My Favourite Johnny Green Commercials
This is another in the globally popular ACES series of featuring commercial film 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.
Born in Manchester, England, he attended Saint Martin’s School of Art in London after which he enrolled at the Slade School of Fine Arts.
He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Theater Design and worked as a stage manager before becoming an art department assistant in TV commercial production. After that, he worked as a production designer for 12 years.
‘Nyemkas Dream’, an impressive documentary Johnny Green made about two Mongolian brothers who had built motorbikes from spare parts and raced on ice tracks, became a highly successful springboard for him to commercial filmmaking, directing, and much advertising industry acclaim.
1. Jean-Paul Gaultier, On The Docks
Advertising Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Paris
Johnny Green directed this cinematic love story for fashion designer Jean-Paul Gautier’s ‘Le Male and ‘Classique’ cologne ranges.
Starring Jarrod Scott and Ten Haken, it is a visually driven story of breathtaking imagery accompanied by a resonant soundtrack of ‘Casta Diva’ from Bellini’s ‘Norma’.
2. Under Armour, Misty Copeland
Advertising Agency: Droga5, New York, USA
Soundtrack: A new version of ‘King
Superbly directed by Johnny Green, the commercial stars Misty Copeland who became the first African American women to be promoted to principal dancer in American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history.
Misty’s exemplary resilience and dedication formed part of Under Armour’s ‘I Will What I Want’ integrated campaign, honouring women with the self-empowering, inner-strength to achieve their goals.
The soundtrack features ‘Rides’ by American singer-songwriter, musician, and actress Cat Power.
3. Hennessy Gognac, Manny Pacquiao’s Wild Rabbit
Advertising Agency: Droga5, New York, USA
Directed by Johnny Green, this ‘Cinéma Vérité’ commercial, filmed on location in Manilla, is about Filipino fighter and congressman Manny Pacquiao’s pursuit of his goals and aspirations in the ‘What’s Your Wild Rabbit?’ integrated communication Hennessy campaign.
Cognac in France, the famous birthplace of Hennessey, is also known for its free-roaming wild rabbits, that intriguingly are hardly ever seen.
Their almost magical ability to remain elusive has over time developed into a local folklore about a Cognac ‘Wild Rabbit’ that lives solely in people’s minds as a driving force to multiple successes.
The resonant music soundtrack is by the Production Music Group ‘Human’.
4. Guinness World, Bring It To Life
Advertising Agency: AMV BBDO, London, UK
According to the Guardian, director Johnny Green described this epic Guinness ‘Bring It To Life’ commercial as “one of the toughest” jobs he has ever worked on.
After three months of meticulous planning, filming commenced on locations in New Zealand, Canada, Fiji and the United Kingdom.
The analogy of how the famous stout comes alive when a pint is poured and environmental restitution that makes a planet come alive, is the focus of the campaign’s motivational message.
Guinness linked up with Google Earth to allow web users to “bring an imaginary planet to life” in a simplified version of games such as Civilization or Sim City called “Guinness World”.
5. Nike Hypervenom Soccer Cleats, Mirrors
Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, Oregon, USA
Directed by Johnny Green in collaboration with The Mill special effects studios, a month was spent filming the commercial in Rio de Janeiro which was complicated by the fact that no mirrors were allowed to be mounted on the pitch.
It was a challenging technical puzzle for Johnny Green and The Mill that had to be solved in post-production using footage from several, strategically placed ‘witness’ cameras, simultaneously filming the live action.
The commercial stars Brazil’s star player, Neymar de Salva Santos Júnior, who at the age of 22 was already a soccer phenomenon, and the featured soundtrack song is ‘Rivers of Blood’ by Wu-Tang Clan.
6. Sony, Multistory
Advertising Agency: Grey, London, UK
Director Johnny Green’s exacting VFX requirements for this nostalgic Sony generations story was a huge challenge for the Glassworks studios which they enthusiastically accepted and crafted with a dedicated passion.
All the wider environment scenes and backgrounds were created in CG with James Mann creating the photo realistic buildings from archival references to construct a magical city that actively evolves.
Lead 2D artist Duncan Horn worked tirelessly in the Flame suit for over 2 months synchronising all of the visual elements in a cohesive and seamless filmic narrative.
The result is a highly rewarding and compelling, modernistic depiction of how Sony has redefined television.
7. Volvic, The Giant
Advertising Agency: Y&R, Paris, France
Directed by Johnny Green, this DA&D and Cresta Awards Gold commercial for special effects and computer graphics, is a visual ‘tour de force’ also known as “La Force du Volcan”.
The depiction of Volvic’s evolutionary volcanic origin is interspersed with spectacular live footage of Iceland and visual effects by the Digital District studios, to the accompanying soundtrack music of Woodkid’s composition titled ‘Iron’.
The English ‘voice-over’ of the commercial features this inspired copy writing narration:
“I am a giant born from the deepest entrails of the earth.
I have seen life and made life and watched it flow down my flanks.
I am strong. Unpredictable. Stronger than man. Stronger than time.
I am earth, fire, water. I was here at the beginning and I will remain here
until the end, because I have no end. I am immortal.”