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My Favourite Sebastian Strasser Commercials

This is another addition to 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.

Acknowledgements by the Advertising Communication industry, with accolades and international awards for their exemplary filmmaking craftsmanship, are hard-won and well deserved.

Sebastian Strasser

Sebastian’s parents and grandparents being actors, his passionate interest in stagecraft and filmmaking, was naturally kindled at a young age, and he was only 6 when he made his motion picture debut on the big screen.

His high school years were spent in Bucharest at Goethe College and after graduating, he studied Journalism at the German Sport University (GSU) Cologne, and Cinematic Art at the Cologne Academy of Media Arts.

A stint at the German broadcast station (ARD) as an author and journalist followed, before Sebastian ventured into commercial filmmaking in 2000, and into the spotlight as Germany’s most lauded director.

He is renowned for his mastery in directing strong narrative scenarios that have earned him more than 150 international advertising awards.

They include 16 Cannes Lions, Gold and Silver trophies from London’s IAA, the New York Festival, D&AD, the Eurobest Festival, One Show and the Clio Awards.

1. Mercedes-Benz, The Journey That Changed Everything

Advertising Agency: Antoni Garage, Berlin, Germany

This Mercedes-Benz commercial honouring International Women’s Day brought Sebastian’s superb storytelling directional skills to the fore.

The film scenario based on a true story is about Bertha Benz’s decision in 1888 to ‘test drive’ her husband Carl Benz’s motorised carriage invention on a 160-km journey from Manheim to Pforzheim, and back again.

Her intention was to motivate her husband to keep the faith in the sustainability of his invention and to prove to skeptics that the motorised carriage was fit for purpose.

Bertha and her two sons Eugen and Richard left home early one morning while Carl was still asleep, and made their way to Carl’s workshop to begin their journey that became a milestone in the history of motorised transportation.

The remarkable story of her determination and resilience in overcoming problems encountered along her route is a fitting tribute to International Women’s Day.

2. Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet, Time to Look Up Again

Advertising Agency: Antoni Garage, Berlin, Germany

I love the human insight of this commercial that Sebastian Strasser has brought to life about the learning we accrue and the pleasure we derive throughout life by ‘looking up’.

It may be the beauty of the ‘northern lights’ Aurora Borealis, the equally magnificent spectacle of the ‘southern lights’ Aurora Australis’, a lunar or solar eclipse, flocks of birds, towering edifices of the ancient world, or majestic mountain-peaks waiting to be conquered. Whatever it may be, it involves ‘looking up’ for a rewarding consciousness of the world around us.

3. Vodafone, Add Power To Your Life

Advertising Agency: Jung von Matt, Hamburg, Germany

Superbly directed by Sebastian Strasser, this metaphorically visual exaggeration of Vodafone’s transforming power is very watchable.

The surprising opportunities at hand that one can grab in the most unexpected circumstances and places, is a memorably effective dramatisation of the brand promise.

4. Volkswagen Golf, Kids’ Dreams

Advertising Agency: Grabarz & Partner, Hamburg, Germany

Sebastian Strasser directed this bold initiative by the Agency and Volkswagen to feature the Golf’s safety features in a commercial that highlights the many super car brands and models that children dream of, and that are anything but a new Golf.

5. Audi Service, Frenzied Mayhem

Advertising Agency: Thjnk, Hamburg, Germany

Superbly directed by Sebastian Strasser, this cinematic commercial features a bunch of ‘zombie’ service mechanics keenly observing a passing Audi driver.

All hell breaks loose when they start chasing after the Audi and the ensuing mayhem builds up to a dramatic climax that makes for rewarding viewing.

6. Nissan Rogue, Battle Tested

Advertising Agency: TBWA Chiat Day, Los Angeles, California, USA

This epic Nissan Rogue commercial saw Sebastian Strasser taking home a Cannes Gold Lion for Cinamatograhy, and a Cannes Gold Lion for Direction.

The self-assurance of a cool headed woman driver navigating her way through the chaotic onslaught of a simulated Star Wars battle, is highly cinematic and entertaining.

7. Nissan Rouge, VR Experience Battle Test Game Trailer

Advertising Agency: TBWA Chiat Day, Los Angeles, California, USA

The integrated campaign offered online gamers a downloadable opportunity to jump into the front seat of a Nissan Rogue, and take on the might of the Galactic Empire’s obstructionist maneuvers.

8. BMW X4, Embrace The Unknown

Advertising Agency: Serviceplan, Munich, Germany

What I find especially appealing about Sebastian Strasser’s direction of ‘Embrace The Unknown’ is that the landscape transformations are integrated with so much filmic beauty and tonal subtlety, that they appear scenically seamless.

The final result is a visually fluid, metaphorical ‘wave’ of driving pleasure that is compelling to behold.

9. Citroen C3 Picasso, Left Behind Dog

Advertising Agency: Agence H, Suresnes, France and Euro RSCG, Milano, Italy.

This is one of my all time favourite automotive commercials. Produced some years ago to highlight the Picasso’s large boot capacity, the Mikros studio’s animation and Sebastian Strasser’s film direction are absolutely superb.

I love the conceptual ingenuity and artistry of constructing a dog made out of left behind items. The story visulisation of the hapless dog is emotive and very entertaining.

The resonant soundtrack song, “Somebody Come and Play”, is by Joseph G Raposo.