TV Commercials

“Parallels” is One of the Best Commercials I’ve Seen All Year.

StrawberryFrog and director Dante Ariola have produced an absolutely killer ad for Jim Beam. “Parallels” asks makes a simple point. “The choices you make define what you become”. Willem DeFoe narrates the story and plays characters in a duality, showing the contrast between choices that are well made, and those that are not.


The narration is so simple, and so direct. Powerful and potent. The visual direction and story build to a singular point that references the beginning of the spot, and the product is mentioned only once in the actual piece. (I’m pretty sure the full color ad slick on the end was an after thought tacked on by someone else) This spot is part of the “Bold Choices” campaign created by StrawberryFrog for Jim Beam, and is indicative of the kind of stellar work they produce. I really hope they continue with these kinds of TV spots for Jim Beam in the future.

Now if you produced a spot that is going to air during the Super Bowl on Sunday, I hope you made a bold choice to produce something this good.

NFL Timeline Evolution of the Game Microsite.

If you happened to be one of the millions that watched the Super Bowl last Sunday night you probably paid close attention to the commercials. If you were paying attention you might remember the NFL “Timeline Evolution of the Game” commercial that raises awareness about new rules and regulations that have come to be since the early 1900s.

That TV spot is the center piece to an integrated campaign that includes a microsite which features a timeline of equipment and rule changes through out the history of the sport. The timeline contains interactive objects, and highlights important players from that period.

Like the TV spot that this site supports, the end user scrolls through the history of the NFL from Lambeau Field to the LA Memorial Coliseum. One thing that I really like about this site is the way it could transfer into an even more expansive offering via a tablet based application like “Penant” for the iPad.


PMH TV Spots for JCPenny. Americana Updated.

If you have been lucky enough to catch any of the TV spots for JCPenny in the last week or so, you might have noticed a similarity to Target ads. That design minded aesthetic is something that PMH was known for in the direction of the ads they styled for the Target brand.

Directed by MJZ’s Rocky Morton, the new suite of TV spots for JCPenny have clean, colorful well designed look, that are humorous, and at times bordering on cute. There is nothing wrong with that. The spots work fusing great visuals, editing, and copy writing to complete the set.

I hope these ads are as successful for JCPenny as the ads PMH produced for Target were. JCPenny, like other established retail giants (Sears in particular) have felt a pinch from newer rivals like Khols over the last few years as brand perceptions have shifted about the quality of their product, store fronts, and price points.

In addition to the “Fair and Square” campaign that the previous spots support, JCPenny is launching another spot for February directed by Grand Large’s Gaysorn Thavat. This spot features Billie Holiday’s 1937 recording of Irving Berlin’s “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm,”as the soundtrack and tries to establish that feeling of modern-day Americana, which is what JCPenny is something that this entire series of ads does with with technicolor punch, and a bit of whimsy. Personally I think these are the best TV spots JCPenny has released in years.


Coca-Cola’s Polar Bowl, and “The Catch”.

Wieden & Kennedy have spent the last three months watching old football reels, and game play to help prepare for the integrated advertising campaign they have prepared for Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl effort this year.

As part of a Facebook campaign at, Wieden & Kennedy have prepared two versions of a 60-second spot slated to run during the second quarter. The spot that airs will be based on who has the lead at half time. In case of a tie, the commercial that airs will be based on the most recent plays and which team is most in need of a Coke.

The ad is a simple concept. The “Catch,” shows two polar bears watching the Super Bowl, each wearing a scarf in his team’s colors: red and white for the Giants and blue and white for the Patriots. During a commercial break, one of the bears steps outside and sees a group of polar bears lounging and drinking Coke. One of the bears tosses him a Coke and he fumbles the bottle. An acrobatic dance across the ice ensues until he slides to a halt with the bottle finally secured. The bear whose team is losing will be the one to step outside the cave.

This is really a cutting edge campaign. The technical challenge of managing the time-delay on bear responses, plus timing to the last-minute on which commercial will run. I’m sure NBC is not really thrilled with the idea of this style of campaign becoming common place, but the concept is brilliant.To help manage all of the back-end work needed to pull this off,

NBC and Wieden & Kennedy will have execs on site at NBC and ESPN to manage different versions of the broadcast ads. Coke project lead Pio Schunker will have a command center in New York, where a team and key execs from Wieden & Kennedy will manage the live Facebook stream and animation of the bears. that team will be located in a control room at Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media group. Using a hacked Xbox system, the creative team from Wieden & Kennedy will manipulate the bears to respond to what is going on in real time. The actions, whether a “Sigh” or a happy dance, are slightly randomized, so even the creative puppeteers, don’t know exactly which action the bears will do.

