118-118 The Number (2003/2009) – A Real Spoof Case History

118 118’s advertising features two men with droopy mustaches, wearing items of clothing with 118 and two parallel red stripes on it. They have appeared in various forms. The campaign was originally launched using the two men dressed as athletic runners. Used with the catchphrase “Got Your Number!”, the runners’ characters featured in a high-profile advertising (created by British advertising agency WCRS).

This slogan has fallen into disuse by the marketing department of 118 118 because of the expansion of service beyond directory enquiries alone, but the slogan has lived on in the minds of the public. The use of the runners’ characters is particularly noted for the legal action threatened by 1970s record-breaking runner David Bedford. 118 118 responded to this by stating that their inspiration was partly the late American runner Steve Prefontaine.


David Bedford


Steve Prefontaine

Subsequently they have appeared in a range of guises, including spoof detectives, as the company expanded on its range of services. During this period, although generally forgotten by the public, the slogan used was “We’re here to help!”, a different focus driven by the expansion of products offered.

2003 – Rocky Campaign
In November 2003 the commercial, called “Rocky”, features the moustachioed runners jogging through London. As the pair run, the ad turns into a training scene reminiscent of the film. More than 30 moustachioed children, dressed as 118 118 runners, join the training run which culminates with the duo recreating the end of Stallone’s run with hands thrust victoriously in the air at the top of a long flight of steps. “That’s what happens when you help millions of people each week!” one of the runners comment… In keeping with the retro theme, the commercial also features a cameo appearance by the 80s ventriloquist, Keith Harris, and his bird puppet Orville.

Keith Martin, the account manager at WCRS, said: “The campaign has two points of focus. The first is memorability. With the old 192 service being switched off on 24 August, there will be a lot of activity and so it is all about getting 118 118 as the most memorable number for customers to use. The second aim is stature. By running these campaigns, we want to show that 118 118 is here to stay – that the company is taking millions of calls a month already. More weighting is being put on running the 60-second spot, as it adds scale.”

2004 – Honda Spoof Campaign
In this addition to the series featuring the skinny athletes, they created the award-winning Honda commercial “Cog” and “Choir” created by Wieden & Kennedy London, using old bit of carpet, gym mats, a stop sign and a couple of old treadmills. It’s not as high tech as the original, but it gets the message across – and probably provided a nice giggle for the advertising community. It was created for television, but Honda failed to see the humorous side and stopped the ad from being broadcast. It is now, however, available for view online and is being promoted through a viral campaign.

2006. A-Team Campaign
In February 2006 a new advertising campaign was launched in which the runners appeared in advertisements in the style of the television show The A-Team, using the A-Team theme tune with the number 118 sung over the music.

2007. Flashdance Campaign
In May 2007 a new advertising campaign was launched in which the runners trade in their 70s look for leotards and leg warmers to spoof the 1983 film starring Jennifer Beals. The two and a half minute clip features a comedy reworking of Michael Sembello’s song Maniac, which featured on the Flashdance soundtrack.

2009, the Ghostbuster Campaign
Shot like a camp pop video, the 2-minute film also stars Ray Parker Jr, who appears in a number of guises, including a postman, a bus conductor and a mechanic. 60 and 40-second versions will also be broadcast. The legendary singer stars alongside the moustachioed 118 118 brothers who are back in tight shorts running round a London street helping people out. The ad ends with the trio standing on top of a mini van singing to a crowd of dancing onlookers.


Matthijs Vlot – Movies’ Remixed

Hilarious video from the man who goes by many names: Ant1mat3rie, Mattatjeoorlog, Mattieherpes and of course his real name Matthijs Vlot. Matthijs has recreated Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’, ABBA’s S.OS. and other song using a mashup of Hollywood movies.

Hello

S.O.S (the cast of Titanic sings ABBA)

Last Happy Xmas

Ooh aah

Got Problems Baby?

What is it?


