My Favourite Seb Edwards Commercials
This is another in the globally popular ACES series of featuring commercial film directors that I admire for bringing creative concepts and storylines to filmic life that enthrall viewers.
The acknowledgement of their exemplary filmmaking craftsmanship with accolades and awards by the Advertising Communication industry, are all well deserved.
British Director Seb Edwards had a early introduction to the film industry when at the age of 8 he starred in John Boormans’s feature film ‘Hope and Glory’ about a young boy’s adventures during World War II’s London blitz.
After graduating in Fine Arts from the University of Leeds, Seb enrolled at New York University’s School of Film, after which he returned to London, launched his career in commercial filmmaking, and became one of the world’s leading directors.
He is widely known and lauded for his cinematic, aesthetically impactful and emotive storytelling expertise.
1. Lacoste, Timeless
Advertising Agency: BETC, Paris, France
The Lacoste French clothing company was founded in 1933 by prominent knitwear factory owner Andre Gillier, and tennis player Rene Lacoste, known as the crocodile on court.
Superbly directed by Seb Edwards, the short story is a ‘time-jump’ through 80 years of history during which Lacoste evolved from a sports brand to a fashion brand.
Aided by a great soundtrack featuring Max Richter’s song ‘November’, the commercial makes for very rewarding viewing of ‘what makes life beautiful’.
2. Lacoste, The Big Leap
Advertising Agency: BETC, Paris, France
The story about a budding romance and that emotional ‘leap’ to the first kiss and falling deeply in love, is a wonderful visual mix of metaphor and reality.
Directed with emotive resonance by Seb Edwards, the soundtrack features the epic Flume remix of ‘You & Me’ by Disclosure ft. Eliza Doolittle.
3. Santos de Cartier, The Thrill
Advertising Agency: Publicis 133, Paris, France
The classic Cartier Santos wristwatch is dedicated to the memory of Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian inventor and aviation pioneer who spent most of his adult life Paris dedicated to aeronautical study and aviation design.
In Brazil Santos-Dumont is believed to have created the world’s first practical airplane and is fervently regarded as a national hero.
His Demoiselle monoplane did indeed make aviation history with its 15 kW air-cooled engine, and a wire-braced wing mounted above an open-framed fuselage built of bamboo.
The pilot’s seat was below the wing and between the main wheels of the undercarriage. Flight controls consisted of wing warping and a tail unit, that functioned both as elevator and rudder.
In 1940 Alberto complained to his friend Louis Cartier about the difficulty of checking his pocket watch during flight.
To solve the problem, Cartier inventively created his first men’s wristwatch so that Alberto could check his flight-times while keeping both hands on the controls.
The compelling visual dramatisation of the ‘Santos de Cartier’ commercial by director Seb Edwards, stars actor Jake Gyllennhaal in a surreal dream about the thrilling freedom of flight that is Alberto Santos-Dumont’s lasting legacy.
The soundtrack features the music of Fyfe & Iskra Strings titled ‘Peaks’.
4. John Lewis & Partners, The Boy and The Piano
Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London
Seb Edwards directed the London agency’s tenth festive season campaign for the John Lewis & Partners retail store chain.
The excellently crafted storyline is about the power a thoughtful, loving Christmas gift has to be inspiringly formative, and influence a young child’s future direction in life.
The commercial stars Elton John who looks back to that Christmas morning in his youth when he received a special gift that changed his life.
He described the commercial as; “a lovely opportunity for me to reflect on my life in music and the incredible journey I have been on, and how first playing a piano, marks the moment when music came into my life”.
“The ad is absolutely fantastic and I’ve truly loved every minute of being a part of it”.
In the spirit of Christmas gift offerings, Elton donated a generous portion of his fee to the Elton John Charitable Trust.
5. British Army, Normal Days
Advertising Agency: Engine, London, UK
‘Normal Days’ is about the British Army helping to restore normal days to thousands of people around the world whose lives have been disrupted by civil wars and natural disasters.
Expertly directed by Seb Edwards, the very clever ‘reveals’ of changing perspectives are visually compelling.
The rain sequences of the epic commercial were filmed on locations in the Latvian capitol of Riga on the Baltic Sea.
6. Hovis Bread, Farmer’s Lad
Advertising Agency: Dare, London, UK
The Cannes award-winning commercial, was part of integrated campaign about the hard work that goes into every Hovis 100% British Farmers Loaf.
The tender story about a tough life involving a farmer’s lad, trying his best to earn his Dad’s respect, was directed by Seb Edwards with carefully observed human insight. The emotive nuances of excellently portrayed reality make for compelling storytelling viewing.
Rachel Portman composed the music for the soundtrack.
7. YMCA, Places
Advertising Agency: Droga5, New York, USA
The YMCA, known simply as ‘The Y’, has been in existence for over 60 years, and during all that time, never felt the need to advertise.
But prevailing public misconceptions about their mission and programs has prompted ‘The Y’ to undertake their first ever national advertising campaign.
Their aim is to change those misplaced public perceptions by communicating why, how, and where, their much-needed sponsorships and donations will be beneficially utilised.
Directed by Seb Edwards, the emotive ‘Places’ commercial spearheading the integrated communication campaign, is about America’s forgotten communities.
The story highlights the neighbourhoods where ‘The Y’ are currently engaged in supportive and progressive upliftment initiatives for young members of the community through their caring mentoring, and educational activities.
8. Prince’s Trust, Learn The Hard Way
Advertising Agency: CHI & Partners, London, UK
The Prince’s Trust charity, founded in 1976 by Charles, Prince of Wales, supports 11 to 30-year-olds who are vulnerable to societal exclusion because they struggle to achieve the necessary academic requirements, or required skills, for securing a self-empowering future.
The Trust’s free programs are designed to provide stability in young people’s lives with self-empowering opportunities for acquiring employable practical skills, to make the light at the end of any chosen tunnel, burn brightly with ambitious confidence.
Compellingly directed by Seb Edwards, the ‘Learn The Hard Way’ commercial is part of the Trust’s integrated communication campaign to urge employers to look at young people from troubled or disadvantaged backgrounds with unbiased eyes, and recognise the asset potential of the skills they have to offer.
9. Volvo XC70, Made By Sweden
Advertising Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors, Gothenburg, Sweden
For me this scenic commercial directed by Seb Edwards with such alluring pathos, is thought provoking.
Professional Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, widely regarded as one of the best strikers of his generation, stars in a personifying analogy that he, like Volvo, have been ‘made’ by the geographical and climatic characteristics of Sweden that moulds and defines the character of its inhabitants and their successful endurance.