High Five: January

January 14, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

This month’s best ads are designed to make you crack a smile.

When advertising makes you feel good, you associate those feelings with the advertised brand. That’s what they hope to do, anyway. Clients know this, and they’re desperately trying to drag you out of your January blues. These five are some of the most effective, in our opinion.

Brand: Center Parcs
Title: Bears
Production Company: Mustard
Director: Ben Liam Jones
Production Company Producer: Nick Papworth
Ad Agency: Brothers and Sisters
Executive Creative Director: Andy Fowler
Creatives: Ollie Wolf, Malcolm Duffy, Indy Selvarajah
Agency Producer: Jennifer Kennedy
Editor: Elena De Palma
Sound Company: GCRS
Sound Designer: Tom Pugh
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Center Parcs – Bears

This anthropomorphic triumph nails it on several fronts. The idea that, like bears, we feel more at home when immersed in nature fits perfectly with Center Parcs’ offering. The family are adorable and, thanks to the stellar CGI work of Electric Theatre Collective and the emotional awareness of director Ben Liam Jones, they’re a lovable bunch – quite an achievement considering they’d tear your throat out if you met them in real life. An undeniably warm and fuzzy film to get you booking an outdoorsy holiday.


Brand: Cillit Bang
Title: The Mechanic
Production Company: Partizan
Director: Michael Gracey
Production Company Producer: Khalid Tahhar
Director of Photography: Carl Nilsson
Ad Agency: BETC Paris
Creative Directors: Stephane Xiberras, Jaques Jolly
Creatives: Alexandre Saad, Marie Baillot, Guillaume Rebbot
Agency Producers: David Green, Emilie Cointot
Editing Company: Royalpost
Editor: Stuart Bowen
Sound Company: GUM

Cillit Bang – The Mechanic

Let’s be honest. We’re going to miss Barry Scott. His passion for this all-purpose cleaning product was an inspiration to us all for many years, the likes of which we may never again see on our televisions. But there’s something about this Flashdance homage that captures the satisfaction of having a really good cleaning session perfectly. It’s brilliantly choreographed, cleverly shot and fun to watch. It must have been quite a relief when they finally got all those moves in the can.


Brand: Nissan
Title: Hoybot
Production Company: Somesuch
Director: Bob Harlow
Production Company Producer: Dougal Meese
Director of Photography: Benoit Soler
Ad Agency: TBWA\
Creatives: Simon Morris, Dean Webb
Agency Producer: Fiona Campbell
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Thomas Carter
Music Company: Finger Music
Composer: Daniel Lenz
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Phil Bolland, Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: The Mill

Nissan – Hoybot

Of all the car manufacturers, Nissan’s reputation is one of the most high tech, so creating themselves a mascot that’s more machine than man was a neat fit. The style of the film is smart. It looks like a teaser trailer for the sort of sci-fi superhero movie we’re inundated with these days. There’s even a digital graphic novel to go with it. It’s light-hearted, different and an original way of using Sir Chris as an ambassador.


Brand: THINK!
Title: Doghouse
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Guy Shelmerdine
Production Company Producer: Jason Scanlon
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Martin Loraine, Steve Jones
Creatives: Adrian Rossi, Alex Grieve
Agency Producer: Mat Towell
Editing Company: Stitch
Editor: Tim Hardy
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: The Mill

THINK! – Doghouse

The road safety category has been repetitive for a long time, often relying on plain shock tactics. That only makes this clever approach even more refreshing. Bravely admitting that not drinking and driving can cause trouble, it pushes the point home that capitulating can potentially be much worse. It’s well cast, relatable and with a brilliantly British sense of humour it’s a film that does its life-saving role justice. It's a funny road safety infomercial. That's impressive.


Brand: Thomas Cook
Title: Pool Kid
Production Company: The Sweet Shop
Director: Mark Albiston
Production Company Producer: Kate Taylor
Director of Photography: Justin Brown
Ad Agency: Albion London
Creative Director: Debs Gerrard
Creative: Hugo Isaacs
Agency Producer: Petrina Kilby
Editing Company: Tenthree
Editor: Billy Mead
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: The Mill

Thomas Cook – Pool Kid

This idea comes from the same feel-good school of advertising as the Cadbury Gorilla. It’s a risky approach; it’s simplicity can often backfire, but when it’s done right it’s a powerful strategy. And this time they’ve got it spot on. From the choice of track to the casting of the kid to the moves themselves, it all comes together to bring the right positive vibes. It’s really quite hard to explain, but we’re sure it will make people smile (and potentially even book holidays).

High Ten: 2015’s Best Christmas Ads

December 9, 2015 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

We’re so full of festive cheer we're handing out twice the love this month.

Endless millions are splurged every year on British ads in the attempt to ‘win Christmas’ and it’s becoming more of an advertising extravaganza – the British equivalent of the Super Bowl – with every festive season. In fact, so much care and talent has been lavished upon brands this year that we’ve decided to get into the spirit of seasonal generosity and use both hands to congratulate the best ads of the month. Here’s our first Christmas High Ten, in alphabetical order.