Super Mario in advertising

Nintendo – Surf


Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Brazil
Year: 2000

Nintendo – Emotionicons


Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Brazil
Year: 2000

Nintendo – Mario’s


Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Brazil
Year: 2000

Nintendo Gamecube – Evolution


Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Brazil
Year: 2003

Nintendo – Berlin Wall


Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, USA
Year: 2004

Fujifilm Finepix V10 – Super Mario


Advertising Agency: JWT, Malaysia
Year: 2006

Nintendo DS – Super Mario & Tetris


Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Canada
Year: 2006

Nintendo WII – Post-it Mario


Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Milan
Year: 2008

Capitulo VII (radio station) – Mario


Advertising Agency: Grupo Novel, Santo Domingo
Year: 2008

Chicco Control (Socket Safety Cover) – Mario Bros


Advertising Agency: Euro RSCG, Spain
Year: 2008

Prostate Cancer Reserch – SuperMario


Advertising Agency: TBWA/Singapore
Year: 2010

ADDA against illegal downloading – Mario


Advertising Agency: JWT Tunisia
Year: 2012


Friday the 13th (and Jason) in advertising

Baygon

Game World against piracy

Home Depot

Burger King

Dexter on Channel 4

In&Out (Gay Club)

Screamfest (Horror Film Festival)

Nulaid Eggs

Popeye Detergent

Renault Megane

Xanlite

C-I-O/Photographer

Priceminister.com

Regal Ketchup

Hell Party (Klub Abaton)

Hi-Fi Klubben

Science World

Showoff (Production Company)

Visa


TBWA/PHS, Helsinki for Young Director Award (2000/2011) – Born to create a great case history

2000

Natural Born Directors (Poster)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director: Mira Leppanen
Art Directors: Zoubida Benkhellat
Copywriter: Mira Leppanen
Shortlist

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2001

Highchair (Poster)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director: Mira Leppanen
Art Directors: Zoubida Benkhellat
Copywriter: Mira Leppanen

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2002

Hands (Poster)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director: Mira Leppanen
Art Directors: Zoubida Benkhellat
Copywriter: Mira Leppanen

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2003

Cut (Poster)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director: Mira Leppanen/Zoubida Benkhellat
Art Directors: Zoubida Benkhellat
Copywriter: Mira Leppanen

My Idea (Print)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director: Mira Leppanen/Zoubida Benkhellat
Art Directors: Zoubida Benkhellat
Copywriter: Mira Leppanen

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2004

Drool (Poster)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director: Mira Leppanen/Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavolat
Copywriter: Mira Leppanen
Year: 2004

Lion Hunter (Commercial)

There’s a nature program on tv with VO. A baby is relaxing in front of the tv. The VO continues and after hearing the word “lion”, the baby begins to stare at the TV with excited eyes. Natural Born Director CFP–E and SHOTS Young Director Award

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director: Mira Leppanen/Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavolat
Copywriter: Mira Leppanen
Director: Miko Iho

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2005

Alfred/Quentin/Woody (Print Campaign)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director:  Zoubida Benkhellat/Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavolat
Copywriter: Mira Leppanen

Swimmer (Commercial)

A pastiche of Tarsem´s Swimmer. The younger you start the better you get.

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director:  Zoubida Benkhellat/Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavolat
Copywriter: Markku Ronkko
Director: Thomas Ericson
Production Company: Berghs School of Communication, Sweden

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2006

Eisenstein/Chaplin/Coppola (Print Campaign)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director:  Zoubida Benkhellat/Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavolat
Copywriter: Markku Ronkko
Shortlist

Jaws (Commercial)

Eisenstein (Commercial)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director:  Zoubida Benkhellat/Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavolat
Copywriter: Markku Ronkko

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2007

Balls/Mountain (Poster)

Balls (Commercial)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director:  Zoubida Benkhellat/Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavola
Copywriter: Markku Ronkko

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2008

Bunny/Gorilla (Poster)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director:  Zoubida Benkhellat/Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavola
Copywriter: Markku Ronkko

Gorilla -Full of Talent (Commercial)

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2009

Accident/Affair (Print Campaign)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director:  Zoubida Benkhellat/Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavola
Copywriter: Minna Lavola

Dirty Loundry (Commercial)

A ten-year-old boy sits down in front of a dressing table in a bedroom. He takes one of the lipsticks from the table, and puts it on. He then walks towards the wardrobe in his parent’s bedroom and takes out one of his father’s white shirts. He kisses the shirt collar staining it with red kissing marks. He then carries it to the washing room and drops it next to the laundry machine. As he wipes his mouth clean we cut to text: Born to create drama. Young Director Award by CFP-E/Shots

