beware: our pick of the month’s best advertising is a bit enthusiastic this time around. We have a fresh new 2014 ahead of us and these brands are keen that we seize the day and spend make a change this year. Watch them all. You’ll be pumped up and ready to rock. It’ll be weeks before the pessimism and general malaise sets back in.

Brand: Cancer Research UK
Title: One Day
Production Company: Stink
Director: Yann Demange
Production Company Producer: Molly Pope
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Art Director: Jim Hilson
Copywriter: Toby Allen
Agency Producers: Verity Elvin, Claire Toms
Editing Company: Marshall Street
Editor: Patrick Ryan
Sound Company: Factory
Post Production Company: The Mill

Cancer Research UK – One Day

You really have to admire Cancer Research UK for choosing an uplifting tone over a depressing one. While charity advertising is often driven by desperation for funds, this has a confidence to it. Yann Demange carefully weaves an intimate narrative with imagery of research. It’s clever – not too sentimental but not too cold either. And you have to love that no-nonsense voiceover, bravely taking the “give us your fucking money” tactic.

 

Brand: Innocent
Title: Chain of Good
Production Company: Hungry Man
Director: Max Joseph
Production Company Producer: Jack Beardsley
Ad Agency: 101
Creative Director: Richard Flintham
Creatives: Erik Hedman, Ryan Delehanty
Agency Producer: Rachel Bishop
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Anne Perri
Sound: Factory
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Innocent – Chain of Good

We’ve been keeping a keen eye on Max Joseph since he signed to Hungry Man last year and this exactly the sort of thing we were hoping he’d do next. Socially responsible without getting on its high horse, it’s a fun little adventure. It’s also well observed. Most of the time, we’re not looking to end poverty in our lunch hours. Like Mark, we just want a tasty smoothie and Innocent aren’t afraid to admit that.

 

Brand: The Sun
Title: Get Holiday Ready
Production Company: Moxie Pictures
Director: MJ Delaney
Production Company Producer: Dominic Delaney
Director of Photography: James Friend
Ad Agency: Grey
Creative Director: Dave Monk
Creative: Adam Chiappe
Agency Producer: Debbie Impett
Editing Company: Tenthree
Editor: Rebecca Luff
Sound Company: GCRS
Post Production Companies: Finish, Glassworks
 

The Sun – Get Holiday Ready

This commercial combines two strangely endearing features: middle aged men in budgie smugglers and the ‘80s stadium rock. And who are we to argue with those? Building on her reputation for thoroughly British comedy, MJ Delaney brings her A-game to this ad. Starting with a good script, she squeezes every drop of comedy out of it with good casting and performances, setting the bar for the number of visual gags you can fit into a minute.

 

Brand: Thomson
Title: Simon the Ogre
Production Company: Sonny London
Director: Fredrik Bond
Production Company Producer: Sara Cummins
Ad Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay
Creative Director: Gav McGrath
Art Director: Dan Bennett
Copywriter: Christopher Keatinge
Agency Producers: Gemma Fergie, James Bolton
Editing Company: Marshall Street
Sound Company: 750mph
Post Production Company: Realise

Thomson – Simon the Ogre

This idea is a bit silly, and many people will find it a little on the sugary side, but you can tell that everyone who worked on it is at the top of their game, making an excellent piece of film and, ultimately, pulling it off. It’s rare that a family brand like Thomson manages to put out something this original, but January is the Super Bowl for the package-holiday-ists, so they might as well go big now or not at all.

 

Brand: Virgin Active
Title: Don’t Just Live, Live Happily Ever Active
Production Company: Kream
Director: Sam Walker
Production Company Producer: Gwilym Gwilim
Director of Photography: Will Bex
Ad Agency: Karmarama
Creative Directors: Sam Walker, Joe De Souza
Creatives: Rachel Holding, Daniel Leppanen
Agency Producer: Emma Johnston
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Sound Company: GCRS
Post Production Company: The Mill

Virgin Active – Don’t Just Live, Live Happily Ever Active

An unconventional way to advertise a gym. But, then again, can you remember any truly great ads for health clubs? There’s no posturing Adonis here and no bouncing bellies either – this commercial isn’t flogging a pack of perfect abs or guilt-tripping you into working off that Christmas flab – it’s selling a feeling. It’s a bizarre piece of film made to be absorbed rather than dissected. So sit back prepare to feel on top of the world.

High Five: December

December 5, 2013 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

It’s baubles-to-the-wall festive antics for most of these brands.

