The commercials listed below are a living illustration of how advertising can still be approached in a fresh and unorthodox manner.
A monotonous voice drones on, praising yet another diet supplement, as hastily assembled visuals of the gastrointestinal tract flash across the screen. A customer visits the supermarket and smiles at stocked shelves. Fueled by money from a payday loan, a piggy bank grows to obscene sizes. Ads like that, boring and repetitive, are a dime a dozen, packing the airwaves around the clock. In a world crammed with marketing communications, it’s harder than ever to surprise the audience with something fresh, unobvious, and convince them to give our service or product a try. The list compiled below, however, shows that this surfeit ultimately does little to blunt the creative edge of the many artists working in the industry. Sometimes, all you have to do is flip a couple of tropes on their head or focus on that which most people ignore. That is exactly the type of unorthodox approach that the producers of the eighth edition of the Papaya Young Directors competition are looking for. PYD is a contest addressed to young and emerging filmmakers looking to take their first steps in the film industry. One of the competition categories, Branded Stories, developed in collaboration with major brands, seeks to answer a key question—how do we effectively fuse robust promotion with artistic flair and style?
The Guardian – Three Little Pigs / dir. Ringan Ledwidge
Good ad-makers keep their heads on a swivel, always observing the trends around them, drawing inspiration from wherever it may come. When necessary, they refer to current events (in what is called real-time marketing), but they ought to be capable of easily juggling motifs rooted in popular culture, playing on intertextuality. This was the approach chosen by Ringan Ledwidge for his ad for The Guardian. The leitmotif for the ad, which netted him a Cannes Lion, among other awards, is the old British fable about the three little pigs. The pigs’ every step is meticulously documented by journalists and commented by readers online. The media are living monitors of a changing reality, and this short film is best proof of that.
Pandora – Sounds Like You / dir. Michel Gondry
Michel Gondry, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is also an avid music video director. His credits include videos for the biggest stars in music, including Daft Punk, Radiohead, Björk, Beck, and The Chemical Brothers, as well as a commercial for the streaming service Pandora. In the ad, we see a young woman running on a treadmill and traveling between different microworlds from one tune to the next. Her eclectic journey takes her from the hills of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures all the way to a visit with the swimming baby of Nirvana’s Nevermind, with more surprising stops along the way.
K Plus – Face Off / dir. Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit & Hub Ho Hin Bangkok
Filmmakers from the Far East are keen on subversive concepts, like to introduce very peculiar characters, and are unafraid of exaggeration. Their efforts are often worth a look, particularly as we find ourselves inundated with content hailing solely from Europe and the US. One good example and an introduction to the world of Asian advertising can be found in the ad for K Plus mobile banking, telling the story of a man preparing for a vacation outing with his girlfriend. What will happen when his partner’s appearance will suddenly change without warning, like the user interface in many an app?
IKEA – Lamp / dir. Spike Jonze
Like Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze evinces the notion that filmmakers can actually have it easier making it in advertising. The man behind Adaptation and Being John Malkovich is also responsible for one of the most timeless ads ever made for IKEA, featuring a small red lamp that suddenly finds itself unneeded. Using simple but highly expressive means, the director conjured up an intimate story with an important message. Lamp’s success led to a sequel, released in 2018, sixteen years after its predecessor first saw the light of day. See both parts of the project below.
Diesel – Keep The World Flawed / dir. Francois Rousselet
Encapsulating good storytelling in a sixty-second video, with no loose ends and a good punchline, is no easy task. Francois Rousellet, however, was clearly up to the challenge—the ad he created for Diesel could easily be spun out into a short film. The filmmaker subtly highlights the clothes worn by the characters, but the message of the film transcends product presentation: be yourself always, regardless of whatever imperfections or faults you think you may have.
The eighth edition of Papaya Young Directors, one of the biggest competitions addressed to young and emerging filmmakers, is slated to begin February 15. Contestants will have the opportunity to showcase their talent in three fields. Aside from the aforementioned Brand Stories, the categories will also include the music video-oriented Music Stories, and Vertical Stories by Facebook, the latter featuring the new Women’s Stories subcategory, created in collaboration with women’s rights organizations.
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