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.

High Five: November

November 5, 2013 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Close your other tabs, sit back and watch our pick of the month’s best ads.

The ad industry has been working hard this month. It was tough whittling the submissions down to just five great films, but we’ve managed the mammoth task. In advertising terms, we’ve got a couple of true blockbusters here, as well as some more surprising offerings. Have a gander.

Brand: Diehard
Title: The Getaway
Production Company: Tool
Director: Tom Routson
Production Company Producer: Cindy Becker
Ad Agency: Young & Rubicam
Creative Directors: Pam Mufson, Jeremy Smallwood
Agency Producer: Laurie Adrianapoli
Editing Company: The Whitehouse
Editor: Matthew Wood
Post Production Company: The Mill

Diehard - The Getaway

Zombies are cool at the moment. No longer confined to low-budget B-movies used to fill late-night October TV schedules, they’re actually pretty mainstream now. Ask any man under 40 what his zombie apocalypse contingency plan is and you’ll likely get an impressive answer. This film demonstrates how you can make an exciting ad for even the most uninspiring products. It’s 108 seconds of professionally realised action drama that’s earned over 1.6 million hits on YouTube.

Brand: Eurostar
Title: Stories are Waiting in Paris
Production Company: HLA
Director: Simon Ratigan
Production Company Producer: Mike Wells
Director of Photography: Martin Hill
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors:  Adrian Rossi, Alex Grieve
Agency Producer: Anita Sasdy
Editing Company: The Play Room
Editor: Adam Spivey
Sound Company: Wave
Post Production Company: The Mill

Eurostar – Stories are Waiting in Paris

This is further evidence to support Simon Ratigan’s reputation as a director to make you smile. The portraiture is lovely and interspersing touristy photos with video works well stylistically. The idea’s strong too. It’s not all about the French capital’s good points, which only strengthens its argument. A nice, warm piece of advertising to remind us how easy it is to get to the most romantic city in the world.

Brand: Honda
Title: An Impossible Made Possible
Production Company: Gorgeous
Director: Chris Palmer
Production Company Producer: Emma Butterworth
Director of Photography: Daniel Landin
Ad Agency: McGarryBowen
Creative Directors: Paul Jordan, Angus Macadam
Creatives: Richard Holmes, Remco Graham
Agency Producer: Richard Firminger
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Paul Watts
Post Production Company: The Mill

Honda – An Impossible Made Possible

OK, it’s a little bit clever cloggs. But then again, Honda has always managed to pull this kind of thing off without sounding too precocious. There’s something in their brand’s tone that seems friendly and intelligent at the same time, like Stephen Fry. You could argue that the point about the car isn’t hammered home particularly hard, but maybe that doesn’t matter. Honda have always been good at brand advertising and this works just fine as an example of that.

Brand: Sony
Title: Volcano
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Jaron Albertin
Production Company Producer: Nick Fewtrell
Ad Agency: McCann London
Creative Directors: Rob Doubal, Laurence Thomson
Art Directors: Arman Naji, Javier Gomez, Michael Thomason
Copywriter: Arman Naji
Agency Producers: Paula Mackersey, Anita Osborne, Charlie Macpherson
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Paul Hardcastle
Post Production Company: Framestore

Sony - Volcano

We’ve been waiting for this one. Sony Bravia’s excellent Bouncy Balls and Paint commercials blew us away back in 2005 and 2006 and this is the long-awaited sequel. The idea is to make something beautiful – there’s not a lot more to it than that. But the actual execution must have been torturous to pull off. The production used an estimated 8 million real petals. Isn’t that the sort of fact you just want to tell everyone?

Brand: Specsavers
Title: Workout
Production Company: Hungry Man
Director: Tim Bullock
Production Company Producer: Matt Jones
Ad Agency: Specsavers Creative
Creative Director: Graham Daldry
Creatives: Neil Brush, Simon Bougourd
Agency Producer: Sam Lock
Editing Company: The Whitehouse
Editor: John Smith
Post Production Company: MPC

Specsavers – Workout

Specsavers have been running variations on this joke for donkeys’ years, but there’s a good reason for that – it still makes people laugh. Recruiting comedy expert Tim Bullock to direct it has paid off, putting this incarnation of the classic gag up there with some of their best. Like so many of their ads, this one could run for years.