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director: Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavola
Copywriter: Minna Lavola
Director: Lourens Blok
Production Company: Caviar, Amsterdam

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2010

Pool (Poster)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director: Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavola
Copywriter: Mira Ollson

Drama Queen (Commercial/Promo/Digital)


A thirty-something woman is driving a car while her 5-year-old daughter is peacefully sitting in the back seat.
The woman is being pulled over by a policeman for speeding.
The policeman notices the girl in the back seat, and comments with a friendly voice:
“Mummy a bit in a hurry, was she?”
The girl looks at the policeman with serious eyes and answers in a monotone voice:
“She’s not my mommy.”
She then lifts up a drawing pad where she has scribbled the word: HELP, and adds articulating: “Help me.”
“Step out of the car Madam!” The policeman orders strictly.
The girl looks mischievously towards the camera and a text appears: Born to create drama. Young Director Award by CFP-E/Shots


Describe the objective of the promotion.
To establish Young Director Award by CFP-E/SHOTS as THE competition for aspiring commercial film directors and to get as many entries as possible to the 2010 competition. (To be eligible, entries must be one of the first four commercials a director has directed.)
Describe how the promotion developed from concept to implementation
The concept, born to create drama, puts emphasis on the unique talent of young directors.
We felt the best way to promote a young director award show was to lead by example and give an inexperienced director an opportunity to shoot a script with strong viral-potential, and seed it out to aspiring commercial directors.
The film was broadcast on youth oriented programs, seeded to production companies and film schools and posted on facebook-sites and on youtube. To add interest among our target group, we also posted a making-of of the commercial on the youngdirectoraward.com-blog.
Describe the success of the promotion with both client and consumer including some quantifiable results
The link was sent to 1500 email-addresses including production companies and film schools. This led to over 265 000 hits on youtube in a few weeks (and counting). The film was discovered by traditional broadcast as best commercial of the month and got six free air times on prime time television, it was also picked up by over 30 online sites publishing the newest and the freshest of the industry and beyond.
The Youngdirectoraward.com site immediately received 76% new visitors with an average of 48 minutes on site.
Within a month, YDA received around 400 entries from young commercial directors around the world.
Explain why the method of promotion was most relevant to the product or service
The entry deadline was getting closer and it was the quickest way to make a strong impact and get a response from our target group. Young commercial directors live and breath quality commercials. That is their passion.
It was crucial to be a fast success on youtube, which is the place where young directors seek references and inspiration on a daily basis. Writing a script with strong viral potential and shooting it with an inexperienced young director (24-year old Rogier Hesp) inspires other young and up-coming directors to fulfill their own dreams.
Supporting and inspiring talent is the sole purpose of Young Director Award by CFP-E/Shots.

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS Helsinki
Copywriter: Mira Olsson
Art Director: Minna Lavola
Production Company: L-A-D-A, Amsterdam
Director: Rogier Hesp

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2011

Time for dinner (Poster)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director: Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavola
Copywriter: Mira Ollson
Year: 2011

Pool Guy/Grandpa/Closet (Print Campaign)

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director: Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavola
Copywriter: Mira Ollson
Year: 2011

Double Life (Commercial)

A 5-year-old girl is sitting in a swing, while her dad is pushing her. Her dad’s mobile rings and he steps away to take the call. The girl spots a couple that are having their wedding picture taken close by: they look besotted by each other and gladly take different poses while the wedding photographer directs them. Suddenly the little girl runs joyfully to the newlywed man and shouts:
“Daddy, daddy!“  Hugging the confused mans leg, she looks up to him and innocently continues: “Where’s mommy?”
The bride is in shock. We zoom closer to the little girl, as she looks into the camera with a mischievous smile.
Cut to text: Born to create drama.

