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Commercials That Connect Emotively

As Bill Bernbach, the father of modern advertising once famously said; “You can do the right things. You can say the right things. But if no one feels it their gut, nothing will happen”.

Sole-stirring human portrayals that in a few minutes or seconds of storytelling, can elicit sympathy, empathy, and engender positive reactions to supportive appeals, is an intuitive communication art requiring a depth of human insight and understanding of instinctive impulses.

For filmmakers, striking the right balance between overt sentimentality, and sensitive portrayals that feel engagingly actual, is a testing craft requiring considerable directional skill for which I have much admiration.

1. Pet Shelter New Zealand, Family

Advertising Agency: DDB Aotearoa, Auckland, New Zealand

When Julie Chapman, founder of the ‘KidsCan’ charity for children in need, became aware of the heartbreaking research findings that more than 50 per cent of women in abusive relationships, delay escaping for fear of what will happen to their pets, she decided to launch New Zealand’s first shelter dedicated to housing pets affected by family violence.

As Julie, who has had her own experience with domestic violence, explained on ‘The Hits’ website portal:

“For many people, pets are family. For victims of domestic violence, they provide real solace. Leaving them behind with an abusive partner just isn’t an option”.

“We hope that if victims know their pets will be well looked after while they escape, it will remove a barrier to them leaving”.

The emotive scenario and stirring portrayal, directed by filmmaker Michelle Savill with insightful sensitivity, is accompanied by a soundtrack arranged by ‘Franklin Rd Music and Sound’ Auckland, with vocals by singer-songwriter New Zealander, Julia Deans.

2. CoorDown, The Hiring Chain

Advertising Agency: SMALL, New York, USA

CoorDown is Italy’s national coordination of associations of people with Down Syndrome NGO, based in Genova.

Directed by filmmaker Rich Lee, ‘The Hiring Chain’, with resonant vocals by Sting, and the support of LinkedIn, was launched to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day on Sunday 21 March 2021, and was honoured with a silver and two gold Skyline Tower Awards at the New York Festivals.

For families with Down Syndrome loved ones, the uplifting scenario’s compelling call to employers globally, to accept and acknowledge that people with Down Syndrome can be valuable employees, and to start their own life-changing ‘Hiring Chain’ for the benefit of all concerned, will be viewed with heartfelt gratitude.

3. Samsung Service, We’ll Take Care Of You

Advertising Agency: Cheil, Gurugram, Haryana, India

Superbly directed by filmmaker Anupam Mishra, who elicits genuinely portrayed performances from his cast, this long-form storytelling scenario is an emotive journey of remarkable impact.

What at first appears to be a predictable scenario, leads to a totally unpredictable and touching conclusion.
The Samsung Service promotion was the world’s most watched commercial on YouTube in 2017 with a staggering global audience of 150 million viewers.

The soundtrack features the music of Dhruv Chanekar, and the resonant vocals of Mohit Chauhan.

4. International Red Cross, Hope

Advertising Agency: Sra Rushmore SA, Madrid, Spain

Filmmaker James Rouse directed this powerful and emotive story that highlights the suffering health workers and the public endure when hospitals are attacked in areas of armed conflict.

The short film won a Cannes Gold Film Lion and a Cannes Grand Prix for Direction.

The soundtrack music was composed by Jon Clark and produced by Sian Rodgers at SIREN Sound and Music Studios, London, UK.

5. Thai Life Insurance, Unsung Hero

Advertising Agency: Ogilvy, Bangkok, Thailand

Directed by filmmaker Tor Sornsrivichai, a master of emotional storytelling, and one of the most awarded directors of commercials in the world, ‘Unsung Hero’ motivated over 17 million views from 232 countries within four weeks of being launched.

The touchingly portrayed scenario makes for rewarding viewing and to date, is the world’s ninth most shared viral video.

In an interview with Mumbrella Asia’s Marketing and Media Industry News Website, Phawit Chitrakorn, managing director of Ogilvy Bangkok, elaborated on their creative approach:

“Our aim is for people to appreciate the ‘Value of Life’, When we achieve this, life insurance companies begin to have meaning in our lives”.

“What we try to do is find a touching human story that is emotionally honest; something that has a universal insight that people around the world understand and appreciate”.

6. Vicks Homecare, Learning To love

Advertising Agency: Publicis, Singapore

Directed by filmmaker Sheron Dayoc with impressive storytelling skill and poignancy, the Vicks scenario is an emotive enactment of how a young man’s life was transformed when he unexpectedly found himself taking care of an abandoned baby.

Filmed in Manila, The Philippines, Sheron describes Hernando’s story as a genuine example of how caring for someone can help change the way we view life.

“It will never be made of milk and honey, but we always have a choice to make it better.”

7. Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, The Parting Glass

Advertising Agency: Opperman Weiss, New York, USA

This emotive scenario about deep male bonds, the nostalgia of carefree bachelorhood and the parting of a friend to the embrace of another, for me is a masterpiece of atmospheric and nuanced storytelling craft directed by filmmaker Laurence Dunmore.

Filmed in County Wicklow, south of Dublin, the narrative is driven by the beautiful lyrics of ‘The Parting Glass’ song of farewell, sung for, and to close friends, that combines joy and sorrow in a way that is sad and yet uplifting at the same time.

Of all the money that e’er I spent
I’ve spent it in good company
And all the harm that ever I did
Alas it was to none but me
And all I’ve done for want of wit
To memory now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all
If I had money enough to spend
And leisure to sit awhile
There is a fair maid in the town
That sorely has my heart beguiled

Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips
I own she has my heart enthralled
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all
Oh, all the comrades that e’er I had
They’re sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e’er I had
They’d wish me one more day to stay
But since it falls unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I’ll gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be with you all

8. Johnnie Walker, Dear Brother

Written and directed by Daniel Titz and Dorian Lebherz, two 3rd students at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, the speculative Johnnie Walker commercial, is a remarkable filmic endeavour.

Narrated by John Reilly and filmed in Scotland, the atmospheric story about two brothers on a hike in the Highlands with the ashes of their departed elder brother, features emotive characterisations by actors Mathew Lewis Carter, and Robin Guiver, that struck a chord with millions of viewers with this superbly crafted script.

Walking the roads of our youth
through the land of our childhood,
our home and our truth
Be near me, guide me
always stay beside me so I can be free, free.
Lets roam this place familiar and vast
our playground of green frames, our past
We were wanderers never lost, always home
When every place was fenceless
and time was endless
our ways were always the same
Cool my demons and walk with me brother
until our roads lead us away from each other
and if your heart’s full of sorrow, keep walking,
don’t rest and promise me from heart to chest
to never let your memories die, never
I will always be alive and by your side,
in your mind
I’m free