High Five: May

May 9, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

It’s silly season for the month’s best advertising.

Some of the best ads in history are pure silliness. We all like a bit of levity to distract us from the drudgery of our daily lives, so it’s not surprising that silly sells. This month’s selection of the best advertising reminded us of how great immature nonsense can be. When done well, it can be a powerful asset to a brand.

Brand: Foster’s
Title: Dry Cleaner
Production Company: Independent
Director: Gary Freedman
Production Company Producer: Serena Paull (Revolver)
Director of Photography: Ryley Brown
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Director: Ben Priest
Creatives: Colin Booth, Ben Stilitz
Agency Producer: Louise Richardson
Editing Company: Playroom
Editor: Adam Spivey
Music Company: Madplanet
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designers: Aaron Reynolds, Dugal MacDiarmid
Post Production Company: The Mill

Foster’s – Dry Cleaner

Foster’s ads have always been a good laugh and this latest campaign delivers all the smiles we’d expect. Making the most of a seemingly mundane existence, the hero of this latest approach to the Aussie beer is instantly likeable. It seems lad humour is well and truly behind us now, to the point where mass-produced lager is advertised by a grown man playing dress-up. We’re not sure about the new strapline – it’s not exactly subtle, but we can sort of see how it ties in with this idea, so we’ll see where they take it.


Brand: The Green Party
Title: Grown Up Politics
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Neil Harris
Production Company Producer: Adam Evans
Director of Photography: Sveere Sørdal
Ad Agency: Creature London
Creative Director: Clarence Bradley
Creatives: Lydia Raghavan, Tori Fannon
Agency Producers: Madeline Smith, Amy Connery, Nicola Ridley
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Saam Hodivala
Post Production Company: Unit Media

The Green Party – Grown Up Politics

It’s been a relief to see the party political broadcast rulebook torn to pieces in recent years. The Green Party and Creature have made a big impact on the format in particular. Still a fairly marginal party, the Greens have the opportunity to cast themselves as anti-establishment, attacking practically every other politician. And this idea gave them so much room to manoeuvre, adding in a cute factor to sweeten the deal. The casting is amazing. Our personal favourite is little Jez, who is remarkably regognisable despite the lack of beard growth.


Brand: Just Eat
Title: Manband
Production Company: Outsider
Director: Jim Gilchrist
Production Company Producer: Tex Travi
Director of Photography: Tim Maurice-Jones
Ad Agency: Red Brick Road
Creative Directors: Matt Davis, Richard Meson
Creatives: The Red Brick Road
Agency Producer: Charles Crisp
Editing Company: Cut+Run
Editor: Ben Campbell
Sound Company: Wave Studios
Sound Designers: Aaron Reynolds, Tom Heddy
Post Production Company: Big Buoy

Just Eat – Manband

Just Eat’s takeaway pop songs have all been brilliant. Snobs be damned, they’re unashamedly populist – the sort of thing that won’t win in Cannes, but will be sung by people around the country when they decide order a cheeky takeaway on a Saturday night. Each has been a triumph of music licencing, but this latest Backstreet Boys reworking is probably the best of the lot. Jim Gilchrist has nailed the aesthetic too – a perfectly tacky throwback to the golden age of the boyband.

Brand: Moneysupermarket
Title: Epic Dance Off
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Noam Murro
Production Company Producer: Carr Donald
Director of Photography: Eric Schmidt
Ad Agency: Mother London
Editing Company: Marshall Street Editors
Editors: Tim Thornton-Allan, Matthew Pochettino
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Robson
Post Production Company: MPC

Moneysupermarket – Epic Dance Off

OK. On the one hand putting the three fabulous men from their previous campaigns in a car park for a dance off was a bit of a lazy idea. But on the other hand, who cares? Those ads were a lot of fun and people loved them. Dave, in particular, became a celebrity in his own right thanks to his extraordinary booty and ability to rock the hottest of pants. It comes as no surprise that director Noam Murro has squeezed everything he can out of the script, of course. He’s a bubbling font of joyfulness.

