Stella Artois returns to WWI in new Lowe spot

Stella Artois has drawn its inspiration from the flying aces of the First World War for a two-minute commercial that sustains the Interbrew brand's association with advertising blockbusters.

The epic, which features a dogfight between replica biplanes from the era, is the most expensive ever produced for the premium lager brand, its budget exceeding that of last year's "Devil's Island" film.

Lowe has produced the commercial, the first 120-second spot for Stella Artois, which aims to replicate the high production values of the feature films around which it will run on TV and in cinemas from this Sunday.

Starcom Motive is running the media planning and buying schedule and the full version of the ad will be shown tactically around television feature films.

It will also be seen in its entirety at more than 70 art- house cinemas across the UK. The major cinema chains will be screening a 70-second edited version.

Shot in black and white over ten days in the Czech Republic by the Czech-born director Ivan Zacharias of Stink, the film tells the story of an English pilot shot down over occupied France and his bid for freedom.

After his Sopwith Camel is machine-gunned by a pursuing Fokker, the pilot crashes into a tree but manages to make his getaway. Pursued by German soldiers he limps to the sanctuary of a village where he is hidden by the barman and his customers.

The German patrol, having ordered everybody to remain still, searches the bar but can't find the pilot's hiding place. Meanwhile, the barman sneaks horrified glances at a pouring Stella Artois tap.

As the Stella glass is about to overflow, the barman's nerve cracks and he points to a large trunk where the pilot is hiding before diving to switch off the beer tap.

The script was the brainchild of the Lowe senior creative Vince Squibb, who collaborated with the art directors Jason Laws and Sam Cartmell.