“Watching the game this year? So are the Coca-Cola® Polar Bears. On February 5th, join the Polar Bears as they watch the game and chat with fans LIVE at For each RSVP, Coca-Cola will donate $1 to World Wildlife Fund to help polar bears and their Arctic home.* RSVP now and visit on game day to hang out and chat with the Coke Polar Bears during the game. And don’t worry; they’ll bring their own Coke.

Visit on your mobile device, too! You’ll see a constant stream of real-time, shareable highlights from the LIVE polar bears to send to fellow fans, friendly rivals and other polar bears (if you know any).”

Audi – Vorsprung durch Technik

Over the last couple of years Audi has been making a push to really differentiate itself from other luxury German car brands like BMW and Mercedes. They have produced a number of commercials that pushed lifestyle over engineering, but in the last six months or so Audi seems to have reversed course.

The latest TV spot they have released pushes Audi’s engineering to the front with high tech computer graphics, a color pallet that reflects the brands understated cool, and a look that promotes the technology in each car.

Produced by Razorfish, and directed by Ole Peters this 30 second spot has a nice blend of 3D computer graphics and live footage. It’s subtle and refined and makes an understated point about the quality of the cars and the 100 year old brand. Art Director Sven Gesner nails the look. Everything about this ad solidifies the Audi brand.

“Sharper Drive”, and the “Making Of” for Audi.

There is a new ad for Audi that was produced by Parasol Island titled “Sharper Drive”. The video seamlessly blends live action video with CG to create a fluid spot for the car, where it races across a dry lake bed that dissolves into ribbons of paper  that look like highway overpasses.

The video is color-graded with a desaturated overly that washes out the color and adds a level of atmosphere that I guarantee wasn’t in the original footage. Posted below is the original spot along with the “making of” spot, which if you are like me you’ll find fascinating as well. Oh and the making of video, the production values on it are every bit as good as the finished “Sharper Drive” ad. (the making of video gets really good at about 1 minute 30 when they really start showing how it is put together.)

Hat tip to the folks at Parasol Island, and the Agency Philipp & Keuntje. Full credits are listed below the video clips.

Agency: Philipp & Keuntje
Creative Director: Diether Kerner
Art Director: Jan Gericke
Producer: Sandra Niessen, Axel Leyck

Production: Parasol Island

Making of

Camera: Charles Bals, Denis Guth
Editor: Denis Guth

Director: Philip Hansen, Danny Ruhlmann
DoP: Danny Ruhlmann
Executive Producer: Moritz von Schrötter
Senior Film Producer: Lena Breidenbach
Post Producer: Niels Rinke, Lena Breidenbach
Service Production: Slim Pictures L.A.
Service Producer: Tom Weissferdt
Precision Driver: Mike Johnson
Heli Pilot: Peter McKernen

Editor: Nathalie Pürzer
Conform & Finishing: Stephan Krause

Executive Creative Director: Charles Bals
Creative Directors: Oliver Navarro, Hans Schultheiss
Designer: Sebastian Onufszak, André Ljosai

Previz Artists: Dino Figuera, Oliver Navarro, Philip Hansen

VFX Supervisor: Philip Hansen
Lead Animation Artist: Dino Figuera
Scene Setup: Dino Figuera, Paul Dreisen, Kay Poprawe, Joschka Herrlich, Robert Joosten
TD: Dino Figuera, Robert Joosten, Dirk Bialluch
Senior Lighting/Shading Artists: Christian Wallmeier,Paul Dreisen, Kay Poprawe, Oliver Markowski,
Lighting/Shading Artists: Joschka Herrlich
Texturing Artist: Bardia Afchar
Lead Compositing Artist: Gregory Chalenko
Compositing Artists: Jonas Uebelin, Falko Paeper, Sascha Reinholz, Elmar Weinhold,
Junior Comp: Fabian Grodde, Wilfried Kaiser

Lead Matchmoving: Christian Wallmeier
Matchmoving: Sascha Reinholz, Elmar Weinhold, Falko Paeper, Wilfried Kaiser

Typography / Motion-Design: Heike Mauer
Music: Jonathan Wulfes