Brand: Prostate Cancer UK
Title: Man to Man
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Production Company Producer: Benji Howell
Director of Photography: Richard Mott
Ad Agency: BBH London
Creative Directors: Raphael Basckin, Shelley Smoler
Creatives: Sara Sutherland, Ash Hamilton
Agency Producer: Alen Grebovic
Editing Company: Work Post
Editor: Bill Smedley
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Jon Clarke, Tom Joyce
Post Production Company: Finish

 Prostate Cancer – Man to Man

This one is absolutely inspired. Turning a familiar situation on its head, BBH have morphed a traditional source of comedy into something delightfully awkward and new. It’s always refreshing to see a charity taking a light tone with their ads and of course James Rouse makes sure it’s believable and charming to without fault. Here’s hoping it will inspire kids around the country to give their dads similar talks and hopefully save some lives.

High Five: April

April 11, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Deep thinking and pretty pictures in this month’s best advertising.

It’s amazing how philosophical advertising is, considering it’s basically just trying to flog stuff people don’t want to people who can’t afford it. The best advertising, as evidenced in our pick of the past month, can draw on the deepest insights on human existence in order to get you reaching for your wallet. Quite remarkable, really.

Brand: Finish
Title: Heartbreak
Production Companies: CANADA London, Riff Raff
Director: CANADA
Production Company Producer: Cathy Hood
Director of Photography: Oscar Faura
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative Directors: Sophie Bodoh, Carlos Alija, Laura Sampedro
Agency Producer: Michelle Brough
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Dominic Leung
Music Company: Siren
Composer: Alex Baranowski
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Jon Clarke
Post Production Company: Time Based Arts

Finish – Heartbreak

According to Finish’s brutal reminder, there are only three certainties in life: death, taxes and dirty dishes. And the latter usually gets forgotten but is perhaps the most daunting. Snappy, hyper realistic and stylish, directors CANADA have brought their considerable talents to bear to make sure this ad drives the terror into our hearts that it should. Even at our lowest ebbs, the dishes will need doing. Thankfully, Finish Powerball tablets are here to save us, so we can get back to worrying about our broken hearts.


Brand: Guinness
Title: Alive Inside
Production Company: Nexus
Director: Kibwe Tavares
Production Company Producers: Jeremy Smith, Clare Van Zyl (Monkey Films)
Director of Photography: Jamie Ramsay
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Director: Mike Schalit
Creatives: Sonny Adorjan, Milo Campbell
Agency Producer: Greg Kates
Editing Company: The Whitehouse
Editor: Adam Marshall
Sound Company: GCRS
Post Production Company: The Mill

Guinness – Alive Inside

Less than two years on from winning at the Young Director Award and Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase in Cannes, Kibwe Tavares is directing Guinness ads. That’s a pretty good career trajectory. Anyone who's seen his short film Jonah will know he’s more than capable of this kind of film. It fits well with the vibrant, electric atmosphere the brand has been focusing on for years. It’s almost exhausting just to watch. But this time it’s more explicitly about Africa than ever. Since Nigeria overtook Ireland as the biggest market for the famous stout about five years ago, that makes sense.


Brand: Lloyds Bank
Title: For Your Next Step
Production Company: Rogue
Director: Sam Brown
Production Company Producer: Jess Wylie
Director of Photography: Alex Barber
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: James Gillham, Graham Cappi
Agency Producer: Victoria Bennett
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Pall Watts
Music Company: Platinum Rye
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Aaron Reynolds
Post Production Company: The Mill

Lloyds Bank – For Your Next Step

Sam Brown delivers another ad that’s polished to within an inch of its life. The idea of banks being there through the good times and the bad is a narrative we’re all familiar with, but there are couple of things that make this commercial stand out. The technical excellence on show here is one of them. How did they do that slow motion at two different speeds? The other thing is the bold move to depict a gay couple getting engaged. It shouldn’t be a bold move, but sadly it’s rare to see LGBT couples depicted in advertising full stop, let alone for a conservative, mainstream client like Lloyds Bank.


