Through New Year's, we'll be counting down the best work of the year in TV/Film/Branded Content, Print/Outdoor/Design and Interactive/Integrated (IX) as our picks of the day.
While 2017 may have been the year of killer clowns, Audi used the funnymakers as a briliant foil to its A8 vehicle in what may be the most poetic, gorgeous display of product features in our recent memory. The film reunited BBH London and director Ringan Ledwidge, the team behind the acclaimed "Three Little Pigs" ad for The Guardian, and their talents shone brightly once again. Replacing the glare of sheet metal was an array of expertly crafted details that gracefully showcased the car's impressive tech capabilities without clobbering you over the head with them. The elegiac cover of "Send in the Clowns" by Lisa Hannigan completed the powerful package.
When did clowns stop being funny and start just being creepy? Certainly, last year's killer clown phenomenon didn't help, nor will current Stephen King movie "It." But that hasn't stopped Audi from using them for comedic (and informative) purposes in its latest U.K. ad, which makes the point that you're safe in one of its cars even when surrounded by other drivers who behave like clowns.
The film, directed by Rattling Stick's Ringan Ledwidge for BBH London, is set to Sondheim musical classic "Send in the Clowns," covered by Lisa Hannigan, and depicts a bunch of different clowns doing ill-advised things in their clapped-out vehicles -- like reversing at speed on a main road, swerving all over the road while applying makeup, driving with custard pies covering their eyes and carelessly losing bouncy balls out of the back of their van. Never mind, though, the Audi drivers are still safe with their sensors and other safety features that detect clown-ish driving a mile off.
The spot ends with the new Audi A8 parking between two circus jalopies using its park assist feature, before the tagline: "Audi Technology. Clown Proof."
It's a refreshing twist for the category, the juxtaposition of the colorful clowns and their antics bringing a warm, artful touch to what's basically a product feature showcase. Craft-wise, it's superb as well, and the interplay of cinematography, art direction, editing and music almost make you forget you're watching a sheet metal ad.
As well as running on TV, the ad will also be the first commercial ever to be featured at the British Film Institute just ahead of the main feature film. A logo will encourage people to Shazam the soundtrack, and for every Shazam, Audi will donate to the road safety charity Brake, in support of U.K. Road Safety Week in November.