High Five: June

June 10, 2017 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Great advertising that moves the conversation forwards.

When it’s good, advertising is part of culture. And the best advertising this month is exactly that, not only taking influence from society and people in the world but contributing to the conversations people are having, moving discourse forward. There’s a genuine debate to be had around each of these five pieces of film. That’s why we think they’re the best of the month.

Brand: Heinz
Title: Office
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Production Company Producer: Benji Howell
Director of Photography: Alex Melman
Ad Agency: BBH London
Creative Director: Uche Uzugwu
Creatives: Andy Parsons
Agency Producer: Jessica Savoury
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Mark Edinoff
Sound Company: Hogarth
Visual Effects Company: Framestore

Heinz – Office

In 2016 the world reached peak ‘clean eating’ as publishers turned Instagram feeds into recipe books, full of steamed chicken breast and massaged kale, that flew off the shelves. Everyone’s familiar with an amateur nutritionist, min-maxing their protein and vitamin intake, which is of course why this ad and its companion, Home, are so relatable. Baked beans might not be the health nut’s go-to meal component, but it’s easy to get on their side when they’re contrasted with such douchebaggery.



Brand: Lynx
Title: Is it OK for guys…
Production Company: Caviar
Director: Thomas Ralph
Production Company Producer: Scott O’Donnell
Director of Photography: Joseph Guy
Ad Agency: 72andsunny
Creative Directors: Matt Heck, Laura Visco
Creative: Georgianna Gregori
Agency Producer: Stephanie Oakley
Editing Company: Stitch London
Editor: Paul O’Reilly
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designers: Ed Downham, Alex Nicholls-Lee
Visual Effects Company: MPC

Lynx - Is it OK for guys...

Lynx / Axe’s crusade to redefine masculinity more loosely continues in this film. It was a smart move for the brand to make themselves the Dove for men, addressing the pressures society seems to heap on people. The point-of-view style paired with a choppy edit helps to make it an uncomfortable watch that captures the anxiety of adolescence and young adulthood perfectly. Hopefully it will help some young men to grow into their true selves. It might even flog some deodorant.


Brand: Marks & Spencer
Title: Spend it Well, Food
Production Companies: Town Productions
Directors: Matt Doman, Food Film
Production Company Producer: Fritha Dickie
Ad Agency: Grey London
Creative Director: Matt Doman
Creatives: Matt Doman, Angela Harding
Agency Producer: Fritha Dickie
Editor: Matt Newman
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Jack Sedgwick
Visual Effects Company: MPC

Marks & Spencer - Food

This ad combines classic M&S food porn visuals with a voiceover that continues Grey’s new message for the brand of ‘spending it well’. It’s sumptuous as ever, combining decades of expertise in food cinematography to make a grilled pepper look the best it possibly can. It’s got some nice shots of the world outside the kitchen edited in very cleverly, too.



Brand: RNLI
Title: Float to Live
Production Company: Nice Shirt Films
Director: Olly Goodrum
Production Company Producer: Luke Goodrum
Director of Photography:  Patrick Duroux
Ad Agency: Krow
Creative Director: Tim Robertson
Creatives: Matt Allen, Nigel Roberts
Agency Producer: Sushi Tester
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Ross Hallard
Sound Company: Jungle Studios
Sound Designer: Jim Griffin
Visual Effects Company: Raised by Wolves

RNLI – Float to Live

This film isn’t trying anything to clever or tricky. There’s a very simple message here – that you should try and float calmly if you fall in cold water. The script is to the point and instructive and the visuals illustrate the feeling of falling in cold water clearly yet poetically. It’s an elegant film and hopefully it will save lives.