Brand: Persil
Title: Free the Kids
Production Company: RSA
Director: Toby Dye
Production Company Producer: Ben Porter
Ad Agency: MullenLowe London
Creative Director: Alex Okada
Creatives: Bruno Ribeiro, Luiz Filipin, Juan Chrismann, Jack Patrick
Agency Producer: Mays Al-Ali
Editor: Julian Equiguren
Music Company: Big Sync Music
Composer: Rupert Pope
Sound Company: GCRS
Sound Designer: Ben Leeves
Post Production Company: MPC

Persil – Free the Kids

This is extremely confident advertising. A cinematic mini-doc about American prison inmates speaking about their values and dreams, with no mention of the brand until the last three seconds? That takes balls for a big client to approve. But Persil are part of Unilever, a group of brands that are focusing on proving they have a greater purpose than simply turning a profit. Persil’s aim here is smart – get children to spend more time outdoors, getting their clothes dirty. It’s elegant, even if you’re cynical about their goals.


Brand: Stella Artois
Title: Be Legacy
Production Company: Riff Raff
Director: François Rousselet
Production Company Producer: Jane Tredget
Director of Photography: Martin Ruhe
Ad Agency: Mother
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: MPC

Stella Artois – Be Legacy

It’s amazing that Stella have never done an origin story ad before. What’s more amazing is that now they have got round to it with François Rousselet at the helm it looks like a bizarre cross between a Wes Anderson and a Baz Luhrmann film. It’s somewhat in the style of the brand’s recent output, but Sebastian Artois is decidedly less smarmy and a lot more hapless than the usual lager ad guy. That’s a good thing, making for a charming tone. Maybe this is the one to finally shake Stella’s “wife beater” nickname… Maybe!

High Five: March

March 15, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

A celebration of the month’s best-crafted ideas for brands.

Considering the short timeframes and pressures people making commercials work under, it's often quite staggering the level of craft they manage to pull off. This month’s best advertising reminded us of this. A combination of attention to detail, efficient storytelling and sheer flair combine to make films that convince uninterested TV audiences to care about brands.

Brand: Guinness
Title: John Hammond, Intolerant Champion
Production Company: Cherry
Director: Jake Nava
Production Company Producer: Benedict Cooper
Ad Agency:  AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Steve Jones, Martin Loraine, Dave Buchanan
Creatives: Mark Nutley, Pat Hamill
Agency Producers: Olly Chapman, Trish Russell, Zoe Cunningham
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Scot Crane
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Dan Beckwith, Jon Clarke
Post Production Company: The Mill

Guinness – John Hammond, Intolerant Champion

Digging up the inspiring story of John Hammond was a smart move for Guinness. The radio DJ and talent scout who “heard no colour line in the music” spent his life giving black artists the chance to have their music heard where others wouldn’t. It’s a welcome continuation of their ‘Made of More’ era, which has given AMV BBDO the opportunity to discover and tell some remarkable human stories. The film itself is vibrant and raw and, paired with Benny Goodman’s raucous track Sing Sing Sing, the nostalgic visuals could sell the spirit of jazz to the most indifferent of philistines.


Brand: Haribo
Title: Pitch
Production Company: Quiet Storm
Director: Mary-Sue Masson
Production Company Producer: Ella Littlewood
Ad Agency: Quiet Storm
Creative Director: Trevor Robinson
Editor: Dave Owen
Sound Company: Angell Sound
Sound Designer: Dave Robinson
Post Production Companies: Big Buoy, Rushes
Colourist:  Simona Cristea Harrison

Haribo - Pitch

This campaign idea has been running for a while now and it’s been charming so far, but there’s something about this latest instalment that’s particularly amusing. The rugby players are brilliantly macho and their performances sync perfectly to the children’s voices. Everything just clicked this time and the result is a joyful, no-frills 30-second commercial.