Brand: Aldi
Title: Over The Moon
Production Company: Another Film Company
Director: Mark Denton
Production Company Producer: Sara Cummins
Director of Photography: Miguel Ragageles
Ad Agency: McCann Manchester
Creative Director: Neil Lancaster
Agency Producer: Melissa Bennett
Music Company: Polydor Records
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designer: Parv Thind
Post Production Company: Jam Films

Aldi – Over the Moon

The beauty of a simple idea like the one at the heart Aldi’s advertising is its flexibility. John Lewis’s Christmas ads have become such a rich vein for parodies in recent years and the people at McCann almost certainly knew they were going to spoof it before The Man on the Moon had aired. That said, it’s still impressive that they managed to get their witty retort made, signed off and aired in just a couple of weeks.


Brand: Currys PC World
Title: Jigsaw
Production Company: O Positive
Director: David Shane
Production Company Producer: Nell Jordan
Director of Photography: Tim Maurice-Jones
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Alex Grieve, Adrian Rossi
Creatives: Mike Sutherland, Antony Nelson
Agency Producer: Anita Sasdy
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Paul Watts
Music Company: Finger Music
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designer: Aaron Reynolds
Post Production Company: The Mill

Currys PC World - Jigsaw

This is the standout film from a very well executed campaign. Jeff Goldblum’s performance is spot on, the script is funny and the idea is built around an insight that’s obvious to everyone. Several campaigns have tapped into the idea of feigned delight when faced with uninspiring presents, but this one is so well done, and with a famous face to boot, that it’s sure to be the one to stick in people’s minds.


Brand: House of Fraser
Title: Your Rules
Production Company: Prettybird
Director: Ace Norton
Production Company Producers: Tom Knight, Jess Wylie
Ad Agency: 18 Feet & Rising
Creatives: Anna Carpen, Oli O’Neill
Agency Producer: Claire Ramasamy
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: James Rose
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: Nice Biscuits

House of Fraser – Your Rules

We all know what a big department store’s Christmas ad looks like (see below), and it most certainly isn’t this. Essentially a dance video, it’s shot in a studio with no attempts to recreate an authentic, cosy family setting and no tearjerker story to hit you in the feels, it works simply because it’s different, marking House of Fraser out as unlikely rebels of the department store category.


Brand: John Lewis
Title: Man on the Moon
Production Company: Somesuch
Director: Kim Gehrig
Production Company Producer: Lee Groombridge
Director of Photography: Andre Chemetoff
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Richard Brim, Ben Tollett
Creatives: Miles Carter, Sophie Knox
Agency Producer: Lucie Georgeson
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Tom Lindsay
Music Company: Leland Music
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: The Mill

John Lewis – Man on the Moon

The pressure of making the John Lewis Christmas ad must be unbearable for everyone involved. We’ve hyped it up so much that we have to applaud the people who made it just for managing to get something on air. Amazingly, they’ve also managed to live up to expectations this year, with a touching work of magical realism, bringing together some of the best talents from all disciplines of advertising to make fragile, shopping-exhausted parents weep into their mulled wine.


Brand: McDonald’s
Title: Journey to Christmas
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Production Company Producer: Benji Howell
Ad Agency: Leo Burnett
Creative Directors: Matt Lee, Pete Heyes
Creatives: Phillip Meyler, Darren Keff
Agency Producer: Lou Pegg
Editing Company: Work Post
Editor: Art Jones
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: MPC

McDonald’s – Journey to Christmas

This is a pretty typical Christmas ad, featuring an adorable family singing a festive hit we’ve heard so many times that we’ve gone through cycle of hating and then ironically loving and then hating again several times over. It’s nicely put together and with all of James Rouse’s trademark warmth, it’s sure to get people feeling festive, which is pretty impressive for a brand as un-Christmassy as McDonald’s.


Brand: Mulberry
Title: Miracle
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Production Company Producer: Benji Howell
Director of Photography: Alex Melman
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Director: Richard Brim
Creatives: Aidan McClure, Laurent Simon
Agency Producer: Panos Louca
Editing Company: Work Post
Editor: Bill Smedley
Music Company: Focus Music
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Anthony Moore, Neil Johnson
Post Production Company: Finish

Mulberry - Miracle

James Rouse strikes again in this wonderfully dry and absurd bit of comedy. Replacing the messiah with a £700 handbag was an interesting move, but ultimately makes for quite an appropriate parable for these consumerist times. It’s exactly the tone we now expect from the brand, whose low-budget offering last year was an unexpected and welcome gift.


Brand: Sainsbury’s
Title: Mog’s Christmas Calamity
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Production Company Producers: Benji Howell, Heather Kinal
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Michael Durban, Tony Strong
Agency Producers: Rebecca Scharf, Nikki Holbrow
Editing Company: Work Post
Editor: Bill Smedley
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore, Neil Johnson
Post Production Company: Framestore

Sainsbury’s – Mog’s Christmas Calamity

Completing James Rouse’s hat trick is this formidable festive romp from the defending champions of the supermarket Christmas ad competition. And, despite the ludicrously high bar set by last year’s emotional commemoration of the 1914 Christmas Day truce, we’re fairly confident Sainsbury’s will keep that title for another year. It’s cute, warm and jolly – all the good stuff we look for at this time of year.


