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Love of the Illustrator’s Art of Animation

The pioneer of the illustrator’s art that became known as ‘animation’, was of course Walt Disney, who became the record holder of 22 Oscars. The most awards in the history of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, ever to be won by one man.

Walt Disney’s first animation short film, was his groundbreaking 1928 Steamboat Willie ‘cartoon’, that in simple black and white line-art, introduced his famous Mickey Mouse character, that was destined to become, the pre-eminent, most universally recognised figure of all time. 

1. Mickey Mouse, 90 Years On

Marketing Strategy Consultancy, The Value Engineers, London, UK, in 2018 produced a fun video marking the 90th birthday of Walt Disney Studio’s Mickey Mouse, and his development from an animation character to a brand icon of global stature.

2. Coca-Cola, Happiness Factory

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Animation Production Company: Psyop, New York, USA

Post Production and VFX Studios: Psyop, New York, USA

Sound Design and Music Studios: Amber, New York, USA

Directed by Psyop’s founders and filmmaking duo of Todd Mueller & Kylie Matulick, Wieden& Kennedy Amsterdam’s 2009 addition to the Emmy award-winning Coca-Cola ‘Happiness Factory’ series of commercials, which started in 2006, features the fantastical Coca-Cola making characters, of a magical ‘factory’ inside a vending machine, in an award-winning animation extravaganza, of extraordinary delight.

3. Melbourne Metro Rail, Dumb Ways To Die

Advertising Agency: McCann, Melbourne, Australia

McCann’s animated, public safety commercial for Melbourne’s Metro Rail was an advertising game changer in 2012, that brought the motivational effectives of animation in advertising communication, to renewed global attention.

‘Dumb Ways To Die’ was the most awarded campaign ever, in the history of The Cannes International Festival of Creativity, winning a record breaking 5 Grand Prix awards, 18 Gold Lions, 3 Silvers, and 2 Bronzes.

After being released online, the commercial motivated over 50 million views in less than two weeks, and the soundtrack song, written by McCann’s Executive Creative Director John Mescall, and composed and performed by Australia’s Cat Empire, and Tinpan Orange bands, rocketed to the top 10 on Apple’s Australian iTunes charts, within 24 hours.

Further campaign integration initiatives, led to the development and publishing of Video games, by globally renowned Playside Studios in Melbourne, inviting players to avoid the dangerous activities engaged by the featured ‘Dumb Ways To Die’ animation characters, conceived by Creative Director Patrick Baron, internationally renowned illustrator, designer, director, and animator, Julian Frost, and producer Cinnamon Darvall.

The campaign’s multimedia strategy greatly increased safety consciousness around trains in Melbourne as well as the rest of the world, with its novel communication approach, of underlying the seriousness of the message, by entertainingly highlighting just how dumb it would be to ignore train commuting safety precautions.

4. PETA, Kill The Tradition

Advertising Agency: House 337, London, UK

Illustration and Animation Production Company: Jelly, London, UK

Music and Sound Design Studios: String & Tins, London, UK

(People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, is an American non-profit organisation founded in 1980 by Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco and based in Norfolk, Virginia.

PETA has 6,5 million members, mostly active supporters, that plausibly makes the independent organisation, if not the largest, certainly one of the largest, most motivated, and most influential animal rights group in the world)

The calling by PETA for a new Christmas tradition, that excludes the killing of turkeys, centres on a superbly produced animation commercial, of House 337’s poignant ‘Tessa the Turkey’ film scenario, voiced by acclaimed English actress, musician and singer, Barbara Horrocks.

Research by The Grocer, the British digital and magazine service devoted to grocery sales, revealed that more than half of young consumers polled in 2023, believed that a Christmas turkey and all the trimmings was “old-fashioned”, and 39% of the 18 to 30-year old clientele surveyed, declared that they would never eat turkey.

It’s time, PETA says, to “Kill the tradition, not a turkey”. We follow far too many Christmas traditions without even knowing the reason behind them.

