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Why use film in 2020?

I never intended for this to be an article, it was just a question I was thinking about. It seems using film cameras is becoming more popular, and why? Is it just for hipsters and Tarantino or is there a reason to use it? For starters film requires more time, effort and money to capture a moment than a camera that’s digital…not to mention most phones these days have pretty great cameras themselves. I have a theory to answer this question and that’s because of the charm film has. The care I think this comes from several factors, the first being the fact when you know you have a certain amount of film you’re a lot more careful with what you shoot. You really have to take time and  think about what you’re shooting as you do it. I think this refines and distills what ends up in the frame. The practice Not to mention it takes a lot of practice shooting on film, I remember the first time I tried film photography, I used the whole reel, thinking I’d captured some at least a few decent photos, but low and behold, I arrived at the developers and was told that my finger had slipped on the release button meaning the whole reel had been wasted. While this was a pain in the neck at the time I’ve never pushed the release button accidentally again. The same goes for all the aspects of film, I’ve messed up lighting and corrected it, I’ve messed up framing and corrected it. Although this can also apply to shooting digitally there’s a lot more that can go wrong using film. The story   It’s all well and good what film can teach you but what does it provide to the story? Well, a few things in my opinion, one of them being a real sense of nostalgia, you can usually tell when something’s been shot on film due to the slight grainy texture and the colours that seem so much more interesting that the ones captured digitally. When I see modern films and have a feeling they’ve been shot on film I feel more invested, asking myself why the director has done this? For instance Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, well it’s set in 1969 so film helps take the audience to that period. The same can be said for Mid90s, though digital cameras were around at this time the film still has the effect of taking the audience back in time. In advertising Now what about the use of film in advertising, strange right? I wondered as I wrote this how many modern ads chose to use film and quite a few surprisingly. The surprise being fim is harder to use and when one has deadlines, clients to please and specific points to hit, it might seem like an unnecessary extra step. That being said the ads do look great and there’s a reason behind the madness. It’s the same reason as the movies, to transport the audience to another time, look at this mini cooper ad which I absolutely love, you’re transported back to this moment in history and it almost feels like you can smell the petrol and burning rubber. Another ad to use this technique is this ad for Audible, I think they chose to use film to make it more personal, almost like it’s raw and unpolished and we’re genuinely walking and listening to this man speak. In this use I don’t think they’re trying to make you time travel but rather you’re connected to a character you just met. In conclusion, I really do have a love/hate relationship with film. It can be frustrating and challenging at times to use but as a filmmaker if you’re not challenging yourself then you’re doing something wrong. Also, when you finally get that shot, that image, that moment you were hoping for it feels amazing. Even in 2020 when you can make movies on your phone and get good cameras for a few hundred pounds, I think film still has its time and its place. I think it always will. Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