Brand: Temptations
Title: Say Sorry
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Austen Humphries
Production Company Producer: Kelly Spacey
Director of Photography: Jim Joilliffe
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Ben Tollett, Richard Brim
Creatives: Steph Ellis, Rory Hall
Agency Producer: Catherine Cullen
Editing Company: Speade
Editor: Gareth McEwen
Music Company: Sound Lounge
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Phil Bolland
Post Production Company: The Mill

Temptations – Say Sorry

Speaking of cute... Cat treat brand Temptations have burst out of obscurity in the past couple of years thanks to the work of adam&eveDDB and, as that agency are the tried-and-tested masters of Christmas, it would be poor form not to do something festive. Naturally they’ve nailed it (with more than a little help from Elton John), encouraging us to spare a thought for the cats who’ve fallen victim to their own cuteness this yuletide.


Brand: Vodafone
Title: Terry the Turkey
Production Company: Thomas Thomas Films
Director:  Kevin Thomas
Production Company Producer: Trent Simpson
Director of Photography: Bob Pendar-Hughes
Ad Agency: Grey London
Creative Director: Matt Doman
Creative: Howard Green
Agency Producers: Marcus Eley, Sophie Paton
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Scot Crane
Sound Company: 750mph
Post Production Company: Gramercy Park Studios

Vodafone – Terry the Turkey

This is exactly the kind of uplifting parable we’re looking for at this time of year. Cuddly and funny, thanks to the deft touch of director Kevin Thomas. The pro-vegetarian overtones are surprising for such a mass-market brand, but it’s a compelling message, sure to warm the cockles, especially with the mighty Westlife backing it up.


Brand: Warburtons
Title: The Giant Crumpet Show
Production Company: Another Film Company
Director: Declan Lowney
Production Company Producer: Simon Monhemius
Ad Agency: WCRS
Creative Director: Billy Faithful
Creatives: Andy Lee, Johnny Porthouse
Agency Producer: Helen Powlette
Editing Company: Stitch
Editor:  Leo King
Sound Company: GCRS
Sound Designer: Ben Leeves
Post Production Company:  Finish

Warburtons – The Giant Crumpet Show

This ad’s status as part of the Christmas commercial extravaganza is debatable. Some have argued its lack of even a single sleigh bell should disqualify it from the competition, but seeing as Millward Brown have now crowned it the most effective campaign of the season those arguments can be safely laid to rest. The Muppets bring exactly the pantomime kind of vibe we love at this time of year. Brought together with a witty musical number written by the songsmiths at WCRS and expert comic direction from Declan Lowney, it’s easy to see why people are enjoying it so much.

High Five: November

November 11, 2015 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Laugh or cry before you buy.

We are living in an age of emotional advertising. The industry figured out a while ago that the key to memorable brand messaging is making us laugh or cry. Our pick of the best ads from the past month have the potential to do either of these (although one is more likely to make you sweat). That’s why they’re so good.

Brand: Acura
Title: The Test
Production Company: The Corner Shop
Director: Peter Thwaites (UK Representation: Outsider)
Production Company Producer: Jay Shapiro
Director of Photography: Joost Van Gelder
Ad Agency: Mullen Lowe
Creative Director: Margaret Keene
Creatives: Paul Foulkes, Chris Ford
Agency Producer: Dustin Oliver
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Bill Smedley
Sound Company: 740 Sound
Sound Designers: Chris Pinkston, Rob Marshall
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Acura – The Test

They may not make the most exhilarating cars on the road, so Acura have made a smart move selling themselves on safety in this campaign. It’s a simple, smart idea and the execution makes its emotional impact really poignant. Peter Thwaites’ subtle directorial touch paired with the gentle, futuristic music creates a powerful effect – one that stands out starkly from the usual noise of the commercial break.


Brand: Freeview
Title: Set Yourself Free
Production Companies: Rogue, Electric Theatre Collective
Directors: Sam Brown (Rogue), Sam Taylor & Bjorn-Erik Aschim (The Line)
Production Company Producers: Kate Hitchings (Rogue), Serena Noorani (Electric Theatre Collective)
Ad Agency: Leo Burnett London
Creative Directors: Matt Collier, Wayne Robinson
Creatives: Phillip Meyler, Barren Keff
Agency Producer: Becks O’Sullivan
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Amanda James
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designers: Sam Ashwell, Sam Robson, Mark Hellaby
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Freeview – Set Yourself Free

The choice of song in this ad is brilliant. While the rendition of Les Miserables classic I Dreamed A Dream may not be the most rousing we’ve heard, its message is a strong one, particularly paired with the Orwellian visuals. What are they trying to say with their song choice? That having to pay for TV channels is a miserable existence, comparable to the plight of peasants in pre-revolutionary France? Maybe that’s a bit much, but why the heck not? We’re being presented with a society of conscious, humanoid televisions and the protagonist is somehow actually quite cute. It’s a wildly excessive idea, but it’s a lot of fun for it.


Brand: Lotto
Title: Please Not Them (Vinnie Jones)
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Jeff Low
Production Company Producer: Dougal Meese
Director of Photography: Mattias Nyberg
Ad Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Creative Directors: Alex Grieve, Adrian Rossi
Creatives: Clark Edwards, Tim Riley, Jeremy Tribe
Agency Producer: Matt Towell
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Saam Hodivala
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designers: Sam Ashwell, Sam Robson
Post Production Company: The Mill

Lotto – Please Not Them (Vinnie Jones)

This whole series has been absolute gold and Vinnie Jones’ instalment is a particularly good one. Even when he’s evangelising about the virtues of anger, he’s somehow totally charming. The script is ridiculous and witty and it’s all drawn together by director Jeff Low’s comic chops, which must be world-renowned by now. 100 seconds usually seems an indulgent running time for a piece of advertising, but in this case it’s only just long enough.


