Rewind: Before Van Damme's 'Epic Split,' There Was Its Enya Soundtrack

Enya's 'Only Time' Was Directed by a Cannes Lions Grand Prix Winner

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Part of what makes Volvo Trucks' ad "The Epic Split" so brilliant and bizarre is its soundtrack: Who expects to see a stunt by action star Jean-Claude Van Damme set to a song by the ethereal Enya?

Now the ad world is expecting Forsman & Bodenfors' viral video, featuring the Enya song "Only Time," to take a Grand Prix at Cannes this month. And it turns out that a top ad creative, one with a Grand Prix himself, actually directed the Enya music video back in 2000.

Graham Fink
Graham Fink

Graham Fink, Ogilvy & Mather's chief creative officer for greater China, made his name with ads including Saatchi & Saatchi's classic 1989 "Face" commercial for British Airways. He was taking a break from advertising to direct when he was asked to shoot a music video for the Irish singer -- "A lovely lady," he said.

Enya's team played him the track, "and even before I had the idea, it seemed the most important thing was, what was Enya going to wear?" he said. "It was more important than the concept or anything."

Mr. Fink interpreted the song ("Who can say where the road goes, / Where the day flows? / Only time") as being about the seasons. Because Enya lived in a castle (Dublin's Manderley Castle, which she purchased in 1997) he set the video in one. But he brought the "weather" indoors, rain and autumn leaves included.

"We collected thousands of leaves from some of the parks in London … and as we were firing all these leaves at her I remember I was really worried that perhaps we'd picked up some dog shit too, and I just had these visions of Enya getting covered in dog shit," he said. "Thankfully that never happened."

Mr. Fink wanted Enya to move around in the video, a challenge since she was given to just staying still. He didn't tell her ahead of time that she was going to get rained on in the spring sequence. But she went with it, and she moved around, too.

"And of course her dress -- the one we'd spent all these hours and hours on -- got completely soaked," said Mr. Fink, who later directed another Enya video.

So what does Mr. Fink, who won a Cannes Grand Prix in 2012 for the #CokeHands campaign, think of "The Epic Split?"

"I'm sure it will win a Grand Prix in Cannes -- it's a bit of a no-brainer," said Mr. Fink, who just worked on a buzzed-about Coca-Cola upcycling campaign (with bottle caps that can transform empty bottles into paintbrushes, barbells and toys.)

The Volvo Trucks ad "is just incredibly simple, and it's surprising," he said. "And I really wish I had done it."

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