Category Archives: film

Project Embrace | #AFROVISIBILITY

Ad agency (and previous place of employment for yours truly when I had just started out) Quiet Storm were commissioned by branding agency Vine Creatives to create a series of posters for Project Embrace.

The campaign aims to shine the light on every day women of colour who are proud of their natural hair. #Afrovisibility is a reaction to the fact that Afro hair is rarely seen in any advertising, let alone on giant city-centre billboards, but these will feature in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Southampton, Newcastle and Glasgow.

The outdoor campaign by Quiet Storm features beautifully shot, powerful imagery featuring black women, all cast through an open audition, which includes a teacher, a finance manager, a writer, a receptionist, a student and an HR partner. The tag line “Proud to be me” boldly overlays these real women who are celebrating their natural hair.
In the last few years I have taken an interest in educating myself about the pressures placed on black women to change their hair to more European styles, and this is very evident in film, TV, music and advertising. With more and more more women of colour bravely sharing their stories of traction alopecia (hair loss from sewn in weaves and braids) and their stories of hating their own hair, it is a wonderful for black women of all ages and backgrounds to see that they shouldn’t feel pressurised to spend money on expensive weaves or straighten their hair, and should embrace the ‘fro!

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Squarespace: Make It | ManvsMachine

It’s very rate that I see a campaign that is visually and conceptually integrated seamlessly across all mediums of the campaign, but ManvsMachine has (once again) created something that has a strong and stunning visual identity.
Design and motion studio ManvsMachine are one of my favourite creative teams, and they were commissioned to work with Squarespace on the “Make It” campaign. They worked closely with the Squarespace team to create three commercials for their 2017 campaign: “each film is a tactile-take on the online experience —Blurring the lines between digital and physical, in a playful showcase of three iconic creatives & their worlds”.

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The short films feature fashion designer Sadie Williams, artist Daniel Arsham and chef, Danny Bowien. It’s rare that a TV ad produces such gorgeous stills that could be used across the rest of the campaign – it goes to show how great ManvsMachine’s creative process is.
This flows nicely into the campaign imagery for digital content featuring “still life” scenes, showcasing the brand’s platform within the context of its users. The brief focused on “Digital made Physical” and the visual narratives successfully convey the brand’s bespoke features.

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ManvsMachine’s iconic abstract and crafted style is so visually wonderful and is the perfect fit for a Squarespace campaign. The seamless aesthetic bridges the gap between reality and 3D (as their work always does) which was brought to life by using a wide range of software and hardware including Cinema 4D, Houdini, Maya, ZBrush, Redshift, Agisoft Photoscan, After Effects, Nuke… I recommend looking at their design process – these are a few snapshots:

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It is very, VERY rare I see a banner and think “wow, I really like that”, especially after having to design hundreds of drab banners myself, but even the design for the banner ads are amazing! I’ve never thought a banner is amazing!

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Having complete creative control, ManvsMachine were in charge of concept, design and direction, which was rolled across digital, social, TV spots and OOH. I can’t emphasise how refreshing it is to see such a visually beautiful campaign. This is how its done!!!

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline | Logic: 1-800-273-8255

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This creative mashup is a wonderful example of when music, film, advertising and a PSA come together to create a piece for such an important issue – suicide. The song was created in partnership with the federal government initiative and was named “1-800-273-8255” as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number. The song was written and produced by American rapper Logic, alongside producers 6ix, and features guest vocals from singer-songwriters Alessia Cara and Khalid. The song was performed in August last year at the MTV Video Music Awards and received a well deserved nomination for Song of the Year at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. At the VMAs, Logic shared the stage with suicide attempt survivors and consequently the line received 5,041 calls following the emotional performance.