Brand: Nike
Title: Last
Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Lance Acord
Production Company Producer: Caroline Kousidonis
Ad Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Portland
Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte, Ryan O’Rourke
Creatives: Heather Ryder, Darcie Burrell, Patty Orlando
Agency Producer: Shelley Eisner
Editing Company: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Angus Wall
Music Company: Walker Music
Sound Company: Barking Owl
Sound Designer: Michael Anastasi
Post Production Company: A52

Nike – Last

It’s tempting to draw parallels between this ad and Nike’s 2012 Jogger spot, which was also directed by Lance Accord and also focused on one not particularly proficient runner, but this is more than a replication of that good idea. It’s an antidote to the tone other sports brands often land on, where young people with flawless bodies and tight-fitting sports gear effortlessly glide through some athletic pursuit, leaving us mere mortals feeling flabby and incompetent. With only two shots and a simple, classic endline, the story of this woman is clear and its effect is an inspiration for all.


Brand: Wrigley
Title: Sarah & Juan
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Pete Riski
Production Company Producer: Tessa Mitchell
Ad Agency: Energy BBDO
Creative Director: Pedro Pérez
Creatives: Andrés Ordoñéz, Josejuan Toledo, Jesús Díaz, Pedro Pérez, Sofía González
Agency Producer: John Pratt
Editing Company: Cut+Run
Editor: Eve Ashwell
Music Company: ole Media Management L.P.
Sound Company: STIR Post
Sound Designer: Matt Holmes
Post Production Company: The Mill

Wrigley – Sarah & Juan

It’s easy to criticise schmaltzy commercials like this one and it definitely has more than a whiff of cheese to it (despite the cool minty flavour of the gum it advertises). But what’s wrong with that? Emotional storytelling is one of the most powerful tools advertisers have at their disposal and the amount of attention this ad has received from the public (over 12 million views on YouTube and counting) and the press (the Daily Mail, The Mirror and Buzzfeed, to name just a few) proves that it’s moving people around the world. Not all ads can rely on sardonic British comedy. Global brands like this have to speak to many audiences and, luckily for them, love is a language we all speak.

High Five: October

October 8, 2015 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Context is key to making this month’s best advertising.

All the ads that have made it into our choice cuts of this month’s advertising have something in common: they’re acutely aware of other advertising. Whether it’s building on what people loved about previous ads or making sure they stand out from the competition, each idea has been though through in context, not in a vacuum. That, along with expert craft, is what makes them so good.

Brand: Ballantine’s
Title: Space Glass
Production Company: Partizan
Director: Thomas Hilland
Production Company Producer: Ella Sanderson
Director of Photography: Ben Davies
Ad Agency: Havas Work Club
Creative Director: Ben Mooge
Creative: Anna Rose Kerr
Agency Producer: Tom Hoad
Editing Company: Tenthree
Editor: Charlie Roberts
Post Production Company: The Mill

Ballantine’s – Space Glass

There are plenty of clichés around whiskey advertising. Scottish manor houses by picturesque lochs, grizzly bearded men strolling between racks of old oak barrels, cobbled streets and horse-carts. In that light, Work Club have taken Ballantine’s tone in the best possible direction here, looking to the future of a spacefaring, but still whisky-drinking, human race. They’ve followed the trend of inventing something for marketing reasons. It’s a trend we approve of. Lexus made a hoverboard; Ballantine’s made a glass that works in microgravity. And Thomas Hilland has directed a beautifully space-age ad to convey this.


Brand: Beats by Dre
Title: McCaw
Production Companies: RESET, The Sweet Shop
Director: TWiN (UK Representation: Academy)
Production Company Producers: Nicole Crozier, Andy Mauger
Director of Photography: Lachlan Milne
Ad Agency: R/GA/Hustle
Creatives: Edwin Latchford, Ciaran McCarthy
Agency Producer: Davis Priestley
Editing Company: Arcade Edit
Editor: Brad Waskewich

Beats by Dre - McCaw

The All-Blacks’ haka is one of the most powerful images in sport, so it’s amazing it hasn’t been used more often in advertising. This year’s Rugby World Cup seems to be particularly brand-heavy, but this ad stands out. Firstly, it features a team who are likely to actually do well in and possibly win the tournament (the shot of the car with the Union Flag on being crushed could well turn out to be an apt metaphor). Secondly, it’s following a winning formula that Beats have used to make themselves one of the top brands advertising around sporting events. In the footsteps of Nike, they haven’t sponsored the event, but have spent that money elsewhere, like on this brilliantly crafted commercial. They certainly feel like they’re coming out of it ahead of Samsung – the RFU’s official electronics sponsor.