Advertising Agency: TBWA/PHS, Helsinki
Creative Director: Minna Lavola
Art Directors: Minna Lavola
Copywriter: Mira Ollson

Directort: Ben Brand
Producton Company: Caviar, Amsterdam


The 10 Best Commercials to watch on Halloween

1 – Volkswagen – HORROR MOVIE

The quality and reliability of a Volkswagen are known to be extremely high. Accordingly, you will never see a Volkswagen that won’t start in a dangerous horror movie scene.

Advertising Agency: DDB Germany
Creative Director: Amir Kassaei, Stefan Schulte, Bert Peluecke
Copywriter: Sebastian Kainz
Art Director: Marc Wientzec
Year: 2007
Bronze Lion

2 – Nike Footwear – SCARY HOUSE

A little girl finally musters up the nerve to ring the doorbell of the scary house at the end of the street. When frightened she runs away by getting in the mindset of the fastest woman in the world: Marion Jones. It’s a race against fear through the backstreets of Savannah.

Advertising Agency: Weiden + Kennedy, Portland
Creative Director: Bill Grylewicz, Andrew Loewenguth
Copywriter: Mike Byrne, Hal Curtis
Art Director: Bill Karow
Year: 2005
Bronze Lion

3 – Nike Sportwear – HORROR

A spoof of the horror film classic “Friday The 13th” but with a twist ending. We see the villain hunched over gasping for breath as Olympic athlete Suzy Hamilton escapes in the distance.

Advertising Agency: Weiden + Kennedy, Portland
Creative Director: Jim Riswold
Copywriter: Ian Reichenthal
Art Director: Scott Vitrone
Year: 2001
Shortlist

4 – SWR Television Station – LULLABY

Serial murderers, monsters and horror characters from well-known splatter, horror and violent films sing Brahms’ lullaby (Lullaby and Good Night). The film ends with the question: how much violence do your kids see before they go to sleep? SWR Television. Against violence on TV.

Advertising Agency: Ogilvy & Mother Frankfurt
Creative Director: Peter Rommelt, Simon Oppmann
Copywriter: Peter Rommelt
Art Director: Simon Oppmann
Year: 2004
Bronze Lion

5 – Smart FourTwo – BACK SEAT

Sometimes it’s more secure to drive a car with no backseats. Note: All scenes in the commercial were filmed referring to the cinematic look of the originals.

Advertising Agency: BBDO Germany
Creative Director: Matthias Eickmayer, Stephan Meske
Copywriter: Szymon Rose, Florian Barthelmess, Jonathan Skupp
Art Director: Steffen Gentis, Annette Berkenbusch, Mereike Ceranna
Year: 2007
Silver Lion

6 – 13eme Rue Tv Channel – SCREAM

Scenes of famous horror films with women screaming…

Advertising Agency: Betc Euro RSCG, Paris
Creative Director: Stephane Xiberras
Copywriter: Oliver Couradjut
Art Director: Remy Tricot
Year: 2007

7 – K-Fee Caffeine Drink – COMPLETE CASE HISTORY

Ever been so wide awake? Then another: K-fee. Canned caffeine with
coffee.

Advertising Agency: Jung Von Matt, Germany
Creative Director: Costantine Kaloff, Ove Gley
Copywriter: Daniel Frericks, Eskil Puhl
Art Director: Frank Aldorf
Year: 2005

Silver Lion for the campaign

8 – Stihl Chainsaw – MASSACRE

The Stihl easy2start chainsaw range feature an effortless , every time starting mechanism.
A wonderful product benefit that gives life to this spoof of the horror genre. Dramatised in a style that looks and feels as much like a cinematic experience as possible, this is an ad that changes shape with a twist.

Advertising Agency: Cummins & Partners, Melbourne
Creative Director: Craig Conway, Sean Cummins
Copywriter: Dave Lunnie, Melissa Turkington
Art Director: Dave Lunnie, Melissa Turkington
Year: 2006

9 – Gainomax Recovery Drink – SCARY

By old habits, people eat bananas after working out. But, bananas are for monkeys. Instead, maximize the effect of your exercise and drink Gainomax Recovery: it’s better for you. In this horror movie a monkey threatens us. Don’t take his bananas. If you do, he’ll come after you.