The song and video takes us through a narrative of a young man’s life feeling suicidal, considering suicide and eventually coming out on top as an older adult. The context itself explores a lot of issues that people of all ages, races and backgrounds have to face. I think it’s a very clever choice that the directors chose when casting the actors for the video, as suicide amongst young men is an epidemic of the 21st century. Additionally, there is a cultural representation explored as the main character comes from a family that racially, typically has traditions and values not associated with talking about emotions, sexuality and depression in men.
Although the video narrates serious themes, including racism, politics and Logic’s own biracial identity, ultimately, the song delivers a message of hope. I think this should be shown to young people in schools across the globe. It is incredible that someone in the music industry (who is nowhere near as popular as his other VMA performer counterparts) put so much time, effort and heart into a project. The results speak for themselves: on the day of the release, the lifeline received over 4,573 calls, and a 27% increase from the usual volume. Also, the NSPL website saw a monthly boost of 100,000 visits, from an average of 300,000 up to 400,000, in the two months after the song’s release. Google searches for the phone number doubled immediately after April, and they remain consistently 25% above the previous average today.

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Anomoly: Dear Satan

Amazing Christmas creatives don’t always come in the form of TV ads. Advertising agencies often create ‘holiday cards’ or animations to send to clients and post on social media. This year, ad agency Anomaly have created a hilarious 2D animation, with a holiday twist called Dear Satan:

The short film is narrated by the legendary Patrick Stewart, and was written, directed, animated and produced by Anomaly. The narrative focuses on what happens when you make a typo in an amusing tale about Satan’s frozen heart feeling compassion for the first time. I won’t ruin the rest of the film!

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You are streaming consciousness: Three

Creative company Gravity Road were commissioned by Three to create an ad for their campaign “Go Binge”, which explored findings from an extensive consumer research survey around the bingeing behaviours of the UK (The Binge Files). 44% of people aged 16-24 years old watch more than an hour of streamed content on their phones daily and 46% binge because they can’t wait for the next episode. With these facts, Gravity Road created a (hilarious) short film parodying people’s streaming addictions, and despite the research insights this binging culture is constantly being discussed on social media and in memes.

Three’s deal allows binge-obsessed customers to stream films, TV shows and music on popular streaming services (e.g. Netflix, TV Player, Deezer and SoundCloud) without the fear of exceeding their data limit. Directed by the multi-award winning director Tom Geens, the short film is set in an eccentric electronics store, where the store owner hosts secret ‘Binge classes’ after hours. The owner encourages people to become more in-tune with streaming and love their devices, to help them achieve a higher stream of consciousness through activities like chanting “Stream in, and stream out, I love my device, the device is me…”. Hilarious. This is definitely one of the best UK ads I’ve seen this year.

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Global Breastfeeding Week: This Sucks

Directed by Jon Lawton, this campaign for Global Breastfeeding Week focuses on the tagline “breastfeeding is nicer than you feeding”. Featuring the empowering and vert apt song “F*** The Pain Away” by Peaches, Lawton powerfully conveys a juxtaposition of a peacefully breastfeeding mother and baby, and people scoffing messy food. It’s illegal to prevent a woman from breastfeeding, yet mothers still feel a stigma attached to feeding their babies in public, often feeling embarrassed and judged.

Jon Lawton, creative director at Stink Studios said:

A month ago I read a news story about a woman being asked to leave a restaurant because she was breastfeeding, which is total bullshit. Have you seen people eating? It’s disgusting. All lips, sauce and gob. It’s like we go backwards in our ability to do the most simple human task. Babies feeding, by comparison, is the most elegant form of the act. The Peaches post-punk track was just perfect. Loud, proud, with a fuck-you attitude. If one mother feels more confident breastfeeding in public because of the film – that’s all I want.

I love the direction Jon has gone in with this short film – it is incredibly empowering and goes to show that breastfeeding (the most natural thing any mammal can do) is in no way comparable to grotesque, slow-mo clips of mouths devouring greasy, processed fast-food.
Check out the GBW website linked above – it’s a shame they haven’t looked into a re-brand to match the bold film.

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