Brand: EA Sports
Production Company: Traktor
Director: Traktor (UK Representation: Rattling Stick)
Ad Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam
Creative Directors: Craig Williams, Alvaro Sotomayor, David Smith
Creatives: Vasco Vicente, Andrew Dobbie
Agency Producers: Elissa Singstock, Joe Togneri
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Edward Line
Music Company: Massive Music
Sound Company: GCRS
Sound Designer: Raja Sehgal, assisted by Aaron Taffel
Post Production Company: MPC


As if EA actually need to advertise that there’s a new FIFA game out every autumn. Anyone who’s ever owned a pair of football boots or an Xbox knows that. It does give them an excuse to make a big advertising extravaganza each year though, and this one goes all out with some of the sport’s biggest superstars, crazy visual effects and even a song with lyrics that are quite witty if you manage to make them out. A camped-up insight into how the game is made is a great way of showcasing it and the introduction of women’s teams for the first time is an exciting new addition too. They’ve tried to do everything at once here. It’s uncompromising and exciting.


Brand: Heineken
Title: The Chase
Production Company: MJZ
Director: Tom Kuntz
Production Company Producer: Chris McBride
Director of Photography: Benoit Debie
Ad Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam
Creative Directors: Eric Quennoy, Mark Bernath
Creatives: Thierry Albert, Faustin Claverie
Editing Company: Whitehouse Post
Editor: Russell Icke
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: MPC

Heineken – The Chase

The creatives at Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam clearly wanted to make the most of Heineken’s relationship with the 24th Bond film and they’ve done a top job cramming in as many references to the franchise as they can. Heienken ads have been far too smug and smarmy in the past, but this one comes off rather well. Focusing on the ad’s own Bond girl Zara Prassinot may have been motivated by Daniel Craig’s lack of availability (he’s only in a couple of shots), but it she’s charming and funny, creating that tone that is exactly what people love about James Bond.


Brand: Honda
Title: Paper
Production Company: RESET
Director: PES (UK Representation: Academy)
Production Company Producer: Stan Sawicki
Director of Photography: Erik Adkins
Ad Agency: RPA
Creative Directors: Ken Pappanduros, Chuck Blackwell
Creatives: Laura Crigler, Josh Hepburn
Agency Producer: Matt Magsaysay
Editing Company: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Stewart Reeves
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Phil Bolland
Post Production Company: A52

Honda – Paper

Everyone’s favourite Japanese advertisers are at it again, making brand advertising showcasing their illustrious history with an admirable focus on craft. We’ve heard this all before – the idea is basically a rehash of their 2013 Hands commercial – but it’s so beautifully made we have no problem with that. The execution is fresh enough to make the idea new again. The whole thing gives off the impression that Honda are extremely proud of their history, even as they do some of the most futuristic engineering on the planet.


High Five: September

September 10, 2015 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

There’s more than one way to skin an advertising client.

This month our selection of the best five pieces of advertising demonstrates the many different routes advertising can take. Whether it’s conveying a feeling about a brand through a shiny film, demonstrating the talents of a company through an engineering project or cashing in on a topical joke, each of these pieces of advertising chose the right approach for their client.

Brand: Honda
Title: Ignition
Production Company: Somesuch
Director: Aoife McArdle
Production Company Producer: James Waters
Director of Photography: John Lynch
Ad Agency: Wieden+Kennedy London
Creative Directors: Kim Papworth, Scott Dungate
Agency Producer: James Laughton
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Dan Sherwen
Music Company: Siren
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: The Mill

Honda - Ignition

Every time we see the word Honda appear in our press release mailbox, our High Five senses start to tingle. Alongside their trusted agency partners Wieden+Kennedy, they do brand advertising like no one else. This film is a celebration of the technological excellence they have demonstrated this year, in which the brand has returned to Formula 1 racing, made its first commercial flight and refreshed every model in its range of cars. The raw power of the film also proves director Aoife McArdle’s mighty talents are here to stay. We’ll take note whenever she appears in our inbox too.


Brand: Hostelworld
Title: Youth Hostelling With Chris Eubank
Production Company: Motion Picture House (MPH)
Director: Kelvin Hutchins
Director of Photography: Matthew Beecroft
Ad Agency: Lucky Generals
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Jeff Smith
Post Production Company: Absolute

Hostelworld – Youth Hostelling With Chris Eubank

It’s 18 years since Alan Partridge desperately cobbled together his TV pitch for ‘Youth Hostelling With Chris Eubank’ and it’s finally become a reality. Well, maybe. We don’t know if it will ever become the full travelogue we’ve dreamed of for so long, but this film is gratifying enough for now. What’s amazing is the speed at which agency Lucky Generals made it all happen. On 11th August Twitter buzzed with hilarity as it realised Chris Eubank still didn’t get Coogan’s joke. Within days they agency had got Chris himself on board, as well as Hostelworld and director Kelvin Hutchins of Motion Picture House. It was on YouTube by the 19th. That’s marketing in 2015.


Brand: John Lewis
Title: Tiny Dancer
Production Company: Blink
Director: Dougal Wilson
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Ben Tollett, Richard Brim
Creatives: Jo Cresswell, Sian Coole
Agency Producer: Jack Bayley
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Anthony Moore, Jon Clarke
Post Production Company: MPC

John Lewis – Tiny Dancer

If this was a bad ad, everyone in advertising would have to reassess what they know. It was made by the people who win the awards these days. From Client to Colourist, everyone on the credit list is at the top of their game. It’s predictably charming, exactly as warm as we expected and full of humanity. It’s also bang on the message for insurance. This particular tiny dancer looks likely to do some damage sooner or later, but who’d want to be the killjoy to stop her?


