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My Favourite James Rouse Commercials

This is another in the ACES series of featuring commercial filmmakers and directors that I admire for their dedicated craftsmanship in bringing creative concepts and storylines to filmic life that enthrall viewers and motivate well-earned accolades from the Advertising Communications Industry.

James Rouse

For me James Rouse as the quintessential definition of a storytelling director as few equals.

On Campaign’s website James describes himself as; “A North London man through and through. I started in Camden and ended in Queens Park”.

After graduating from the School of Creative Arts he spent some time in advertising agencies as a Copywriter and Art Director. He revealed however, that he believes he is far better suited to directing.

“I love ideas but I wasn’t good at the office side of life. As a director, you’re always out and about, meeting interesting people, and it’s exciting. I found the agency environment quite difficult”.

A fortuitous beginning to a highly successful filmmaking and directing career was his debut commercial for Trojan Condoms in 2003 that won a Cannes Cyber Gold Lion.

“The Trojan Games commercial was more than 10 years ago, at the birth of viral film. We managed to get a script through that would never be bought by a major brand today”.

1. Trojan Condoms, Trojan Games

Advertising Agency: TVF, London, UK

The ‘Trojan Games’ commercials have been viewed by over 62 million people since their launch in 2003. Some online communication specialists believe that the actual figure to date is more than likely three time that.

Besides winning a Cannes Cyber Gold Lion, the campaign also won 3 British Television Advertising Awards, the IAB award for Best Online Creative of The Year and Gold at the EPICA awards.

2. Marmite, The Gene Project

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London, UK

The agency based their consumer insight on the results of a scientific study they comissioned that found that food taste preferences are usually genetically defined. This sparked the idea of ‘gene testing’ to test whether people were either born haters or lovers of Marmite.

James Rouse directed this amusing and very witty ‘Love it or hate It’ commercial as part of an integrated campaign that also offered fun Marmite gene testing kits for people to determine if they if they were indeed born haters or losers.

The many awards won by the campaign include a Cannes Gold Lion and a Grand Clio in Integrated.


3. International Red Cross, Hope

Advertising Agency: Sra.Rushmore, Madrid, Spain

James Rouse directed this powerful and emotive story that highlights what health workers suffer 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.

4. Volkswagen, Baby

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London, UK

James Rouse describes this commercial about Volkswagen’s ‘Start Stop Technology’ that saves fuel by automatically switching of whenever a driver stops, as one of the most challenging directing assignments he has faced to achieve the desired outcome.

But succeed he most definitely did winning many accolades that included a Eurobest Gold award for Direction and a Eurobest Direction Grand Prix.

 The soundtrack song ‘Go To Sleep My Darling Baby’ is by ‘The DeZurik Sisters’.

5. Xerox, Brother Dominic

Advertising Agency: Y&R, New York, USA

Thirty odd years ago Xerox aired a commercial during the live TV coverage of the USA Super Bowl Football Championships about a Brother Dominic that was hugely popular with viewers of all ages.

The commercial became an Advertising Hall of Fame classic. James Rouse directed this return of the famous Brother Dominic to launch the new Xerox advertising theme of ‘Set The Page Free’.

Stellar performances by the cast and great direction makes this charming story a joy to view.

6. Maille, Be Remembered For The Right Reasons

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London, UK

This online commercial for Maille French Mustard about a conversation at a Christmas dinner party, brilliantly directed by James Rouse, is a great favourite of mine.

The added bonus of Joanna Lumley providing the ‘voice-over’ in this Advertising Producers Association (APA) Show Winner is an absolute treat.

7. Harvey Nichols, Sorry, I Spent It On Myself

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London

The following commercial, superbly directed by James Rouse, is a tongue-in cheek story and part of a clever, excellently crafted, integrated advertising and marketing campaign.

The insightful truth is that one may sometimes be reluctant about spending money on gifts for family and cautious about being too generous, but have no such qualms when buying a Christmas gift for one’s self.

At the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, the Harvey Nichols campaign won an Integrated Grand Prix, a Film Grand Prix, a Press Grand Prix and a Promo & Activation Grand Prix, making it one of the most awarded campaigns in the festival’s history.

8. Evian, Baby Bay

Advertising Agency: BETC Euro RSCG, Paris

Filmed in South Africa and directed by James Rouse, the commercial builds on Evian’s hugely successful ‘Live Young’ theme.

It motivated 123 million views on YouTube in the first weeks of airing and won a Gold Epica award and a Gold LIA (London International Awards).

The story features Actor Robin Clive and a music soundtrack of the Beach Boys’ ‘Kokoma’ by the French-Israeli folk pop duo Lilly Wood & the Prick.

9. Samsung EcoBubble Washing Machine, Bear Surprise

Advertising Agency: The Viral Factory, London

Filmed in Manning Park, British Columbia, Canada, and directed by James Rouse, this is a highly entertaining commercial that rapidly amassed well over ten million YouTube views within a week and countless downloads.

10. Sainsbury’s, Mog’s Christmas Calamity

 Advertising Agency: AMC BBDO, London

Directed by James Rouse and aided by visual effects studio Framestore, Mog the cat takes center stage in this emotive story.

Mog is a much loved character created by storybook writer Judith Kerr. He comes to entertaining life in this commercial in aid of supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, ‘Save The Children’ initiative.

The moral of the story, which is about community spirit, motivated 18 million YouTube views in the first two weeks of its online release.