Brand: UEFA
Title: We Play Strong
Production Company: Nexus Studios
Director: Kibwe Tavares
Production Company Producer: Josh Buchanan
Ad Agency: FCB Inferno
Creative Director: Elspeth Lynn
Creative: Sarah Lefkowith
Agency Producer: Kate Grenfell
Editing Company: Stitch
Editor: Tim Hardy
Music Company: Leland Music
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: John Clarke
Visual Effects Companies: Time Based Arts, Unit

UEFA – We Play Strong

This is the start of an aim by UEFA to make football the number-one played sport for women in Europe within five years and it’s a strong opening gambit. While it’s hard to deny that it owes a fair bit to Kim Gehrig’s classic This Girl Can for Sport England, director Kibwe Tavares has certainly made the script come to life in his uniquely vibrant style. It’s energizing and the tone is spot on. Backed up by messaging like this, UEFA could make the change that women’s football deserves.

High Five: May

May 10, 2017 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Advertising on its best behaviour before the summer silly season.

The sun is finally peeking out. The industry’s already psyching itself up for Cannes. And they’re on their best behaviour churning out the best advertising to earn that week on the French Riviera. This month’s best advertising is slick, stylish and smart.

Brand: Carlsberg
Title: The Danish Way
Production Company: Stink
Director: Martin Krejci
Production Company Producer: Charlotte Woodhead
Ad Agency: Fold7
Chief Creative Officer: Ryan Newey
Executive Creative Director: Simon Learman
Creative: Lucy Aston
Agency Producers: Imogen Bell, Felicity Cruickshank
Editing Company: Marshall Street Editors
Editor: Tim Thornton-Allan
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Visual Effects Company: MPC

Carlsberg – The Danish Way

It’s been a slow, dawning realisation, but it might just be possible that beer brands have outgrown the football-and-pizza lad culture that the 90s thrust masculinity into. Very few lagers now take a Nuts magazine tone with their audiences. Carlsberg, being at a lower price point than most of their competitors, clung onto it for a while. Now we welcome them to the world of aspirational advertising. And what better face for it than suave Mads Mikkelsen cycling through a series of chic locations?

Brand: Lucozade
Title: Anthony Joshua
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Christopher Hewitt
Production Company Producer: Adam Evans
Director of Photography: Matthias Rudh
Ad Agency: Grey London
Creative Director: Dominic Goldman
Agency Producer: Jacqueline Dobrin
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Daniel Sherwen
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Jack Sedgwick
Visual Effects Company: MPC

Lucozade – Anthony Joshua

This is exactly the sort of script you want your agency to pitch to you if you’re a client with an interest in sports. It’s an emotional, rags-to-riches story of sport transforming a troubled life, with world-class star sporting talent at its centre. Christopher Hewitt tells it beautifully. As he proved with his documentary about Islington Boxing Club, he can portray the sport gorgeously, littering the action shots with heaps of emotion.


Brand: Spotify
Title: Dinner
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Matt Devine
Production Company Producer: Cynthia Angel
Ad Agency: Spotify
Creative Director: Alex Bodman
Creatives: Alexandra Sobieski, Rajeev Basu
Agency Producer: Belinda Lopez
Editing Company: Cosmo Street
Editor: Dave Otte
Visual Effects Company: Cosmo Street

Spotify - Dinner

A 30-second comedy performance script about family awkwardness – the absolute bread and butter of funny ads. But it’s done with such flair! Matt Devine has taken the simple idea, put the right cast to it and got brilliant performances out of them. He’s making Spotify’s presumably quite modest budget go far.


Title: 15 Minute Makeover
Production Company: Bootleg Films
Director: A Very Successful Business
Production Company Producer: Greg Jordan
Director of Photography: Gareth Ward
Ad Agency: Don’t Panic London
Creative Director: Ali Griggs
Agency Producers: Josh Clarricoats, Sam Adams
Editor: Joel Winsor
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Neil Johnson, Mark Hills

UNISON – 15 Minute Makeover

The truth at the heart of this film is heart-wrenchingly sad. But Don’t Panic are exactly the sort of agency that can get that message across in an amusing way. They know exactly how to judge tone. Brought to life by directing duo A Very Successful Business, who get every daytime TV makeover show trope spot on, it’s a bittersweet romp and makes a powerful point.