Brand: Lexus
Title: Slide
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Henry-Alex Rubin
Production Company Producers: Gordon Mackinnon, Ray Leakey
Director of Photography: Ken Seng
Ad Agency: CHI & Partners
Creative Director: Monty Verdi
Creatives: Brad Woolf, Dan Bailey
Agency Producers: Zoe Barlow, Nikki Cramphorn, Nicola Ridley, Matt Cresswell, Lindsay Hughes
Editing Company: Marshall Street Editors
Editor: Spencer Ferszt
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designer: Parv Thind
Post Production Company: MPC

Lexus – Slide

When Lexus revealed this, the internet’s nit-pickers came out in force, voicing their disappointment that their hoverboard needed a special skatepark to work. They barely stopped to appreciate the fact that Lexus have made an actual hoverboard that levitates (even over water!) enough for pro skater Ross McGouran to star in this brilliant skate video style ad, deftly captured by action specialist Henry-Alex Rubin. An exhilarating film that tells an impressive story of engineering.


Brand: Pot Noodle
Title: You Can Make It
Production Company: Blink
Director: Nick Ball
Production Company Producer: Toby Courlander
Director of Photography: Chris Sabogal
Ad Agency: Lucky Generals
Creative Director: Danny Brooke-Taylor
Creatives: George Allen, Lizzie Moore
Agency Producer: Sophie Jones
Editing Company: Work Post
Editor: Mark Edinoff
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designer: Jack Sedgewick
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Pot Noodle – You Can Make It

Pot Noodle’s advertising has always been brilliantly comfortable with the fact that they’re trashy but delicious and their advertising has celebrated this guilty pleasure status to varying degrees of success over the years. This time round they’ve got the tone exactly right, perfectly parodying the try-hard, aspirational voice of so many commercials we have to stomach these days. It’s a great laugh.

High Five: August

August 6, 2015 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Have a giggle, paid for by these big brands.

Our pick of the best ads of this month are fun pieces of film that you might actually enjoy watching. The brands who paid for them want your money and they’re happy to pay for your amusement if it means you’re more likely to give you their custom. As consumers we’re the kings and queens that the court jester brands are desperate to please. What an ego trip that is.

Brand: Foster’s
Title: Cheerleader
Production Company: Independent
Director: Gary Freedman (The Glue Society)
Production Company Producer: Jason Kemp
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
Post Production Company: The Mill

Foster’s - Cheerleader

So this is what post-blokey Foster’s advertising looks like. They may have got rid of the Aussie stereotypes a bit, but they’ve still got the right tone of humour in this mockumentary ad. Clever casting has made sure the hero looks totally out of place and the dialogue is well timed. It may not have been the most socially progressive campaign, but Brad and Dan’s bro-down of a call centre won the IPA Effectiveness Grand Prix last year. Will this new, less conventionally masculine approach deliver the same value for the client?


Brand: Harvey Nichols
Title: Shoplifters
Production Company: Blinkink
Executive Producer: Bart Yates
Director: Layzell Bros
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Ben Tollett, Richard Brim
Creatives: Colin Booth, Ben Stilitz
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Anne Perri
Sound Company: Wave
Post Production Company: Blinkink Studio

Harvey Nichols – Shoplifters

This is a neat little idea that amazingly, after 60 years of TV advertising, hasn’t been done yet. It’s compelling in the sadistic, guilty-pleasure way that shows like Road Wars and Cop Squad are. The animations the Layzell Bros have used to protect the identities of these rapscallions are a fun touch too and give the whole idea a cheeky charm. And it’s true, who hasn’t fallen in love with a £770 butterfly T-shirt while perusing Harvey Nicks and considered stuffing it into their haversack? The advertised rewards might just allow you to afford it.


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

Lotto – Please Not Them (Katie Price)

This series is a good laugh and its widely despised subjects (Piers Morgan and Laurence Llewelyn Bowen complete the set) are surprisingly good sports. Jeff Low has done an admirable job getting them to caricature themselves, accentuating the bits we all love to hate. The idea has some logic to it – if you don’t play the Lotto you can be sure some self-obsessed arse clown will – although it’s hard to believe any of these particular idiots are struggling for money. They’ve managed to con people into paying them for behaving like this.


Brand: MoneySuperMarket
Title: Colin
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Noam Murro
Production Company Producer: Andrew Denyer
Director of Photography: Eric Schmidt
Ad Agency: Mother
Editing Company: Work
Editor:  Neil Smith
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Robson
Post Production Company: MPC

MoneySuperMarket – Colin

Advertisers seem well into dismantling norms of masculinity at the moment. It’s cool. And understandable – it’s the sort of strategy that wins awards. It may well also reflect the metamorphosis the modern man is going through in the 21st Century. We’ve broken free of the age of Nuts and Zoo. Men can eat salads in public now. Dave’s ample booty went down very well last year, so Colin’s steamy routine, amusingly caught on camera, is probably going to be popular too.


