Throughout their twelve years together, the pair have created a string of campaigns which have championed a sense of warmth, wit and charm for clients as diverse as Harrods, Harvey Nichols, VW, Travelocity and adidas.
Their TV ads are discussed regularly in the national media. Presenter Lauren Laverne said their work showed a "kind of dark genius". Art critic Waldemar Januszczak said their Halifax ad with the dog was "really clever". The columnist and author Caitlin Moran said one of their commercials made her cry for three minutes.
In 2008 Emer and Ben joined start-up agency adam&eve. They played a key role in winning the John Lewis account, and established a new, more emotional tone of voice for the brand. In 2012, the John Lewis campaign won them their second IPA Grand Prix. According to the Gunn Report, the John Lewis Christmas ad "The Long Wait" is the fifth most awarded ad film in the world.
Ben & Emer's choices
Tango "St George"
Despite airing on national TV only 10 times, this ad for Blackcurrant Tango went on to win a string of awards and was named among the 100 Best Commercials of All Time. The ad, in which Tango spokesman, Ray Gardner, responds to a letter of complaint from a French exchange student by leading a march to the White Cliffs of Dover, won a Cannes Gold, Silver Pencil from D&AD in 1998 and an ITV gold award at the BTAA.
Filmed in just three days, the ad climaxes with Gardner entering a boxing ring and challenging France, Europe and the rest of the world to take him on, backed up by three Harrier Jump Jets. It ends with the line, "I'm Ray Gardner, and I drink Blackcurrant Tango".
The ad appears to be a continuous shot, but in fact consists of tracking and helicopter shots from different days with different weather conditions with the locations seamlessly linked together. The sequence evolves through various screen styles building from low budget corporate video to a dramatic motion picture finale at the end. The ad was created by agency Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury and directed by TV drama director Colin Gregg.
Lynx "Getting dressed"
Winning four Silvers at D&AD and a Gold Cannes Lion, this ad for Unilever's Lynx body spray was also shortlisted three times at the 2005 British Arrows awards.
Created by BBH London, the ad was a new twist on the Lynx Effect campaign. It starts with a couple waking up in bed and follows them as they slowly start to get dressed. As the ad unfolds, the couple move through the city, picking up their abandoned clothes where they’d left them, before ending up, back where they started, at the supermarket.
Directed by Ringan Ledwidge, the ad features Israel Kamakawiwòole's version of 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow', which has featured in an array of Hollywood films and television programmes.
Winner of over 10 Golds from creative awards including Cannes Lions and The Creative Circle, this powerful spot from NSPCC puts a cartoon child being abused by a real-life parent at the heart of the story.
The ad sees the animated child bounce around the house as his father beats him, throws things at him and puts his cigarette out on the child's head. The ad reaches its poignant climax as the cartoon child, seen bouncing down the stairs, turns into a real child laying lifeless.
For David Droga, the creative director, this was the script that stuck out from the possibles. He said "That was it – we wanted to show the kind of violence and abuse that advertising regulators would never allow. Having a cartoon child enabled that to happen, making viewers extremely uneasy about the juxtaposition of an animated world with the grim reality of child abuse."
The project, conceived by Howard Wilmott and Duncan Marshall, took shape after Passion Pictures' animation experts and director Frank Budgen began working on how to formulate the ad. Created by Saatchi & Saatchi London, the ad was directed by Frank Budgen from Gorgeous and animated by Passion Pictures.
About this series
In this series of short films, leading Thinkbox Creative Academy members have the tricky task of selecting just three TV ads that have inspired them: brilliant commercials, old and new, that they admire but had nothing to do with.
The idea is not only to explore some of our greatest ads in the company of people who know a thing or two about making them, but also because of the proven link between creativity and effectiveness encourage the advertising industry to even greater heights.
About The Thinkboxes
The Thinkboxes are the first awards to celebrate the UK's world-beating TV ad creativity, in all its forms, at regular way-points throughout the year.
Created in association with Haymarket Brand Media (Campaign, Marketing and Brand Republic), these bi-monthly awards are judged by the Thinkbox Creative Academy; made up of over 200 advertising luminaries.
We hope you enjoy the films.