Brand: Zoopla
Title: Crab World
Production Company: Riff Raff
Director: Augusto Sola
Production Company Producer: Jane Tredget
Director of Photography: Doug Allan
Ad Agency: 101
Executive Creative Directors: Mark Elwood, Augusto Sola
Creatives: Ryan Delehanty, Jack Willoughby, Serhan Asim, Greg Stekelman
Agency Producer: Sarah Marcon (Royle Productions)
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Ed Cheesman
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Visual Effects Company: MPC

Zoopla – Crab World

This is one of the few ads with a genuinely interesting behind-the-scenes story. As 101 would admit, the whole hermit crab moving house metaphor is an obvious one. It’s amazing nobody’s landed on it before. But choosing to do it with real crabs rather than CGI was a smart choice. Thanks to proper nature cameraman Doug Allen, they look just like something from a David Attenborough documentary. An impressive piece of work.

High Five: April

March 30, 2017 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Risky business is good business.

The best advertising is risky and the best ads this month have reminded us of how dangerous advertising can pay. Some ideas walk a thin tightrope between brilliance and naff-ness. These five could all have been crap if they hadn’t been treated in just the right way. They’ve come out all the better for not playing it safe though.

Brand: Halifax
Title: Thunderbirds
Production Company: Outsider
Director: DOM&NIC
Production Company Producer: John Madsen
Director of Photography: Alex Barber
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Executive Creative Director: Ben Tollett
Creatives: Jonathan John, David Mackersey
Agency Producer: Catherine Cullen
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Straun Clay
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Visual Effects Company: The Mill

Halifax - Thunderbirds

Buying the intellectual property rights to some of our most beloved cultural memories is a risky play for a brand. So often the show or character in question is used to fill an idea vacuum. When used in this way, fans will not only ignore your ads, they’ll actively despise them. But the clever folks at adam&eveDDB have been respectful to all the beloved culture they’ve commandeered for Halifax, and the same goes for the Thunderbirds. With dom&nic’s deft touch behind the camera, Parker is as charming as ever. A potent dose of nostalgia straight into the bloodstream.


Brand: HSBC
Title: The Swimmer
Production Company: The Sweet Shop
Director: Louis Sutherland
Production Company Producer: Justin Edmund-White
Director of Photography: Marty Williams
Ad Agency: JWT London
Creative Directors: Chas Bayfield, Dave Jenner
Creative: Naz Nazli
Agency Producer: Charlotte Jude
Editing Company: tenthree
Editor: Billy Mead
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Ben Gulvin
Visual Effects Company: MPC

HSBC – The Swimmer

HSBC have really been going all-in on the soppy stuff in recent years. Thankfully, their ads are usually made by people who know how far they can push it before it brings up people’s breakfast. Director Louis Sutherland has done just that with JWT’s understated script about a dedicated father supporting his daughter’s passion for swimming. It’s warm and reassuring without heaping on the sentimentality too thick – the sort of believable relationship that idealised advert characters rarely seem to demonstrate.


Brand: Nike
Title: Made Of
Production Company: Riff Raff
Director: David Wilson
Production Company Producer: Cathy Hood
Director of Photography: Benoit Soler
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam
Creative Directors: Mark Bernath, Eric Quennoy
Creatives: Vasco Vicente, Evgeny Primachenko
Agency Producers: Soey Lim, Karen Whitehouse
Editor: Govert Janse
Music Company: MassiveMusic
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Alex Nicholls-Lee
Visual Effects Company: MPC

Nike – Made Of

It turns out ‘femvertising’ wasn’t just a phase. It’s an awakening. Brands must demonstrate their passion for equality now, or face being held accountable for their silence. What began in the West is now global, and it’s amazing to see something like this coming out in a country as testosterone-drenched as Russia. Like so much of the work Wieden + Kennedy are writing for Nike around the world, this ad is an empowering short film despite its commercial origins – an active part of culture and contemporary discourse. It’s what makes Nike one of the world’s greatest brands.