Advertising Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Stockholm
Creative Director: Fredrik Preisler, Adam Kery
Copywriter: Amalia Ptsiava, Adam Reuterskiold
Art Director: Gustav Egerstedt
Year: 2008

Shortlist

10 – Cingular Mobile Phone Service – HORROR

Filmed in a “horror movie” style, scary teenagers ask their parents for cellphones.

Advertising Agency: BBDO New York
Creative Director: David Lubars, Bill Bruce, Susan Credle
Copywriter: David Locasio
Art Director: Rich Wakefield
Year: 2006


Honda – The story of Cog



In 2002 Honda Motor Company was the number-three Japanese automobile manufacturer in the world, behind Toyota and Nissan. While Honda’s automobile sales in Japan and the United States were considered strong, sales in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe were thought to be weak, even though automobile production in the United Kingdom had been ongoing for a decade. Further, Honda vehicle sales had been declining in these regions since 1998. In response to these problems Honda hired ad agency Wieden+Kennedy’s London office to create an advertising campaign that would directly address the issues. ‘‘The Power of Dreams’’, released in 2002, was an omnipresent campaign in the United Kingdom and beyond, using television, direct mail, radio, posters, press, interactive television, cinema, magazines, motor shows, press launches, dealerships, postcards, beermats (coasters), and even traffic cones. It built upon Honda’s company slogan, ‘‘Yume No Chikara,’’ which was first endorsed in the 1940s by the company’s founder, Soichiro Honda. Translated into English, it meant to ‘‘see’’ one’s dreams. Wieden+Kennedy used this phrase as the basis of its question to consumers: ‘‘Do you believe in the power of dreams?’. 

The global campaign, which centered on this tagline, included print and television components starring ASIMO, a humanoid robot developed by Honda. While the ASIMO ads gained widespread recognition, the 2003 television commercial called ‘‘Cog’’ was clearly a pinnacle of the campaign. In a single take with no special effects, more than 85 individual parts of the new Accord interacted in a complicated chain reaction.

Cog was first aired on British television on Sunday 6 April 2003. The full 120-second version of the advertisement aired only 10 times in all, and only in the 10 days after the initial screening. The slots were chosen for maximum impact, mostly in high-profile sporting events. The campaign was tremendously successful both critically and financially. The media reaction to the advertisement was equally effusive, with articles appearing in both broadsheets such as The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, and The Guardian.

The full version was then put aside in favour of a 60-second and five 30-second variations, which continued to air for a further six weeks. These shortened versions made use of newly-introduced interactive options on the Sky Digital television network. Viewers were encouraged to press a button on their remote control, bringing up a menu that allowed the viewer to see the full 120-second version of the advertisement. Other menu options included placing an order for a free documentary DVD and a brochure for the Honda Accord.



The DVD, which was also included as an insert in 1.2 million newspapers in the first week of the commercial’s rollout, contained a “making-of” documentary featuring interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of the production process, a virtual tour of the Accord, the original music video to “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang, and an illustrated guide to all the parts shown in Cog. The interactive 30-second versions of Cog proved hugely successful. Over 250,000 people used the menu option, spending an average of two and a half minutes in the dedicated advertising area. A significant number watched the looped 120-second version for up to ten minutes. Of those who opened the menu, 10,000 requested either a DVD or a brochure, and Honda used the data collected from the interactive option to arrange a number of test drive.