Brand: Samsung
Title: Surf
Production Company: Stink
Director: Eliot Rausch
Production Company Producer: Jennifer Barrons
Directors of Photography: Alexis Zabe, Daren Crawford
Ad Agency: 72andSunny
Editing Company: Whitehouse Post
Editor: Russell Icke
Creative Director: Paulo Martins
Creatives: Yann Corlay, Patric Franz
Agency Producers: Peter Williams, Eline Bakker
Post Production Company: Glassworks

Samsung – Surf

It’s as bold move to make an ad about surfing. Comparisons against the official best ad ever are usually best avoided. But this is just a stunningly good-looking film about a particularly cinematic sport. The script is a little cheesy but powerfully conveys the passion surfers feel for their way of life. Working with the World Surf League, they’ve got it just right. Credit to Eliot Rausch, this sort of film lives or dies on how its directed and he’s filled it with humanity and beauty.

High Five: July

July 9, 2015 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

The best advertising is strange but true.

Some of the best advertising is absolutely bizarre, from Tango, Orange Man to Hamlet, Photo Booth. And as long as advertising’s job is to stand out from the noise that surrounds us the weirdness is set to keep on coming. This month’s round-up of the best advertising is weirder than most and, we would argue, all the better for it.

Brand: AA
Title: We’ve Seen It All
Production Company: Outsider
Director: Scott Lyon
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Aidan McClure, Laurent Simon
Creatives: Rory Hall, Steph Ellis
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Art Jones
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Anthony Moore, Tom Joyce
Post Production Company: The Mill

AA – We’ve Seen It All

It’s a cliché to say that great advertising comes from finding ‘nugget of truth’ and building on it, but clichés are often true. The idea here is based on a feeling everyone who’s ever broken down at an awkward time can relate to, particularly if you grew up on on our neurotic little island: What will the breakdown people think of me? Well rest assured, implies this ad with warm British humour, because the AA have seen much worse and will fix your vehicle without (an unprofessional amount of) judgement.


Brand: Finlandia
Title: 1000 Years
Production Company: Knucklehead
Director: Siri Bunford
Production Company Producer: Anandi Peiris
Director of Photography: Ben Smithard
Ad Agency: Wieden+Kennedy London
Creative Directors: Graeme Douglas, Scott Dungate
Creatives: Mark Shanley, Paddy Treacy
Agency Producer: Michelle Brough
Editing Companies: Whitehouse Post, Lucky Cat
Editors: Adam Marshall, Xavier Perkins
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Anthony Moore, Phil Bollard
Post Production Company: MPC
Grade: Matthieu Toullet

Finlandia – 1000 Years

Admittedly, we’ve seen quite few ads like this for alcohol brands. As the youth becomes more and more obsessed with being unique, just like everyone else, we get more and more brands appealing to their free spirit tendencies with films like this. But when it’s done well it’s quite convincing. The people it profiles are an interesting mix of people, and some of them are even old enough to be offering sage advice. Director Siri Bunford has done a solid job, applying her deft touch to a straightforward idea and bringing out the inspirational message at its core.


Brand: Rekorderlig
Title: Silver Skaters
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Andreas Nilsson
Production Company Producer: Charlotte Woodhead
Director of Photography: Stephen Keith Roach
Ad Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi London
Creative Directors: Rob Potts, Andy Jex
Creative: Adam Chiappe
Agency Producer: Josh Sanders
Editing Company: Cut+Run
Editor: Ben Campbell
Music Company: Major Tom
Sound Company: GCRS
Sound Designer: Munzie Thind
Post Production Company:  Electric Theatre Collective

Rekorderlig – Silver Skaters

This is brilliant for the same reason Cadbury’s Gorilla was – you can’t quite explain why, but it makes you happy. “Beautifully Swedish” reads the ad’s crisp couplet of copy. Whether the bizarre antics of these beardy gentlemen are particularly Swedish isn’t clear to our British minds, but we’ll have to trust director Andreas Nilsson knows what he’s doing – he did win the Film Grand Prix at Cannes Lions last year for his work for Volvo after all. What we can attest to is the film’s beauty. It’s weird, but it’s definitely wonderful too.


Brand: Southern Comfort
Title: Spray Tan
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Andreas Nilsson
Production Company Producers: Jay Veal, Mirka Taylor
Director of Photography: Sebastian Winterø
Ad Agency: Wieden+Kennedy New York
Creative Directors: Mike Giepert, Caleb Jensen, Jimm Lasser
Creatives: Rajeev Basu, Laddie Peterson
Agency Producer: Cheryl Warbrook
Editing Company: Arcade
Editor: Geoff Hounsell
Sound Company: Heard City
Post Production Company: The Mill

Southern Comfort – Spray Tan

Andreas Nilsson and Wieden+Kennedy strike again with another perplexing-yet-compelling piece of film. Southern Comfort have been spinning their web of weirdness for a while now, but nothing has quite matched that first high of their Beach commercial in 2012. This comes in as a close second, we think. Focusing again on men who lack conventional good looks but feel like rock stars anyway, it’s the antidote the smug, sharply dressed, dead-behind-the-eyes models other alcohol brands seem to prefer.


