Hot in 2019: Top 13 film ads

A look back on the best of our industry in 2019.

13 GoCompare 'Tree'

Gio Compario is one of the longest-running characters in advertising but also one of the most derided. So Droga5 brought him back in a new role in which he doesn’t sing any opera. Instead, Gio gets behind the wheel to re-enact a real-life car crash that led to an insurance claim, while Wynne Evans, the Welsh tenor who portrays him, also appears as himself to narrate the events. 

Agency Droga5 London Creatives Ashley Hamilton, Sara Sutherland Director Jeff Low Production company Biscuit

12 WaterWipes '#ThisIsParenthood' 

Amid so much saccharine marketing in the babycare category, WaterWipes got real with an unfiltered, raw depiction of parenthood. The 16-minute documentary follows families around the world to share intimate moments and conversations, covering everything from birth to nappy changes, and pushing back against the unrealistic expectations placed on new parents. 

Agency The Brooklyn Brothers Creative Cali Oliver Director Lucy Cohen Production company Pulse Films

11 Guinness 'Clear' 

This glossy Guinness spot has all the clichés of traditional beer advertising, from slow-motion product shots to satisfied drinkers. But what appears to be hype for a new kind of clear brew is actually promoting a glass of tap water. The spoof was part of the brand’s responsible-drinking initiative. 

Agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Creatives Tim Riley, Zak Loney Director Tom Kuntz  Production company MJZ

10 PlayStation 'Tear' 

A&E/DDB roared out of the traps with its first ads for PlayStation, the most haunting of which sets an apocalyptic scene centred on a desolate world submerged in water. The flood slowly recedes before the source is revealed to be a tear on a man’s face as he plays a game on PlayStation. 

Agency Adam & Eve/DDB Creatives Darren Beresford, Richard Gayton Director Frédéric Planchon Production company Academy

9 Sainsbury’s 'Nicholas the sweep' 

For its 150th anniversary, Sainsbury’s traced Santa’s origins back to Victorian London. After Nick, a chimney sweep, is wrongly accused of stealing a clementine from the Sainsbury’s shop and banished from the city, Mary Ann Sainsbury rescues him. He repays her by dropping clementines in the socks of his fellow sweeps and spreading some Christmas magic. 

Agency Wieden & Kennedy London Creatives Tom Bender, Tom Corcoran, Tomas Coleman, Mat Kramer Director Ninian Doff Production company Pulse Films

8 Sipsmith 'Mr Swan' 

The elaborate stop-motion technique in Sipsmith’s first brand campaign is meant to mirror the detailed care that goes into making its gin. The ad introduces Mr Swan, a dapper, feathered mascot, who gives a tour of the distillery, but doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does. The dry humour and beautiful craft call for a sequel.   

Agency Ogilvy UK Creatives Jonny Durgan, Ilka Mourao Director Jeff Low Production company Biscuit

7 Comic Relief 'Wise words' 

Despite what the charity’s name might suggest, Comic Relief’s film doesn’t elicit any laughs, instead offering a moving monologue from actor Peter Mullan about human commonalities amid the country’s division. Shot on a council estate in Glasgow, and without a soundtrack, the spot uncovers deep truths in quiet, everyday moments. 

Agency Wonderhood Studios Creatives Stacey Bird, Jack Croft, Phil Le Brun, Adeline Dechaud Director 32 Production company Pulse Films

6 Renault 'The French exchange' 

Renault’s modern love story between two women is LGBT+-inclusive without being tokenistic. An English girl and a French girl meet on an exchange trip. Their friendship blossoms into a decades-long romance, threatened by long distance, conservative parents and an ill-advised marriage. However, their love endures and they come together at last and start a family. 

Agency Publicis.Poke Creatives Dave Monk, Colin Byrne, Rob Butcher, Tom Genower Director Frederic Planchon Production company Academy

5 Amazon Prime Video 'Great shows stay with you'

Amazon Prime Video stayed on top form with the second chapter of its campaign about people whose lives change dramatically after binge-watching TV. Instead of following events chronologically, the films begin with the radical transformation before jumping back to reveal how a Prime Video show was the catalyst. 

Agency Droga5 London Creatives Ed Redgrave, Dave Wigglesworth  Director Steve Rogers Production company Somesuch

4 Virgin Media 'You can do anything' 

Just as the adventures of long-time Virgin Media ambassador Usain Bolt were growing stale, a new direction from A&E/DDB infused the brand with attitude and fun. The energetic debut about a dad with newfound confidence takes a darkly comic turn when he drives off a cliff and then crashes his own funeral. 

Agency Adam & Eve/DDB Creatives Simon Vicars, Andre Sallowicz, Nat Potter Director Ian Pons Jewell Production company Academy

3 ITV 'Great characters make great drama' 

ITV elevated the calibre of its advertising with well-crafted portraits of well-known characters from the channel. Roger Allam, playing Detective Inspector Fred Thursday from Endeavour, dodges bullets while reflecting on being a patriarch, while Brenda Blethyn, in her role as the eponymous detective chief inspector from Vera, muses about defying expectations as a woman who fights crime.

Agency Uncommon Creative Studio Creative n/s Director James Marsh Production company Pulse Films 

2 John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners 'Excitable Edgar' 

The first joint Christmas campaign from John Lewis and Waitrose seamlessly integrates the brands while retaining the classic elements that have made the department store’s festive ads so hotly anticipated. An overexcited, fire-breathing dragon inadvertently ruins a medieval town’s celebrations, but redeems himself by adding the finishing touch to the Christmas pudding. 

Agency Adam & Eve/DDB Creative Simon Lloyd Director Dougal Wilson Production company Blink

1 Bodyform 'Viva la vulva' 

"When I say advertising can change the world, this is what I mean," MakeLoveNotPorn founder Cindy Gallop said of Bodyform’s groundbreaking film. Superbly crafted and directed, with no frame wasted, no wonder the agency’s awards cabinet is full. This feel-good ode to vaginas is an important step towards greater body positivity in advertising. 

Agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Creatives Caio Giannella, Diego de Oliveira Director Kim Gehrig Production company Somesuch

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