Select Page

Advertising’s Bear Ambassadors

Able to walk upright, climb trees, swim and catch fish, bears have played a prominent role in various aspects of mythology, the arts, folklore, fables, and symbolism in many societies for centuries, and to some degree still do.

Bears may have lost some of their mystic allure and symbolism, but not the interest and affinity many viewing audiences of all ages feel for them, in entertaining special effects and animation commercials. 

1. ITV Dancing On Ice, Polar Bear Couple

Advertising Agency: ITV Creative, London, UK

Production Company, HUSH Films, London, UK

Post Production and Animation Studio: Goodbye Kansas, Stockholm, Sweden

ITV’s 2018 ‘Dancing On Ice’ commercial, directed by New Zealand born animation and live action filmmaker Kirk Hendry, features a performance by two polar bears dancing to a soundtrack of “The Impossible Dream” by Andy Williams, that enthralled thousands of itv viewers with emotive responses on social media.

2. ITV Dancing On Ice, Bear Cub and Red Squirrel

Advertising Agency: ITV Creative, London, UK

Production Company: HUSH Films, London, UK

Character Animation Studio: Fable Pictures, London, UK

Encouraged by the enthusiastic viewer response to the dancing Polar Bears, ITV Creative conceived a sequel scenario for the 2019 ‘Dancing On Ice’ promotional commercial, featuring the couples’s adorable cub offspring, who leaves her slumbering parents to explore their frozen domain.

Directed again by New Zealand born animation and live action filmmaker Kirk Hendry, the bear cub’s tumbles, and frozen lake slides, that knocks a red squirrel onto the ice, culminates in the chance encounter duo’s performance, of a highly entertaining figure skating routine.

The soundtrack was composed by Stuart Hancock, and produced by Vaudeville Sound Group recording artist Luke Hatfield.

3. John Lewis & Partners, The Bear and The Hare

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London, UK

Production Companies: Blinkink, London, UK, in collaboration with multi-media studios Hornet, New York, USA

The 2013, Creative Effectiveness Cannes Gold Lion, ‘The Bear and The Hare’ John Lewis Christmas commercial, with its evocative soundtrack of ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ by Lily Allan, is one of Britain’s all time festive-season family favourites.

Directed by Elliot Dear & Yves Geleyn, with animation character designers and 2D supervisors Aaron Blaise and Dominic Carola, the heartwarming ‘Bear and Hare’ narrative involved an innovative combination of hand-drawn animation, that took six months to create, and 2D stop-frame modelling.

4. John West Salmon, Fighting Bear

Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, London, UK

Production Company: Spectre, London, UK

Filmed on the banks of the River Dee in the Scottish Highlands, this famously amusing Cannes Gold Lion, Clio TV/Cinema Gold, and British Television Advertising (BTA) Best Commercial of the Year winner of 2001, directed by filmmaker Daniel Kleinman, was an early viral advertising success story. 

The Viral Company’s tracking monitor in November 2006 recorded a staggering 300 million online views. And even more remarkable, is that its viral success seems endless. The commercial still motivates downloads and shares across the world.

5. John West Salmon, Into The Woods

Advertising Agency: BWM, Melbourne, Australia

Production Company: Plaza Films, Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia

Production Service Company: Vancouver, Canada

Directed by renowned Australian filmmaker Paul Middleditch, and filmed in Vancouver, Canada, this cinematic sequel to the famous ‘John West Fighting Bear’ commercial, features a soundtrack of an orchestral arrangement, composed by Song Zu Music & Sound Design Studio’s Robin Hoffman, and performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

6. Nissan LEAF, Polar Bear

Advertising Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day, Los Angeles, California, USA 

Production Company: Epoch Films, Los Angeles, California, USA 

Masterly directed by filmmaker Daniel Kleinman, the eco-friendly, all electric Nissan LEAF commercial, was filmed in Vancouver, Canada, with a real polar bear called Aggy.

The cinematic scenario of Aggy’s epic journey, with Actor Robert Downey Jr. as the voice-over announcer, was loved by many viewers for its symbolism, and praised by environmentalists for the commercial’s underlining message, of taking a ‘leaf’ out of the book on zero carbon emissions.

The trade press and petrolheads however, were less enthusiastic. Probably taking the commercial’s metaphorical depiction a bit too literally, dismissively described it as being unrealistic.

7. Coca-Cola & WWF, Arctic Home Public Activation

Augmented Reality Company: INDE, Los Angeles, California, USA

Advertising Services and PR Agency: Lexis, London, UK

Coca-Cola and WWF’s global Arctic Home campaign, initiated many ‘out-of-home’ advertising innovations, one of which was an event staged in London’s Science Museum in 2013, were augmented reality was used as an immersive experience for the general public. 

The scale and scope of the augmented reality activation is remarkably impressive, and enthralled museum visitors of all ages with emotional delight.

8. Samsung EcoBubble Washing Machine, Bear Surprise

Advertising Agency: The Viral Factory, London, UK

Post-Production Company: Jellyfish Pictures, London, UK

Directed by filmmaker James Rouse, and filmed on a frozen lake in British Columbia, Canada, the commercial features a film crew setting up Samsung’s EcoBubble washing machine to demonstrate how it creates soap bubbles for cleaning clothes with very cold water.

The appearance of a Brown Bear, and the surprising story that unfolds, is indelibly amusing and smile making.