5. 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

Sound Design and Music Studios: Grand Central, London, UK

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.

6. Honda Diesel i-CTDi, Grrr

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, London, UK

Production Company: Nexus Productions, London, UK                                                                                                          

Wieden+Kennedy’s integrated launch campaign, for Honda’s i-CTDi diesel engines, was spearheaded by a TV and cinema commercial, directed by animation filmmaking duo,  Alan Smith, and Adam Foulkes.

The narrative theme of the ‘Grrr’ commercial, was fittingly provided by American author Garrison Keillor singing “Hate Something Change Something” for the accompanying soundtrack.

Winner of the 2005 Cannes International Festival of Creativity Film Grand Prix, and lauded by ADWEEK as ‘the overall ad of the decade’ in 2009, the Honda ‘Grrr’ commercial is a remarkable automotive, advertising classic, that is in a uniquely creative class of it’s own.

It is the first animation commercial for an automotive brand to win a Cannes Film Grand Prix, and the first, and maybe only commercial to date, to promote a diesel engine without showing a brand model.   

Honda’s overall sales of their i-CTDi diesel engines in the United Kingdom increased by 35%, which in a highly competitive automotive market, was a dream result for Honda.

7. Spanish National Lottery, Justino

Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Madrid, Spain

Production Companies: Blur Films, Madrid, Spain, Passion Pictures, London, UK, and Against-all-odds, Stockholm, Sweden

Animation Studio: Milford Film & Animation, Stockholm, Sweden

Compelling lottery commercials of heart-warming selflessness and caring are aplenty. For animation lovers however, the integrated advertising campaign for Spain’s national lottery, ‘Anuncio Loteria de Navidad’ featuring the ‘Justino’ short film, is enduringly hard to beat for emotive impact.

The multi award-winning commercial, that includes a Cannes Lions Cyber Grand Prix and an Effie Grand Prix in Spain in 2016, was directed by Against-all-odds in Milford Film & Animation’s Stockholm studio.

Leo Burnett’s inspired scenario, about a lonely night-watchman at a mannequin factory, who shares a lottery ticket with named recipients for any fortuitous prize-winning money, is a superbly crafted animation gem of timeless viewing enjoyment, featuring a stirring soundtrack of “Nuvole Bianche” by Italian pianist and composer, Ludovico Einaudi.

8. 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 English singer-songwriter and actress, Lily Allan, is one of Britain’s all time festive-season family favourites.

Directed by Blinkink’s filmmakers Elliot Dear and 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.

9. Chipotle Mexican Grill, The Scarecrow

Advertising Agency: CAA (Creative Arts Agency), Los Angeles, USA

Production Company: Nexus Interactive and Animation Studio, Los Angeles, California, USA

To cultivate a better world by ending factory farming, CAA Advertising Agency conceived an integrated online campaign involving an animation short film, and an interactive App-based game, titled ‘The Scarecrow’.

The enterprising initiative was brought to life by multimedia filmmakers, Nexus director John Kelly, storyteller Limbert Fabian, and illustrator Brandon Oldenburg.

The film soundtrack features a haunting cover of the song “Pure Imagination” from the movie ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ performed by American singer-songwriter, Fiona Apple.

The excellently crafted campaign won over 600 awards that included a Cannes PR Grand Prix and a Cannes Cyber Grand Prix.

Attesting to the alluring power of storytelling animation, ‘The Scarecrow’ in its first month, motivated 18.4 million conversations across 17 social platforms, and over 650,000 participators of the App-based game.

10. BC Dairy Association Canada, T-Rex

Advertising Agency: DDB, Vancouver, Canada

Animation and Special Effects: Screen Scene, Dublin, Ireland

Although millions of years separate dinosaurs and cavemen, and they never co-existed, imagining a world in which they did, can be great fun.

T-Rex’ and ‘Raptor’ are two hilarious commercials from BC Dairy’s ‘Survival of The Fittest’ campaign series of animated vignettes, directed by filmmaker Ruairi Robinson.