Brand: MoneySupermarket
Title: Skeletor
Production Company: Sonny
Director: Fredrik Bond
Production Company Producer: Alicia Richards
Director of Photography: Ben Seresin
Ad Agency: Mother
Editing Company: Whitehouse Post
Editor: Patric Ryan
Music Company: We Are Theodore
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer:  Sam Robson
Visual Effects Company: MPC

MoneySuperMarket – Skeletor

Again, with the co-opting of popular culture for commercial ends. Such a dangerous tactic. Many 80s and 90s children will, like me, have recoiled in dread upon reading Skeletor’s name next to a price comparison website’s, but somehow they’ve managed not to ruin my childhood. In fact, the mystical supervillain’s dance moves are pretty funny. It’s a good progression for a series at risk of getting stale.


Brand: Virgin Media
Title: This is Virgin Fibre
Production Company: Rogue
Director: Sam Brown
Production Company Producer: James Howland
Director of Photography: Tom Townsend
Ad Agency: BBH
Creative Director: Carl Broadhurst
Creatives: Felipe Guimaraes, Lambros Charalambous
Agency Producer: Georgina Kent
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Amanda James
Music Company: The Most Radicalist Black Sheep Music Ltf
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Visual Effects Company: The Mill

Virgin Media – This is Virgin Fibre

There’s no subtlety to this idea. But that’s OK because it’s full of the lush, vibrant action that Sam Brown is so good at depicting. It’s a real feast for the eyes, full of familiar faces and adrenaline. It’s even got some nice little comic touches to keep it human. A slick, cinematic piece that demands your attention.

High Five: March

March 10, 2017 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Good advertising doing good.

Sometimes people who make advertising get the chance to use their talents for more than just selling more soap powder. Our pick of this month’s best advertising is a pretty clear demonstration of the social change advertising can exert. It’s all strong communication. Hopefully people listen.

Brand: Be Gamble Aware
Title: Online
Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Tom Tagholm
Production Company Producers: Nick Goldsmith, Sophie Hubble
Director of Photography: Mauro Chiarello
Ad Agency: 18 Feet & Rising
Creative Director: Will Thacker
Creative: Louis Jopling
Agency Producer: Russell Taylor
Editing Company: Stitch
Editor: Leo King
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
VFX Company: MPC

Be Gamble Aware - Online

It feels like awareness of gambling addiction is a few steps behind other similar conditions, but with communication like this that gap could very well soon be closing. The writing is phenomenally effective at demonstrating the rationalisation of an addict’s brain. It seems well researched, at least to somebody with no direct experience of addiction, as if the creatives spoke extensively to addicts and councillors to understand the nuances of the condition. And that performance. It would be hard to ignore this even while you’re trying to make a cup of tea in the other room.


Brand: Honda
Title: Up
Production Company: Colonel Blimp
Director: Pedro Martin-Calero
Production Company Producer: Dougal Meese
Director of Photography: Éric Gautier
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative Director: Scott Dungate 
Creatives: Joris Philippart, Jason Scott
Agency Producers: Michelle Brough, Samara Zagnoiev
Editing Company: Speade
Editor: Sacha Szwarc
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Anthony Moore, Jack Hallett, Neil Johnson
Music Company: Siren
VFX Company: MPC
Creative Director, MPC: Bill McNamara
Grade: MPC
Colourist: George K

Honda – Up

We’re suckers for minimalist advertising here at Bugle Towers. And this ad definitely falls into that category. With almost no music and a relaxed voiceover of only 17 words, the epic visuals are given room to shine. Of course, much of the stunning scenery comes courtesy of the CG sorcerers at MPC rather than Mother Nature herself, but it’s still an arresting picture, masterfully envisioned by director Pedro Martin-Calero at Colonel Blimp.


