High Five: November

November 11, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

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

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

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

Google – FKA twigs

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

 

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

H&M – You Vs

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

 

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

Halfords – Street Rider

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Woolmark – Lost & Found

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

High Five: October

October 6, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Leica – 100

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

RFU – Team Talk

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

 

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

Volkswagen – Priorities

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

High Five: September

September 11, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

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

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

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

Axe – Monday; Wednesday

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

 

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

Coors Light – Ice Bar

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

 

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

Direct Line – Write Off

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

 

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

Kenco – Coffee Vs Gangs

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

 

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

Uncle Ben’s – The Family Home of the Future

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

High Five: August

August 14, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

A handful of ads that prove brave is best.

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

Brand: Ikea

Title: Beds

Production Company: MJZ

Director: Juan Cabral

Production Company Producer: Stephen Johnson

Director of Photography: Eric Gautier

Ad Agency: Mother

Editing Company: Work

Editor: Neil Smith

Sound Company: 750mph

Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell

Post Production Company: MPC

Ikea - Beds

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

 

Brand: Imperial War Museum

Title: Flight of the Stories

Production Company: Aardman

Director: Darren Dubicki

Production Company Producer: Helen Argo

Ad Agency: Johnny Fearless

Art Director: Pia Knight

Copywriter: Paul Domenet

Agency Producer: Christian Lobo

Music Company: Soviet Science

Sound Company: GCRS

Sound Designer: Ben Leeves

Post Production Companies: Aardman, Big Buoy

Imperial War Museum – Flight of the Stories

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

 

Brand: Johnnie Walker

Title: The Gentlemen’s Wager

Production Company: RSA Films

Director: Jake Scott

Production Company Producers: Jules Daly and Tracie Norfleet

Director of Photography: John Mathiesson, ASC

Ad Agency: Anomaly

Creatives: Mike Byrne, Dave Douglass

Agency Producer: Winslow Dennis

Editing Company: Peep Show

Editor: Andrea MacArthur

Music Company: Eclectic

Composers: Smith & Elms

Sound Company: Heard City

Sound Designer: Cory Melious

Post Production Company: The Mill

Johnnie Walker – The Gentleman’s Wager

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

 

Brand: Royal Marines

Title: They Come from the Sea

Production Company: RSA Films

Director: Johnny Hardstaff

Production Company Producer: Ben Link

Ad Agency: WCRS

Creative Director: Billy Faithfull

Creatives: Katy Hopkins, Steve Hawthorne

Agency Producer: Lizzie Mabbott

Editing Company: The Whitehouse

Editor: John Smith

Sound Company: Wave

Sound Designer: Joe Mount

Post Production Company: MPC

Royal Marines – They Come from the Sea

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

 

Brand: Three

Title: We’re Sorry

Production Company: Hungryman

Director: Ric Cantor

Production Company Producer: Jack Beardsley

Director of Photography: Mike George

Ad Agency: Wieden+Kennedy London

Creative Directors: Scott Dungate, Graeme Douglas

Art Director: Greg Kouts

Copywriter: Anthony Atkinson

Agency Producer: Michelle Brough

Editing Company: Ten Three

Editor: Billy Mead

Music Company: Finger Music

Sound Company: Finger Music

Sound Designer: Tom Joyce

Post Production Company: Time Based Arts

Three – We’re Sorry

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

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.