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High Five: The Art of Subtlety


Cathleen O’Conor Stern, partner and executive producer at REVERIE Content, picks five projects that succeed in true engagement with more indistinct approaches

High Five: The Art of Subtlety

Some of my favourite ads are ones that don't hit you over the head with the product or service that they are advertising. They don't adhere to the rule of featuring the product in the first few frames. They focus on story, emotion, visual interest, and all have a reveal and sense of surprise. These ads draw you in and capture your attention because you are not quite sure what is going on - is it an ad, is it a music video, is it a short film, what is the product? There have been many brands that have embraced the art of the subtle reveal or even going so far as not even featuring the product, but there are a few that have stuck with me over the years. I wanted to share just a few of the many that I love for their embrace of not hitting the viewer over the head with what is being advertised. It is the art of subtlety that is sometimes forgotten today when we have limited bandwidth for true engagement...

Saturn - 'Sheet Metal'

Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Production: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Noam Murro
Post: Bikini Editorial
Composer: Gregory Czerkinsky

A car commercial without a car featured is rare. Saturn, Goodby Silverstein, and Noam pushed the boundaries of traditional car advertising by allowing us to literally see inside cars and feature the people who drive them in a choreographed and stylised visually emotional piece for the brand.

Epuron - 'The Wind'

Agency: Nordpol Hamburg
Production: Paranoid
Director: Vikings

The personification of wind for Epuron by the Vikings is one of my all-time favourite ads. It’s a beautifully simple metaphor of a misfit that doesn't belong.

P&G - 'Thank You, Mom'

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy
Production: Anonymous Content
Director: Alejandro Iñarritu
Post: Joint Editorial

When an ad moves me to tears each time I see it no matter how many times I have seen it, I know it is emotionally powerful in a very authentic and real way. I have been shedding tears over this one by Alejandro for years. The ad is as subtle in what it is promoting as the beautiful heroes it celebrates.

Sony Bravia - 'Balls'

Agency: Fallon
Production: MJZ
Director: Nicolai Fugslig

This one is so fun and magical that it will always stick in my mind. The production aspect was massive, and beautifully executed by Nicoli, but beyond that, how did they do so much of that in-camera aspect!? It will be the forever visually wonderful, fun film that elevates a childhood toy into a visual metaphor in an epic way.

Mattel's Pictionary - 'Fish'

Agency: LOLA MullenLowe
Production: Blur
Director: This Is FeLo

There is nothing better than an ad that keeps the audience guessing. This one allows us to guess along with it which is exactly what you do when playing the product it is promoting. It's a fun ride in many settings that draws beautiful parallels to the game itself.


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REVERIE, Wed, 09 Nov 2022 12:30:05 GMT