Brand: Nike
Title: Equality
Production Company: Prettybird
Director: Melina Matsoukas
Production Company Producer: Jonathan Wang
Director of Photography: Malik Sayeed
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Creative Directors: Chris Groom, Antony Goldstein
Creatives: Kervins Chauvet, Nate Nowinowski
Agency Producer: Julie Gursha
Editing Company: Joint Editorial
Editor: Peter Wiedensmith
Music Company: Walker
Sound Company: Barking Owl
Sound Designer: Morgan Johnson
VFX Company: The Mission

Nike – Equality

We like to think Nike went to Melina Matsoukas and asked her, “could you do us a Formation?” In many ways that’s what they’ve got here. Granted, no sportswear ad could ever measure up to one of the definitive cultural events of a generation, but the imagery she’s presenting here in monochrome is bold and poignant. It makes a fair point - the struggle for equality in sports is far more advanced than in other spheres of American society. Nike are justified in demanding that’s extended. After all, people don’t just wear their clothes on basketball courts or football fields. In Trump’s angry White America they stand to lose custom with this strategy. They should be respected for positioning themselves on the right side of history, even if it is only posturing.


Brand: Sport England
Title: This Girl Can – Phenomenal Women
Production Company: Somesuch
Director: Kim Gehrig
Production Company Producer: Lee Groombridge
Director of Photography: Robbie Ryan
Ad Agency: FCB Inferno
Creatives: Martin McAllister, Ben Edwards, Alex Gill, Sarah Lefkowith
Agency Producer: Hanna Davis
Editing Company: Trim Editing
Editor: Tom Lindsay
Music Company: Soundtree
Sound Company: Soundtree
VFX Company: Framestore

Sport England – Phenomenal Women

Sport England were never going to fully match the punching-the-air perfection of their original This Girl Can film, but this is an admirable follow-up. With Kim Gehrig once again helming, the tone is similar to 2015’s breakthrough debut, with a broad range of real women kicking ass and sweating. This time they’ve managed to get late legendary poet Maya Angelou’s voice to narrate the spot. Quite the coup, considering she’s every intersectional feminist’s go-to inspirational quote source.


Brand: Time to Change
Title: Be in Your Mate’s Corner
Production Company: Agile Films
Director: Ben Whitehouse
Production Company Producer: Nick Fewtrell
Director of Photography: Daniel Bronks
Ad Agency: Ogilvy & Mather London
Creative Director: Mick Mahoney
Creatives: Liam Butler, Mark Harrison
Agency Producer: Louise Mumford
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Anne Perri
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Jack Hallett
VFX Company: Absolute Post

Time to Change – Be In Your Mate’s Corner

Redefining masculinity is vital to combating mental health and this film is a step in the right direction. It makes an important statistic clear and memorable and challenges the taboo men face when owning up to feeling anything less than fine. Hopefully it will change enough people’s opinions to save lives.

High Five: February

February 13, 2017 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Big budgets and small budgets, put to work in the best way.

It’s been a good month for advertising. The Super Bowl is a huge deal, of course, and even though we’re based in the UK, the big budgets often end up having their impact on this side of the pond, too. Not all of the good ads this month were big blockbusters, though. Some of them were just great ideas using modest resources cleverly.

Brand: Audi
Title: Daughter
Production Company: Somesuch + Anonymous Content
Director: Aoife McArdle
Production Company Producer: Grace Bodie
Ad Agency: Venables Bell & Partners
Creative Director: Justin Moore
Associate Creative Director: Allison Hayes
Creatives: Mike Mcguire, Kathy Hepinstall
Agency Producer: Matt Flaker
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Stewart Reeves
Music Company: Human
Sound Company: Lime Studios
Sound Designer: Matt Miller
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Audi – Daughter

There were a number of Super Bowl commercials this year that directly challenged the worrying values of Trump’s America. You know something’s wrong when big business is espousing more progressive views than the “leader of the free world.” Audi’s contribution was particularly remarkable, bluntly condemning the gender wage gap that persists to this day. The film’s up to Aoife McArdle’s usual standards – dynamic, beautiful and empowering. And if you look at the comment section, it really wound up the misogynists, which is always satisfying.