You know that crazy whirlwind of excitement around advertising that America has around the Super Bowl? We reckon Britain is finally building its own version in the bleak midwinter. Christmas is not only the season for goodwill to all men, it’s now also the season of brands making you all emotional with the lovingly-crafted pieces of film that everyone in the business wants to be making.

Brand: Harvey Nichols
Title: Sorry, I Spent it on Myself
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Production Company Producer: Benjamin Howell
Director of Photography: Alex Melman
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creatives: Richard Brim, Daniel Fisher
Agency Producer: Victoria Keenan
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Bill Smedley
Music Company: Siren
Sound Company: Factory
Post Production Company: MPC

Harvey Nichols – Sorry, I Spent it on Myself

This idea isn’t in the spirit of Christmas, really. Call us old-fashioned, but we still think ‘tis the season for giving. That doesn’t stop this from being an absolutely bloody brilliant ad though. The perfect antidote to all the usual schmaltz, it confirms two things we already knew to be true – that James Rouse is the reigning king of the comedy commercial and that adam&eveDDB don’t half know how to do yuletide joy.

 

Brand: John Lewis
Title: The Bear & the Hare
Production Company: Blinkink
Director: Elliot Dear
Production Company Producers: Kev Harwood, Bart Yates, James Stevenson Bretton, Josephine Gallagher
Director of Photography: Toby Howell
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors:  Aidan McClure, Laurent Simon
Agency Producer: Anthony Falco
Editing Company: Speade
Editor: Sam Sneade
Sound Company: Factory
Post Production Company: MPC

John Lewis – The Bear & the Hare

If the John Lewis Christmas ad failed to make it into this list, we’d be asking some serious questions. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint. You’ve almost certainly heard enough commentary on this Disney-esque fable. It even made it onto Newsnight. Of course, the craft is beautiful. People love that it’s hand-animated, even if they don’t know it; it gives the film a nostalgic flavour that works so well this time of year. It’s sure to warm hearts in living rooms across the country.

 

Brand: mothers2mothers
Title: A World Apart
Production Company: Academy Films
Director: Martin De Thurah
Production Company Producer: Dom Thomas
Director of Photography: Lasse Frank
Ad Agency: BBH
Creative Director: Sir John Hegarty
Creatives: Shelley Smoler, Raphael Basckin
Agency Producer: Michelle Kendrick
Editing Company: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Mikkel E. G. Nielsen
Sound Company: GCRS
Post Production Company: The Mill

mothers2mothers – A World Apart

OK, this one’s a bit of a downer for the Christmas party season, but we won’t apologise for going all Bob Geldof on you. The days of impoverished Africans with flies in their eyes are over for the charity ad and this is a brutally effective new approach. Transplanting the issue of access to HIV treatment into a familiar setting hits us like a brick. And rightly so because each day 700 children are still infected with HIV. 90% of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa, and most acquire HIV from their mothers.

Please donate if you can.

 

Brand: Sainsbury’s
Title: Christmas in a Day
Production Company: RSA Films
Director: Kevin MacDonald (represented by Rogue Films)
Production Company Producer: Debbie Garvey
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Tony Strong, Michael Durban
Art Director: Colin Jones
Copywriters: Phil Martin, Mike Hannett
Agency Producer: Suzy MacGregor
Editing Company: tenthree
Editor: Billy Mead
Sound Company: Wave
Post Production Company: The Lab

Sainsbury’s – Christmas in a Day

Here’s something new for a brand like Sainsbury’s. Following from Kevin MacDonald’s excellent feature documentary Life in a Day, Christmas in a Day was edited together from the home-video footage of normal people’s Christmases across the UK. It’s thoroughly British, capturing the frustrations and stresses of Christmas as well as the happiness. And, other than the titles at each end, there’s not a mention of the supermarket. The trailers work perfectly as warm, fuzzy Christmas ads, but there’s much more – a quality piece of long-form content that you can watch online for free.

 

Brand: Tesco
Title: A Family Christmas
Production Company: Tomboy Films
Director: John Crowley
Production Company Producer: Barnaby Spurrier
Director of Photography: Rob Hardy
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy
Creative Directors: Ray Shaughnessy, Dan Norris
Art Director: Dagmar Hoogland
Copywriter: Sophie Bodoh
Agency Producer: James Guy
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Struan Clay
Sound Company: Wave
Post Production Company: MPC

Tesco – A Family Christmas

The guys at Wieden + Kennedy realised that when it comes to Christmas simple is best. So no clever-clogs idea for Tesco – just one family’s Christmas through the years in home videos, artificially aged in post. It will certainly stand out from the rest of the ad break. It has to be said that it’s a pretty similar idea to Sainsbury’s. But they both have their merits. As a commercial, this one brings a lot more film craft.