Brand: Mattessons
Title: The Snackarchist
Production Company: Riff Raff
Director: Megaforce
Production Company Producer: Cathy Hood
Director of Photography: Ben Todd
Ad Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Creative Directors: Andy Jex, Rob Potts
Creatives: Mark Slack, Gemma Phillips
Agency Producers: Lindsey Stopp, Sam Rendle-Short
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Jack Sedgwick
Post Production Company: Finish

Mattessons – The Snackarchist

We have a feeling this one will divide people. The script could have been a disaster. Imagine if the ad was trying to make it actually seem cool to eat the meaty bites instead of a more traditional snack. We all know how terrible advertising can get when it tries to make something look cool. But in the hands of genuinely cool French collective Megaforce, the Snackarchist has been brought to life with just the right amount of geeky awkwardness, set off suitably by Lethal Bizzle’s You Ain’t That Dude.


Brand: Samsung
Title: Unpacking

Production Company: 1st Ave Machine
UK Directors' Representation: OB Management
Directors: Asif Mian, Bob Partington
Production Company Producer: David Stewart
Director of Photography: Manuel Ruiz

Ad Agency: 72andSunny Amsterdam
Creative Directors: Carlo Cavallone, Stuart Harkness, Matt Heck
Creatives: Domingo de la Villa, Andy Johns
Agency Producers: Peter Williams, Jennifer Cursio
Editing Company: Cut + Run
Editors: James Rose, Jack Singer
Sound Companies: Factory, Wave
Sound Designers: Phil Bolland, Alex Nicholls-Lee
Post Production Company: MPC

Samsung – Unpacking

Running through some of the most important moments in Samsung’s product history, there’s nothing too ambitious about this ad’s core idea, but the smooth journey it takes us on is testament to the skills of everyone involved in making it. The transitions between products are cleverly conceived, interspersed with well-styled vignettes, and the impressive animation and VFX throughout makes for a smooth ride.


Brand: Sky
Title: Sky Q
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks (Digital Animation: Neon)
Director: Johnny Green
Production Company Producer: Kate Taylor
Director of Photography: Lasse Frank
Ad Agency: Brothers & Sisters
Creative Directors: Andy Fowler, Aaron Wilmer
Agency Producer: Lois Whittle
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Neil Smith
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Post Production Company: The Mill

Sky – Sky Q

To launch Sky’s new service for watching TV on multiple devices in multiple rooms, Brothers & Sisters have decided to go all in on the VFX and with the deft touch of Johnny Green at the helm they have created visual feast in the Sony Bravia school of epic aesthetic delights. It’s very pretty, but has a warmth to it too. It even demonstrates the product quite clearly, which is helpful.


High Five: February

February 11, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

The best advertising this month featured some brilliant casting.

Talent in front of the camera is arguably just as important as the people behind it, and this month the best ads demonstrate that perfectly. Casting the best performers for the script has made each of these commercials shine just as much as the strategic insights behind them, their sharp writing, or the directors’ talents bringing the scripts to life.

Brand: Amazon
Title: Yoga
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Andy McLeod
Production Company Producer: Stu Bentham
Director of Photography: Stuart Graham
Ad Agency: Lucky Generals
Editor: Mark Endinoff
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Parv Thind
Post Production Companies: Big Buoy, MPC

Amazon - Yoga

No fancy interactive campaign or grand emotional story arc here. This is a 30-second TV commercial built on a simple product offering – you can shop whenever and wherever you’re reminded of that thing you need. It’s a single joke, but executed clearly through good casting, endearing performances and the sharp direction of Andy McLeod. What more do you need?


Brand: BBC
Title: Educate
Production Company: Somesuch
Director: Max Weiland
Ad Agency: Sunshine
Creative Directors: Robin Temple, Tom Woodlington
Creatives: Nathalie Gordon, Selma Ahmed, Wren Graham
Agency Producer: Julia Methold
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Fouad Gaber
Sound Company: GCRS
Sound Designer: Munzie Thind
Post Production Company: Time Based Arts

BBC – Educate

Getting the tone right for a young audience like BBC Three’s is tough, but using the comedy talent the now totally online channel already has was clearly a good decision here. People Just Do Nothing’s Chabuddy G brings comedy to the simplest of lines or gestures. And with appearances from the likes Romesh Ranganathan and Stacey Dooley, director Max Weiland has proven that he has the chops to work with some of the country’s funniest performers.