Brand: Great Ormond Street Hospital
Title: Welcome to Ordinary World
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Andy McLeod
Production Company Producer: Stuart Bentham
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Director: Tim Riley
Creatives: Charlotte Adorjan, Michael Jones
Agency Producer: Verity Elvin
Editing Company: Assembly Rooms
Editor: Eve Ashwell
Music Company: SIREN
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designer: Parv Thind
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Great Ormond Street Hospital – Welcome to Ordinary World

This is a very smart and unique idea. It manages to convey exactly how miserable it can be for a child to be stuck in hospital and just how appealing normality is to a sick kid. It’s not the most fun-filled of messages, but AndyMcLeod has managed to put it across in a remarkably upbeat. It’s undeniably British. It’s not a glossy, high-budget production, but a great example of how a powerful idea and talented craftspeople is all you need.


Brand: Ikea
Title: Win at Sleeping
Production Company: Stink
Directors: Jones & Tino
Production Company Producer: Simon Eakhurst
Director of Photography: Tom Townend
Ad Agency: Mother London
Editing Company: Stitch
Editor: Leo King
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: MPC

Ikea – Win at Sleeping

The combination of Ikea and Mother rarely fails to deliver. The tone of their advertising just always seems spot on. This is no exception. Great casting, funny performances, poetic writing and general slickness combine to make an ad for beds feel epic. Furniture shouldn’t be this exciting, but when you’re firing on all cylinders you can make the most mundane products feel exhilarating.


Brand: Nike
Title: Do You Believe In More?
Production Company: Academy / A+
Director: FKA twigs
Production Company Producer: Dominic Thomas
Director of Photography: Rina Yang
Editing Company: RPS LA
Editor: Jamie Foord
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Anthony Moore, Neil Johnson
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Nike - Do You Believe In More?

“I need you to trust in me,” repeats FKA twigs in the song accompanying this film, and it’s clearly advice that Nike have taken. Nothing about this multi-sensory experience suggests the client interfered with the artist’s vision. She and the cast are wearing Nike, but otherwise it is a totally twigs’ film. And it’s attention grabbing. As a singer, songwriter, artist, designer, creative director and filmmaker, the title “polymath” doesn’t seem unjustified. She’s totally weird and incredibly cool. The sportswear giants were wise to put their marketing budget in her hands.


Brand: Sainsbury’s
Title: Food Dancing
Production Company: Knucklehead
Director: Siri Bunford
Production Company Producer: Matthew Brown
Director of Photography: Jim Joliffe
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative Directors: Scott Dungate, Sophie Bodoh
Creatives: Philippa Beaumont, Andrew Bevan, Freddy Taylor
Agency Producer: Michelle Brough
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Adam Rudd
Music Company: Wake the Town
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: Time Based Arts

Sainsbury’s – Food Dancing

We’ve been curious to see what Wieden + Kennedy would do with the Sainsbury’s account ever since they won it, ending AMV BBDO’s nearly 40-year-long relationship back in the summer. This approach is everything we’d hoped for. It’s mainstream and family-friendly enough for the supermarket’s broad audience, but feels relevant to the Britain of 2017. A music video for a rap about dancing while cooking does sound crap on paper, but in practice it’s loads of fun. The song is great and Siri Bunford’s casting is spot on. Orange supermarket takes the lead early in 2017. How will its rivals react?


High Five: January

January 19, 2017 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

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

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

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

Bupa – For Owning the Dancefloor

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


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

Center Parcs – Forest is Your Playground

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


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

Reed – Commute

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


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

Thinkbox – The Broadcast

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


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

Thomson – Moments

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

High Ten: 2016’s Best Christmas Ads

December 5, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

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

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

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

Aldi – Kevin the Carrot

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


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

Amazon – Vicar and Imam

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


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

Apple – Frankie’s Holiday

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


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

Burberry – The Tale of Thomas Burberry

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


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

Heathrow – Coming Home for Christmas

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


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

H&M – Come Together

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


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

John Lewis – Buster the Boxer

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


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

Marks & Spencer – Christmas With Love

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


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

McDonald’s – Juliette the Doll

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


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

Waitrose – Coming Home

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


High Five: October

October 11, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

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

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

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

Lurpak – Game On, Cooks

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


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

Maltesers – New Boyfriend

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


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

Three – Maisie Williams vs Blackspots

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


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

Virgin Atlantic – Get Out of Office

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


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

Yorkshire Building Society – Outgrown Your Home

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