The Script

Cog opens with a close-up on a transmission bearing rolling down a board into a synchro hub. The hub in turn rolls into a gear wheel cog, which falls off of the board and into a camshaft and pulley wheel. The camshaft swings around into the centre section of an mounted on top of an engine crankshaft assembly. The exhaust swings round and knocks into a series of 3 valve stems. The valve stems roll down a front bonnet placed on top of an alloy wheel rim, releasing an engine oil dipstick with a throttle actuator shaft on the end. The disptick flicks over an engine cam cover into a radiator.The radiator overturns, falling onto a wheel balanced on top of a water pump housing. This wheel rolls off and knocks into the first of a series of three weighted wheels, which roll up a ramp into brake disc. The disc falls onto a seatbelt which, using a suspension lower arm as a lever, pulls a rear seat back into an upright position. As it does so, the seat disturbs a front windscreen wiper blade attached to a pulley wheel. The wiper blade travels along a bonnet release cable and overturns a tin of engine oil. The tin empties its contents onto a lower shelf, which disturbs the balance of several valve springs against flywheel. The oil alters the balance enough to cause several of the springs to roll. The valve springs are slowed enough by the spilt oil to allow them to drop into a cylinder head assembly mounted on a seesaw constructed of a board placed on a rocker shaft and gear wheel cog. On the other end of the seesaw is a car battery. As the assembly drops, the battery is pushed into a cylinder block wired up to an engine fan. It completes the circuit, and the fan rolls across the open floor into an anti-lock braking system modulator unit. The modulator unit knocks a rear silencer box down a ramp and into a rear suspension link. The link pushes a transmission selector arm into a brake pedal loaded with a rubber brake grommet. The grommet launches into a tyre mounted on a front end assembly, knocking it off and onto a wire suspended between two brake discs. The wire pulls a con rod, rotating it into a cylinder liner. The liner rolls down an incline, slowed by another con rod, the electric window of a front door assembly, and a series of interior grab handles. It falls onto another battery, completing a circuit. The circuit powers a windscreen washer jet pointed at a windscreen. The automated water sensors in the windscreen activate a pair of wiper blades, causing them to crawl across the floor. The wipers release a handbrake lever keeping a quartet of suspended window panels in place. As the windows swing round, the resulting air draft knocks the liner panel of a rear tool tray into a rocker shaft, which rolls across the floor into a suspension coil spring. The collision causes enough of a vibration to knock a second shaft into a battery. This activates the Accord’s CD player (playing Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”). The vibrations from the car speakers shake a coil spring just enough to set it rolling off a rear tailgate glass panel, and onto a brake pedal. Once pushed, the pedal causes a set of rear shock absorbers to depress, pushing a polenoid onto a button on an ignition key. The button remotely closes the hatchback of an assembled Honda Accord on a brake-disc-mounted trailer. The closing of the door causes the weight of the car to shift enough to start it rolling down the slope to its final position in front of a tonneau cover with “Accord” printed on it, weighted with a wheel hub assembly. The piece closes with a voiceover from writer Garrison Keillor, who asks, “Isn’t it nice when things just work?”. The screen then cuts to a plain white background, where the Honda logo fades into the centre of the screen. The black text “The Power of Dreams” fades in shortly after the Honda logo has completely faded in.

The Making of



The Honda executives were intrigued, but demanded a cut using actual automotive parts before giving permission to go ahead with the full-scale projects. Once Cog was green-lit with a budget of £1 million, Gooden and Walker wasted no time in recruiting a London-based team to go through the logistics of the shoot in detail. The team, which comprised engineers, special effect technicians, car designers, and even a sculptor, spent a month working with parts from a disassembled Honda Accord before the design for the advertisement’s set was even finalised. Approval for the script took another month. Honda insisted that several specific Accord features, such as a door with a wing-mirror indicator and a rain-sensitive windscreen, appear in the final cut. The company planned to highlight these features in sales brochures. Antoine Bardou-Jacquet was brought on to direct the piece. Bardou-Jacquet was mostly known for directing several award-winning music videos.

Bardou-Jacquet wanted to compose the advertisement with as little computer-generated imagery as possible, believing that the final product would be that much more appealing to its audience. To this end, he set two months aside for the creation of hundreds of conceptual drawings detailing various possible interactions between the parts, and a further four months for practical testing and development. For the testing phase, the script was broken into small segments, each comprising only one or two interactions. Ideas deemed unworkable by the testing crew, such as airbag explosions and collisions between front and rear sections of the car, were abandoned, and the remaining segments were slowly brought together until the full and final sequence was developed. The final cut of Cog consists of two continuous sixty-second dolly shots taken from a technocrane, stitched together later in post-production.
Four days of filming were required to get these two shots, two days for each minute-long section. Filming sessions lasted seven hours and the work was exacting, as some parts needed to be positioned with an accuracy of a sixteenth of an inch. Despite the detailed instructions derived from the testing period, small variations in ambient temperature, humidity and settling dust continually threw off the movement of the parts enough to end the sequence early. It took 90 minutes on the first day just to get the initial transmission bearing to roll correctly into the second. Between testing and filming, 606 takes were needed to capture the final cut. The team commandeered two of Honda’s six hand-assembled Accords—one to roll off the trailer at the end of the advertisement, the other to be stripped for parts. While several sections of the early scripts had to be abandoned due to the total unavailability of certain Accord components, by the time production finished the accumulated spare parts filled two articulated lorries.