Brand: Veterans for Peace
Title: Battlefield Casualties
Production Company: Agile Films
Director: Price James
Production Company Producer: Micki Pearlman
Director of Photography:  John Miguel King
Editors: Rob Simpkins, Amy Beton
Music Composer: Darren Cullen
Sound Company: Tom Deane Sound
Sound Designer: Tom Deane
Post Production Company: Gramercy Park Studios

Veterans for Peace – Battlefield Casualties

The best charity ads don’t need to douse you in misery to be effective, even if their subject matter is justifiably miserable. Veterans for Peace and Director Price James have pulled off a much more effective technique here – they’ve dared to joke about the horrors of life after war. Astonishingly, their parodies of Action Man commercials are actually funny. What’s more astonishing is that while the comedy is black, the laughter they provoke is a compassionate kind, targeted at the absurdity of war rather than the suffering of its victims.


High Five: June

June 8, 2015 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Proof of the incredible image making that goes into advertising.

We think these five ads are the best of last month. There’s a smart idea at the core of each of them, but what makes this lot particularly special is the amazing film craft. They’re visually stunning – testament to the skills of the people who made them.

Brand: Cravendale
Title: The Milk Drinker
Production Company: Riff Raff, Canada London
Director: Canada
Production Company Producer: Cathy Hood
Director of Photography: Arnaud Potier
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative Directors: Larry Seftel, David Day
Creatives: Thom Whitaker, Danielle Noel
Agency Producers: Emily Rudge, Helen Whileley
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Dominic Leung
Music Company: Woodwork Music
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: MPC

Cravendale – The Milk Drinker

Remember the Southern Comfort beach guy? Here’s his non-alcoholic counterpart who looks like he just stepped off of Wes Anderson set. Wieden + Kennedy have been taking Cravendale to some pretty weird places in recent years and this film continues that record while introducing the particular flavour of nonchalant, charming cool the East London agency seems to do so well.


Brand: Coco De Mer
Title: X
Production Company: Rankin Film
Directors: Rankin, Damien Fry & Jo Hunt, Trisha Ward, Bronwen Parker-Rhodes, David Allain, Vicky Lawton
Production Company Producers: Clark Jackson, Lauren Havard, Ada Almeida
Directors of Photography: Eric Zimmerman, Matthew Taylor, Marcus Autelli
Ad Agency: TBWA\London
Creative Director: Walter Campbell
Creative: Sean Doyle
Agency Producer: Natalie Spooner
Editor: Nick Gilberg
Music Company: Platinum Rye
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designers: Simon Carroll, Peter Salmang
Post Production Company: MPG

Coco De Mer – X

If sex sells, you’d think advertising luxury lingerie and sex toy boutique Coco De Mer would be an easy job. That said, consider how bad this film could have been if it was done poorly. Huge cringe potential. Thankfully, TBWA have enlisted the vision of Rankin, an expert in sexy image-making. But it’s more than just sexy. It’s weird, intriguing and arty (some might say pretentious, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for such a brand), a vibrant, exciting piece of film.


Brand: Greenpeace
Title: A Song of Oil, Ice, and Fire
Production Company: Partizan
Director: Martin Stirling
Production Company Producer: Ella More O’Ferrall
Ad Agency: Don’t Panic
Creative Director: Richard Beer
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Steve Ackroyd
Sound Company: Pure Soho
Sound Designer: Jason Peacock
Post Production Company: Smoke & Mirrors

Greenpeace – A Song of Oil, Ice and Fire

Greenpeace never pull any punches in their advertising. In response to Shell’s imminent threats to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic, this film highlights the horrific effects such actions could have. Director Martin Stirling has taken classic paintings and corrupted them with the dystopian scenes of pollution and destruction that companies like Shell leave in their wale. Paired with the right soundtrack these images communicate a poignant message. Hopefully it will change minds and help protect the unique environment and wildlife of the Arctic for a little longer.


Brand: Honda
Title: Feeling
Production Company: RSA Films
Director: Johnny Hardstaff
Production Company Producer: Annabel Ridley
Director of Photography: Martin Ruhe
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative Director: Scott Dungate
Creatives: Ben Shaffery, Max Batten
Agency Producer: Michelle Brough
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Art Jones
Music Company: Nate Connolly
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: MPC

Honda – Feeling

We all know everything looks better in slow motion. Wieden + Kennedy and director Johnny Hardstaff have taken this idea to its logical conclusion in their latest ad for the new Honda Civic and they’ve pulled it off with flair. The idea is focusing on the minute details in ideal moments of driving pleasure. They could have done it in simple freeze-frames, but this incredible super slow-mo approach, paired with exquisite visual effects from MPC, makes it a visual feast that improves with repeat viewing. A unique commercial that chimes harmoniously with Honda’s usual tone.


Brand: John Smith’s
Title: Cow Master
Production Company: Somesuch
Director: Nick Gordon
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Aidan McClure, Laurent Simon
Creatives: Ben Stilitz, Colin Booth
Agency Producer: Cara Geraghty
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Dominic Leung
Music Company: Soundtree
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Anthony Moore, Jon Clarke
Post Production Company: MPC

John Smith’s – Cow Master

It’s been a while since John Smith’s last took to our ad breaks with Peter Kay’s perfectly judged endorsements and they’re back with their new agency adam&eveDDB and a completely different tone. This mockumentary style is a little bit more intriguing than their simple pub gags of their past, but the underlying honesty and humour is still there. It’s an absurd idea, but Nick Gordon’s realisation of the script makes it almost believable.