Brand: Halls
Title: Tough Love / Soft Love
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Jeff Low
Production Company Producer: Maury Strong
Director of Photography: Marc Laliberté Else
Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative Directors: Carlos Alija, Laura Sampedro
Creatives: Christen Brestrup, Bertie Scrase
Agency Producer: James Laughton
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Saam Hodivala
Sound Designer: Will Cohen @ String and Tins
Music Composer: Andy Stewart @ String and Tins
Post Production Company: MPC

Halls – Tough Love / Soft Love

This double-sided campaign relies heavily on the acting talents of John C McGinley, delivering some quite amusing monologues about the two ways to approach your cough. They’re well written and for any Scrubs fans, very evocative of McGinley’s famous Dr Cox diatribes, particularly on the Tough Love side. We’ve seen the Wieden + Kennedy and Jeff Low combo work well on this kind of tone before, so it’s no surprise that they’ve turned out another genuinely funny campaign this time.


Brand: Lynx
Title: Find Your Magic
Production Company: Division
Director: François Rousselet
Production Company Producer: Aurelie Bruneau
Director of Photography: Nicolas Loir
Ad Agency: 72andSunny Amsterdam
Creative Directors: Carlo Cavallone, Laura Visco, Emiliano Trierveiler
Agency Producer: Sanne van Hattum
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Amanda James
Music Company: Big Sync
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designers: Sam Ashwell, Mark Hellaby
Post Production Company: Framestore

Lynx – Find Your Magic

It’s been interesting to watch the Lynx brand grow up over the past decade or so, trying to balance its obvious focus on a teenage male audience with the more nuanced approach to masculinity and male sexuality that society now takes. Building on the unconventional heroes they’ve recently plumped for, this script is perhaps the ultimate realisation of their brand message that any man can be attractive if he’s comfortable in the kind of man that he is. It’s a poetic film, full of intriguing characters and youthful energy, an encouraging pat on the back for all the awkward teenage boys out there.


Brand: TravelSupermarket
Title: Towel Drop
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Andreas Nilsson
Production Company Producer: Kwok Yau
Director of Photography: Jallo Faber
Ad Agency: The Corner London
Creative Director: Tom Ewart
Creatives: Joe Stamp, Tom Prendergast
Agency Producer: Sam Holms
Editing Company: Cut + Run
Editor: Ben Campbell
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Robson
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

TravelSupermarket – Towel Drop

It’s got to be said the stereotype of Germans getting up early to reserve the sun loungers on holiday is a tired, lazy one. But why be snobs about it? It’s an idea that everyone can recognise and it’s funny. Turning that central European passion for organisation into a positive is a smart move for this travel price comparison site and with incredible casting, styling and a deft directorial touch from Andreas Nilsson, they’ve created a character that could run for years if they want him to.

High Five: January

January 14, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

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

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

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

Center Parcs – Bears

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


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

Cillit Bang – The Mechanic

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


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

Nissan – Hoybot

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


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

THINK! – Doghouse

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


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

Thomas Cook – Pool Kid

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

High Ten: 2015’s Best Christmas Ads

December 9, 2015 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

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

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

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

Aldi – Over the Moon

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


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

Currys PC World - Jigsaw

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


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

House of Fraser – Your Rules

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


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

John Lewis – Man on the Moon

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


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

McDonald’s – Journey to Christmas

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


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

Mulberry - Miracle

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


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

Sainsbury’s – Mog’s Christmas Calamity

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


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

Temptations – Say Sorry

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


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

Vodafone – Terry the Turkey

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


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

Warburtons – The Giant Crumpet Show

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

High Five: November

November 11, 2015 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Laugh or cry before you buy.

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

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

Acura – The Test

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


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

Freeview – Set Yourself Free

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


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

Lotto – Please Not Them (Vinnie Jones)

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


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

Nike – Last

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


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

Wrigley – Sarah & Juan

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

High Five: October

October 8, 2015 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

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

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

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

Ballantine’s – Space Glass

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


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

Beats by Dre - McCaw

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


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


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


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

Heineken – The Chase

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


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

Honda – Paper

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