Top 11 Valentine's day ads

Ahh it’s that time of year again everybody, can you feel it? Overpriced bouquets of roses being bought, people are frantically trying to get a reservation at any restaurant they can and engagement ring sales are probably booming. For those of us who are single they’re buying red wine and romantic comedies for the big night, or is that just me? Anyways, enough with the cynicism, I’m just going to get to the point. Like most holidays brands create ads to coincide with them, which can lend a lot to the brand and the ad. So without any further introduction here are my top 11 Valentine’s day ads, in no particular order. We’re going to start with probably one the best companies to produce V day ads which is Durex, I’m not going to go into the reasons as to why they’re perfectly suited to make these ads. In this one we see a field of roses and just as you’re about to mentally check out as it looks like any other traditional ad you see a couple, riding lawn mowers, cutting through the roses. It’s a pretty hilarious image and comes with a great tagline. “Cut the cliche this Valentine’s” Well played Durex, well played. Next we have Virgin trains. For this ad they’ve gone for a realistic approach instead of actors. Now this ad is on the list for two reasons, one how they managed to tie in their brand to the creative and do it as well as they did, and two, because it’s just sweet. Now whether they’re a real couple or actor I won’t think about as I want them to be real. Usually I’m not a massive fan of using animals in ads if they’re just there to be cute and try to get views. I feel like this is just doing a disservice to the creative, however, if the animal is a part of the creative or the story then I’m all for it, why not put two dogs in if it serves the story. While that’s what sainsburys did with this cute, funny ad. This is a type of ad that i’ll admit I’m a sucker for, talking to camera (breaking fourth wall style) with a funny, witty script. The video was produced to promote a third wheel deal for the big day. I must say one of the reasons I like this style is because it can be produced without spending a tonne of money and how good the ad really depends on how well the script is written. I think this one did a very nice job. This was one I’ll admit I hadn’t seen until i was actually doing research for this article, and it’s great. Such a clever idea and really captured me, I felt invested in these people and this story right from the start (whether they’re actors or not). The the twist comes, they’re not in completely different places but actually 1 stop away, literally. It’s hard enough writing a twist for a feature film so to have a twist in a 2 minute ad is pretty cool. Now for another ad I hadn’t seen before, made by Netflix India we see a couple’s relationship, start, develop, get rocky and come back. This pretty much feels like it could be its own netflix original series, it’s got a great, quirky style which lends itself to this, it also references Netflix shows in a realistic way, very meta. I like this ad, it’s got charm. While this may not necessarily be a Valentine’s day ad I think it can work as one. The video was produced to show the subtle gender stereotypes when ordering drinks and how Heineken wants to be for everyone, not just men. I think that’s a pretty nice, not to mention relatable, topic for an ad, even if it’s not exclusively for Valentines Day. Moonpig, Valentine’s day is probably one of their biggest days of the year, so it makes sense to have kick-ass Valentine’s day ad. This is their one last year and it honestly had me laughing, the whole concept revolves around whether the people being interviewed are givers or receivers, I mean the statement makes sense for a company who delivers cards, gifts and flowers but the mind does wonder. It pays on this double entendre as the ad goes on until you finally get the final reveal and a, not so subtle, wink to camera. Take a simple, fun idea. Produce and market it well. Nine out of ten times you’ll have a fantastic ad. In 2017 Tinder ran a campaign for their users to tweet their ideal Valentine’s day in emojis and Tinder would make the best ones become reality. They then produced a series of bite-sized videos demonstrating the concept, maybe just a little too literally. This isn’t an ad but is rather a parody of Valentine’s ads poking fun at the cliches often included as well as the cliches of the holiday in general. While not my favourite SNL sketch, it did make me laugh as I looked through ad after ad that seems to be identical, I thought why not include it. It’s also a pretty good instructional video of what not to do on V day. A lot of the ads on this list have been funny, or charming, but this one really makes you think. The idea behind it is great and effective. It’s a little gift shop that looks on the surface like its full of cute Valentines day gifts but when one looks closer they all have a deeper message, I’ll let you be the judge. Hopefully this list wasn’t too painful to read through and you saw a couple of ads you liked that got you inspired. Despite my cynicism I do actually like the holiday even if it’s just getting a take away and watching a movie, grand gestures and ‘Say anything’ type moments are great and all but life’s not a movie. Sometimes the best nights are the nights spent in, hope everyone has a fantastic day and you all get the love you deserve. My goodness that ending was a cringe-inducing ending. Just kidding. Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

Is the future of advertising VR, AR and MR?

Things in this world are constantly evolving and changing with advertising being no exception. What I’ve been wondering recently is what will be the next thing to revolutionise the industry as TV advertising did in the 1950’s? I personally think that XR has a very big chance of being that medium. What is XR you may be asking yourself? Well, it’s the umbrella term for several forms of reality, primarily Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. Just look at some of the brands that are incorporating it into their plans. Alexander Mcqueen, Burger King, New York Times, Top Shop, Volvo and the list goes on. Did you notice that? Just look at how diverse those companies are. It’s not just one company or one industry using this new technology, but most of them. Why? Not all too long ago using XR was seen as just a gimmick that provided numb entertainment for 30 seconds at tradeshows. Now it seems to be much much more than that, real stories and emotions are being brought into these campaigns. Just look at the Coca-cola/WWF campaign. I think this campaign had much more of an impact using Augmented Reality than if they had simply produced a video around the same topic. This is because the people in the campaign are actually ‘in’ the campaign. They’re not just a passive viewer at home but actually interacting with the campaign making them a lot more invested, and this investment is like the glue that will make the message stick. This can be said for a lot of the XR campaigns you may have seen in the last few years. Whatever angle they’re taking (comedic, emotive, etc) they try and get the audience actively involved, audiences see hundreds if not thousands of ads every day so standing out is becoming more challenging. People will remember something they are involved in a lot more than something they just observed. The Benefits What’s great about having the audience investment is there are also a hundred different mediums under this umbrella to get it. There’s VR headsets, 360 videos, Interactive cubes, AR/MR app experiences and my personal favorite, AR mirrors. A brand writing off XR as a whole is like writing off breakfast because you don’t like cereal. It may not be the right time in a brand’s journey to produce a campaign like this but I think it should be pitched because you never know when one of those mediums will fit an objective led campaign perfectly. Another benefit of XR marketing is that it isn’t just a one-trick pony. If you produce a campaign involving XR technology there’s a multitude of content you can produce other than just the main campaign. You can film reactions to it, create a BTS film, an event film and even a case study around it. So if someone thought it would be one big campaign followed by radio silence that’s not the case, as having a multitude of content to push out after the main campaign is not only easy but also very effective. The Future While this medium has many benefits I think the main thing that will affect whether this becomes one of the key mediums of advertising in the future, is technology. The tech for XR is becoming more advanced and accessible which means it’s also becoming more affordable which, at the end of the day, is determining factor. However one only has to look at the past to guess where this will go, once upon a time you had to have a big budget and a studio behind you to make a movie. Now you can do it with your phone, and if you’re talented and persistent enough make something pretty damn great. I think XR will not only be a big part of advertising’s future but storytelling’s future as well. As the tech becomes more advanced and cheaper, creatives and producers not only accept it but embrace it and consumers get more curious and excited about it. I am truly very hopeful for this medium, stories are evolving just like everything else and there’s a lot of amazing stories that can be told through XR, and I can’t wait. Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