High Five: October

October 3, 2013 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

The most exhilarating selection of the month’s best advertising you're likely to find on the web.

Good advertising should make you feel something. Having finished the process of selecting our best video advertising this month, we’re feeling exhausted. There were so many high-octane, dramatic commercials to get through and we think we’ve managed to help the best rise to the top.

Brand: Allianz
Title: School Run
Production Company: Moxie Pictures
Director: Keith McCarthy
Production Company Producer: Jess Ensor
Director of Photography: Nanu Segal
Ad Agency: Grey London
Agency Producer: Daisy Mellors
Editing Company: Stitch
Editor: Tim Hardy
Sound: Mike Palmer
Post Production Company: MPC

Allianz – School Run

When it comes to home truths, the whole “parenting is hard” thing has always been popular with ad agencies. Of course there’s a reason for that, but it does make it pretty hard to create something dazzling out of that idea. The people behind this ad decided to take the surrealist route, pushing a metaphor to its absolute limits and with Keith McCarthy helming they've nailed it. It’s come out as a cinematic drama that’s far enough from kitchen sink to make people sit up and watch.

Brand: European Parliament
Title: Act. React. Impact.
Production Company: Lovo/Stink
Director: Norman Bates
Agent: Bruno Dejonghe (Glue Management)
Ad Agency: Ogilvy Brussels
Creative Director: Sam De Win
Art Director: Ivan Moons
Copywriter: Stephen Walckiers
Agency Producer: Cynthia Pire

European Parliament – Act. React. Impact.

Advertising something as broad as the European Parliament is an odd brief. And quite a difficult one. This sort of imperative-laden copywriting has been overused lately and in some pretty bad commercials, too. But it works here. Despite having to appeal to people across a whole continent, the message is easy to grasp and it’s helped in no small part by the incredible imagery Norman Bates has put to it.

Brand: Guinness
Title: Basketball
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Noam Murro
Production Company Producer: Emily Skinner
Director of Photography: Simon Duggan
Ad Agency: BBDO New York
Creative Directors: David Lubars, Dan Lucey, Chris Beresford-Hill, Tom Kraemer
Agency Producer: Kevin Wilson
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Neil Smith

Guinness – Basketball

There’s nothing too fancy about this ad, which is lucky because Guinness have tried to get fancy in recent times and failed. Extolling the virtues of proper good human beings, it’s something we can all get behind and it goes some way to making that awkward “made of more” line make sense. In this brand’s long list of hits and misses, we’d definitely put this under the hit column.

Brand: St John Ambulance
Title: Save the Boy
Production Company: Blink
Director: Dougal Wilson
Production Company Producer: Ewen Brown
Director of Photography: Lasse Frank
Ad Agency: BBH
Creative Directors: Matt Doman, Ian Heartfield
Creatives: Alex Ball, Rob Ellis
Agency Producer: Natalie Parish
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editors: Paul Moth, Joe Guest
Sound Company: Factory
Post Production Company: MPC

St John Ambulance – Save the Boy

Following last year’s award magnet from Benito Montorio, this charity commercial uses the same shock tactics to great effect, reminding us that first aid is actually a lot more dramatic than it sounds. Run as both a TV ad and an educational interactive campaign, it drives the message home powerfully. Hopefully it will save lives.

Brand: Vodafone
Title: Add Power to Your Life
Production Company: Radical Media
Director: Sebastian Strasser
Production Company Producer: Susa Ehlers
Director of Photography: Joost van Gelder
Ad Agency: Jung von Matt
Creative Directors: Goetz Ulmer, Simon Hiebl
Art Director: Pavel Bondarenko
Copywriter: Heiner Twenhaefel
Agency Producer: Christoph Koehler
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Paul Hardcastle
Post Production Companies: MPC, Time Based Arts

Vodafone – Add Power to Your Life

There’s a lot going on here and if you just sit back and let the stunning visual effects wash over you it’s a rip-roaring ride. Mind you, it must have been fairly boring to shoot for the actor, having to interact with CG creatures and objects all the way through. Power is the message here and it’s rammed home suitably hard. And why not? Having access to all the knowledge in the world in a device that can fit in a skinny-fit jean pocket is a pretty powerful thing.

