Ayzenberg creative director Gary Goodman explores his top picks for the most resonant campaigns he’s seen in the wild, this week focusing on filmmaking techniques as a distinguishing characteristic.

I thought I’d focus this week on filmmaking techniques and how some of my current favorite videos take an innovative approach to storytelling. Because of the cleverness of the idea and the level of careful planning that goes into each of these, the end result is well worth the effort.

These filmmakers dazzle us like great magicians by crafting illusions that bring a familiar idea to life in a fresh way, one that has us scratching our heads wondering “how the heck did they do that” or more importantly, “why didn’t I think of that?

Dacia Ingenious Productions”  –  Publicis * Poke London

First up is a car commercial made during quarantine for a brand you’ve probably never heard of, Dacia.

Why it matters: While the brand was unknown to me, I was so blown away by this spot that I wanted to know more. As a creative director, I’m always curious how something so good comes to life and what drove the decisions behind-the-scenes. Foundationally, there’s the impact of COVID-19 that makes a fresh production approach mandatory, but car commercials generally follow such tried and true methods that it’s rare for one to jump out from the pack—even more unlikely for a car brand with very little brand identity to those outside of Europe.

So after rewatching it about 20 times, I dug a little deeper and was really pleased with what I uncovered. First off, the car company has said that because they are so competitively priced, people new to the brand often want to know if there’s a catch. This led me to discover their smart engineering approach, which apparently is different to other manufacturers and nothing short of ingenious. The ad extends this thought by asking: why shouldn’t everything with the Dacia name also be an ingenious production?

The details: Clear brief in hand, the agency brought in the Israeli filmmaking duo, Vania and Gal, who had previously made the music video for Coldplay’s “Up & Up.” Vania and Gal had a clear vision from the start and put together a proof of concept test film featuring the illusion they had in mind. What’s so impressive is all the attention to detail that makes this spot soar, from the Macbook Pros serving as ground and background planes to the actors multitasking to create the soundtrack and lighting FX in real time. Note: the entire spot was done in-camera in Vania’s Tel Aviv flat in one take.

Vertical Salon – Starburst Swirlers

Next up is another clever use of filmmaking techniques and also an appreciation of how one’s audience likes to best consume media, that is, vertically on their phones.  

Why it matters: This one starts with the clever realization that the new Starburst Swirlers are their first “vertical” candy when compared to the normal square shape of Starburst candies we’re all used to. As an ad guy, I appreciate being able to land such a clear and foundational premise that everything else can be built on. In this case, it’s not an obvious observation, but I’m sure once one of the creatives said it aloud, everyone in the room probably just smiled because of all the possibilities unlocked. As one of my former colleagues used to cavalierly say, “now the spot will essentially write itself.” 

OK, it was never actually that easy, but I always appreciated it when he said it with such confidence.

So where do you take the “world’s first vertical candy?” Well, of course you’d want to construct a simulated vertical world. The added benefit? The primary candy buying demo is a younger audience who live on their phones and consume most of their media in the vertical format. Double-win for the agency.

The details: There’s a great BTS on YouTube if you’re curious to see all the details of how they brought this to life. To simulate the physics of verticality brought to the real world, the filmmakers constructed a hair salon set in a large rectangular box, then flipped it on its side so everything now had the proper vertical orientation. The actors were harnessed and wired for safety while the crew could tilt the set, notably when achieving the shot where the actor with the broom slides through frame. It appears that the actors had to master the effects of gravity along the way, but all to great effect as one actor shares her Starburst with her neighbor in the chair below.

Santa Cruz Bikes, “Get Creative With Your Surroundings” – Cut Media

Thanks to my friends up in Vancouver, The Sequence Group, for turning me on to this amazing stop-motion and miniature gem for Santa Cruz Bikes.

Why it matters: Picking the right way to visually narrate a story can make a huge difference in its audience impact. Although it would have been easy, even in the time of COVID-19, to ask fans to strap cameras to their bikes and helmets and go out to shoot their favorite trails and tricks, SCBs chose a different path. By going with a representative approach vs. showing the real thing, we are invited to use our imaginations and think of all the things we wish we could be doing right now. It’s open-ended enough that everyone can envision their experiences biking through nature, carving up trails while maybe pulling off some IG-worthy tricks. Just careful you don’t end up mimicking the 2:00 mark.

The details: The campaign was originally slated as a road trip through Greece with some of the brand’s top athletes, but because of the quarantine a new solution was needed. The solution came from one of the agency’s in-house creatives along with his brother, some clever miniatures and their back garden in Glasgow, Scotland. The brothers manufactured the hand-crafted bike, all the props and sets and painstakingly captured the micro-moments of magic.