Top 11 ads of 2019

My first article of 2020, no pressure right? During my break over christmas I wanted to get a head start on my new years resolution of writing more. So I thought I’d rank my top 11 ads of 2019, because why not? So here they are in no particular order. 1: Glenlivet – “Original by tradition” An ad I felt was somewhat overlooked last year but I really enjoyed. What I think made it stick with me was the fact they’ve taken a traditional idea, telling a brand’s story and history, but then combined it with fast stylized visuals and a tight script to create a fun, memorable ad. Well done to the minds behind it, proving you can take an idea that’s been done and still make it original. 2: Burger King “Burn that ad” Going from something more traditional to something completely outrageous, it’s Burger King’s AR campaign which captured not only the attention of burger buyers but also the whole advertising community. I don’t think anyone had seen anything like this before which makes it even better, by far one of the most original as well as edgy campaigns of 2019. 3: Argos – “The book of dreams” One of my favourite things about Christmas every year, other than the obvious, are the Christmas ads. It seems like every year agencies and brands aren’t just trying to beat the competition but also their own ads from last year. Argos really did it for me in 2019 with a funny idea, executed really well, and a classic soundtrack. What more could you want?  4: Starling Bank – “Start feeling good about money” Now some might say I’m biased for putting this on my list as we conceptualised and produced it but I genuinely love the look of this ad. Not only that but being part of the shoot I have a lot of memories attached to it. The one that sticks with me is carrying two 20kg camera batteries up a mountain to get one of the shots. Good times. 5: PlayStation – “PlayStation Now” Sometimes an idea for an ad is amazing, but it doesn’t happen because people say it can’t be done. Playstation made it happen. All your favourite video game characters falling from the sky, you have my attention, before landing in people’s homes showing how PlayStation Now can bring all these worlds right into your living room. This is just one of the ads playstation knocked out of the park last year. 6: Hinge – “The Dating App Designed to Be Deleted” I love this ad because it’s just such a great and relatable idea. Not only this but it can be shown in a very visual and funny way. It only takes one look in the comment section to see I’m not the only one who likes this ad with many people saying it’s the first ad they didn’t skip through. It also worked very well in print making this a very effective campaign as well as fun. 7: Lego – “Rebuild the world” This ad is fantastic for how it takes their product and combines it with the real world to create this completely unique place. I see things throughout this ad and feel instantly nostalgic, as I’m sure many people did, making it work through the generations. There’s definitely a je ne sais quoi to this ad. 8: Bosch – “Like a Bosch” This ad made me laugh out loud, on purpose, while learning the details of a product. Now that’s impressive. Taking what could have been made into a very run of the mill product film and turning into a great parody which not only is hilarious but also tells you all the ins and outs of their product. How cool is that? 9: Sipsmith Gin – “We make Gin not compromises” Imagine it, going into a pitch meeting and suggesting making a stop motion video of a quirky swan talking you through the Gin making process. Sometimes we have ideas that are so bizarre they just work. Like this one. A great looking video, a witty script, and it’s all coming from a swan? Sign me up. 10: Apple – “Airpods – Bounce” While this ad looks absolutely awesome, and does actually capture how it feels to wear Airpods (yes I really did just say that) what I think makes it so cool is the fact everything in the video are practical effects. Yes you heard me right, all of it was done in real life. 11: Renault – “30 years in the making” I absolutely loved this ad, it almost feels like its own short film. While a lot of the ads I liked this year were comedic, charming or visually stunning this is pure storytelling, filling it’s two minute run time with as many twists and turns as most features. I think it’s a great story, literally 30 years in the making. What I love about advertising is the same thing I love about films, books, and most things in life, it’s the fact that it’s subjective. An ad I love could be an ad you hate and vice versa. If you think something should have been on this list, or shouldn’t, let me know in the comments, I love explaining why people are wrong. Just kidding, I love a chat and I’d love to hear your opinions. Now let’s see what 2020 brings!
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