High Five: September

September 6, 2013 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

A lesson from the masters.

You might recognise one or two of the directors’ names in this month’s selection of the best advertising. We’ve got some real heavy-hitters here, bringing their talents to bear on the scripts that everyone wants. Have a watch and see if they do the scripts justice.

Brand: Audi
Title: The Ring
Production Company: Academy
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Production Company Producer: Simon Cooper
Director of Photography: Barry Ackroyd
Ad Agency: BBH
Creative Directors: Matt Doman, Ian Heartfield
Creatives: Simon Pearse, Emmanuel Saint M’Leux
Agency Producer: Ruben Mercadal
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Paul Watts
Music Company: Soundtree
VFX Company: MPC

Audi – The Ring

Jonathan Glazer is the man behind some of the most memorable commercials of all time, including Guinness Surfer – voted the greatest TV ad of all time by the British public – and his talent for depicting strong, inspiring characters shines through in this dramatic boxing scene. Focusing on the unsung hero of the referee, it’s a strong analogy and the film makes the message about the advertised product very clearly. It’s excellent, but you wouldn’t expect less from Jonathan now would you?

Brand: Barclays
Title: Love is Tough
Production Company: Blink
Director: Benito Montorio
Production Company Producer: Josh Barwick
Director of Photography: Steve Annis
Ad Agency: BBH
Creative Director: Nick Gill
Creatives: Vix Jagger, Ric Hooley
Agency Producer: Peter Montgomery
Editing Company: Stitch
Editor: Andy McGraw
VFX Company: MPC

Barclays – Thank You

This is an interesting one when you consider its audience. It’s a bit of a tearjerker, around the concept of love, made for football fans. That’s daring, considering the vast majority of advertising around sport goes for a sort of blokey pub humour approach. While many undoubtedly object to a bank speaking as if they own the Premier League, they’ve forked out the cash to make sure only they can make an ad like this.

Brand: John Lewis
Title: Things Matter
Production Company: Blink
Director: Dougal Wilson
Production Company Producer: Ewen Brown
Director of Photography: Lasse Frank, Toby Howell
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Ben Priest, Ben Tollett, Emer Stamp
Creatives: Simon Lloyd, Christine Turner, Rory Hall, Steph Ellis
Agency Producer: Sophie Smith
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Music Company: Finger Music
Sound Company: Factory Studios
VFX Company: MPC

John Lewis – Things Matter

It’s a John Lewis ad directed by Dougal Wilson. Expectations are obviously high. And of course it lives up to every one of them. Tremendously accomplished filmmaking, brought together by impeccable VFX work and, as always, it’s completely adorable, which is actually quite amazing when you consider we don’t see an actor until 27 seconds in. In these sentimental, family-based commercials, the soundtrack is always vital and Nina Nesbitt’s cover of Fleetwood Mac is bang on the money, tying the whole job up with a nice little bow.

Brand: Marmite
Title: End Marmite Neglect
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Production Company Producer: Benji Howell
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Pete Hayes, Rob Messeter, Mike Crowe
Creatives: Nick Sheppard, Tom Webber
Agency Producer: Chris Styring
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Art Jones
VFX Company: Framestore

Marmite – End Marmite Neglect

This is a great commercial because it went to the perfect director.  Documentary-style, serious-faced comedy is exactly what James Rouse does best and he evokes some very funny performances here. At the root of the laughs is a home truth we know all too well but have probably never thought about. It’s not flashy. There are no stunning visual effects or flowery copywriting – just a good idea executed with absolute competence.

Brand: NBC
Title: An American Coach in London
Production Company: Moxie Pictures
Director: Martin Granger
Production Company Producer: Claire Jones
Ad Agency: The Brookyln Brothers
Creative Director: Guy Barnett
Agency Producer: Tina Lam
Editor: Joseph Dillingham
VFX Company: The Mill

NBC – An American Coach in London

This is a comedy gem and, having already earned over five million views, it’s up there with the all-stars of branded content – proof that good quality does the business when it comes to going viral. The writing is so funny it could easily run as a regular sketch on TV and the performance from comedian Jason Sudeikis is just brilliant. Of course it’s already dated thanks to that Gareth Bale gag, but that’s not really the point.