Cog needed only limited post-production work, as the decision had been made early on to eschew computer-generated imagery wherever possible. To further reduce the work required in post, Flame artist Barnsley  from the post-production company The Mill, spent a lot of time on set during filming, where he advised the film crew on whether particular sections could be accomplished more easily by re-shooting or in post. Even so, the constant movement of the components on-camera made it difficult to achieve a seamless transition between the two 60-second shots. Several sections also required minor video editing, such as re-centering the frame to stay closer to the action, removal of wires, highlighting a spray of water, and adjusting the pace for dramatic purposes.

Plagiarism accusations

Shortly after Cog appeared on television, Wieden+Kennedy received a letter from Peter Fischli and David Weiss, creators of the 1987 art film “Der Lauf der Dinge”. The art film was well known in the advertising industry, and its creators had been approached several times with offers for the right to use the concept, but had always declined.

The letter pointed out several similarities between their work and Cog, and warned the agency that they were considering legal action on the basis of the “commercialisation and simplification of the film’s content and the false impression that [they] might have endorsed the use”. When interviewed by Creative Review magazine, the pair made clear that they wished they had been consulted on the advertisement, and that they would not have given permission if asked. Media publications quickly picked up the story, and asserted that Fishcli and Weiss were already in the process of litigation against the car manufacturer.  Ultimately, Fischli and Weiss never filed a lawsuit against either Wieden+Kennedy or Honda UK, but their accusations continue to colour perceptions of the work within the advertising community.

Awards

Having swept the majority of award ceremonies within the advertising community to date, Cog was widely believed to be the favourite for the industry’s top award, the Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. Cog held a disadvantage in that the chairman of the Cannes voting jury, Dan Wieden, was one of the founders of Wieden+Kennedy, the firm responsible for creating Cog; tradition holds that it is bad form for the chairman of the jury to vote for a piece by his or her own agency. Despite the lingering shadow of these accusations, Cog drew an unprecedented amount of critical acclaim. It received more awards than any commercial in history; so many that it was both the most-awarded commercial of 2004 and the 33rd-most-awarded commercial of 2003. The jury for the British Television Advertising Awards gave the piece the highest score of any commercial ever recorded; the jury’s chairman Charles Inge commented: “My own opinion is that this is the best commercial that I have seen for at least ten years.” After awarding Cog with several Silver awards, the president-elect of the D&AD Awards, Dick Powell, said of the piece: “It delights and entrances, [...] it communicates engineering quality and quality of thinking, and leaves you with a smile.”

The result at Cannes was a surprise; after the longest judging period in the festival’s history, the Grand Prix went to neither of the two event favourites. Instead, the jury awarded the prize to Lamp a U.S. advertisement directed by Spike Jonze for the IKEA chain of furniture stores. Chief among speculated reasons for the outcome was the plagiarism debate surrounding Cog. Ben Walker told “A couple of people on the jury told me the reason it didn’t win is ’cause they didn’t want to be seen to be awarding something which people in some corners had said we copied.”

Homages and Parody

The popularity and recognition received by Cog led a number of other companies to create pieces in a similar vein, either as homages, in parody, or simply to further explore the design area. The first of these was Just Works, a deliberate parody advertisement for the 118 118 Directory Assistance Service in the summer of 2003, in which the Honda parts are replaced with such oddities as a tractor wheel, a flamingo and a space hopper, although what makes this advertisement different is that the familiar 118 118 runners simply push the items forward to keep things going. Campaign magazine listed Cog, along with Balls for the Sony Bravia as one of the most-imitated commercials in recent times.


Advertising Agency:  Wieden+Kennedy, London
Creative Director:  Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth
Copywriter:  Ben Walker
Art Director: Matt Gooden
Production Company:  Partizan, London
Director:  Antoine Bardou-Jacquet
Year: 2003


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