High Five in association withThe Immortal Awards

High Five: Ben Strebel

Production Company
London, UK
Ben Strebel, director at Biscuit Filmworks, depicts the importance of building emotional connection in ads by choosing five of his personal favourites that succeeded in doing so

At the moment, so much of what we see is pure visual spectacle rather than concise storytelling and poignant filmmaking. When I watch an ad, I don’t judge it based on how beautifully it’s shot - that’s a bonus - but it’s secondary to how it makes me feel. Casting is always paramount in achieving this. Visual grammar and technique can of course serve to enhance and communicate a feeling or truth, and when that’s done right, in combination with emotive storytelling, it’s magic. NB: The below are in no particular order, I love them all...

Stella Artois - 'Last Orders'

Agency: Lowe London
Production: Academy Films
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Post: MPC

This is storytelling at its best. No gimmicks or tricks, just a brilliant short story in beautifully cinematic language - with a little twist. The casting is absolutely perfect here also. Stella Artois were so clever in creating a series of ads - of which this is one - that have such a distinctive feel, so much so that you would recognise it as Stella before you’d even seen a beer being held by a character.

Cadbury - 'Mum’s Birthday'

Agency: VCCP
Production: Academy Films
Director: Frederic Planchon
Post: MPC
Sound: Wave Studios

Rooted in simplicity and believability, this ad (in my opinion) is one of the greats because it’s a genuine tearjerker. To feel and capture the empathy of a child on screen is the most touching thing. What a script! The pace, the intimacy with the characters and the casting are outstanding. I’d do anything to receive a script like this. It’s the closest thing to perfection.

Wrangler - 'Follow the Yellow Brick Road'

Agency: AMV BBDO
Production: Academy Films
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Post: Framestore x The Mill

I love this film. It’s the most captivating road trip I’ve even seen, and it’s told through the life of a pair of jeans and its wearer in 60 seconds. Such a brilliant idea. Each vignette gives insight into the vast journey and the people they meet. Packed with drama, laughter and lust. It’s raw and gritty and unapologetically real. Nothing feels staged. Everything is observed yet intimate. A beautifully bold simple story - an ode to the American road.

Nordstrom - 'An Open Mind Is the Best Look'

Agency: Droga5 New York
Production: Epoch
Director: Martin De Thurah
Post: Work x Blacksmith
Sound: Wave Studios x Found Objects x Ballad

Voiceovers are tough to crack. This one nails it. It’s intimate, poetic and celebrates individuality. The brand is the co-star rather than being forced on you. It’s almost like a trailer for a film I’d want to watch. Martin’s use of simple, surreal visual tropes always adds another level to the realism he otherwise deploys. The casting is outstanding.

Red Cross - 'Hope'

Agency: SRA Rushmore
Production: Blur
Director: James Rouse
Post: Twin Pines VFX
Sound: Factory

I could hardly watch this film. The connection between the father and daughter is so visceral and pure. You’re thrown into a situation - one of intense jeopardy. You hold on to a sense of hope before it’s ripped from you and nothing’s left. It’s dark and gets me every time. And all this from a director who is known first foremost for his comedic adventures...

Work from Biscuit Filmworks UK
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