T&F Ad Digger, 13.6.2014
We scope out the best use of music in ads around the world every week. It’s a motley, time-hopping lineup this time – how best to soundtrack 18th century insurrectionists, everyday tenderness, ferocious World Cup feats and the sunny, slapstick zombie apocalypse? Sometimes a little anachronism goes a long way.
Assassin’s Creed – Unity (Ubisoft)
Ubisoft’s latest, premiered at LA’s E3 gaming expo this week, features a stop-start edit of Lorde’s apocalyptic take on ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’, originally recorded for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’s soundtrack last year. It’s a slow-burning spot opening with a bird’s eye swoop over 1789 Paris, replete with the expected superb visuals and topped off with the cover’s louring keys, crashing breaks and on-the-nose lyrics – tailor made for partially slo-mo skirmishes between garrison and National Guard at the Storming of the Bastille, through which a lithe quartet of the titular assassins weave, bumping off guards with their usual hooded grace.
Showy and modish it might be, and in terms of setup there are better cold opens out there this week, but in terms of sombre front-row music use Ubisoft take the cake (and are presumably wiser than to prescribe it to the people of Paris.)
Song: Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Artist: Lorde (orig. Tears for Fears)
Favourites: Hunter Gatherer (McDonald’s)
An ordinary man resists the comfort of the couch and goes out through a city closing down for the night, hoping to satisfy his heavily pregnant partner’s nocturnal cravings – and McDonald’s is there for him, ready at any hour to fulfill the oddest of requests (in this case, an order of gherkins.) What all too easily could be draft cliche is lifted by low key performances and the warmth of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s tender 1967 hit ‘Darlin’ Be Home Soon’. The indefinable cuddliness of the song’s 1960s production and genuine, restrained sentiment go a long way towards quelling the suspicion that actually making this order in a local McDonald’s would get you stared out the door.
Song: Darlin’ Be Home Soon
Artist: The Lovin’ Spoonful
Playstation – Dead Island 2
On the other end of the game trailer spectrum this week, Playstation come out swinging (and flailing, and shambling) with a cheekier E3 spot. Where Dead Island’s much-lauded trailer brewed an unprecedented emotional devastation in under three minutes by dint of note-perfect, cinematic editing and Giles Lamb’s understated, punch-in-the-gut score, Dead Island 2 goes for the black comedy gusto instead, and in its way it’s no less cinematic. Meat-headed beefcake protagonist, fun staging, escalating gross-out chaos – it’s all here in sun-soaked, technicolor California, tied together and given bounce by an irreverant and highly appropriate usage of Pigeon John’s ‘The Bomb’. Proof that good sync is a two-way street – the right spot can refresh perceptions of a well-used song, and the right song can lift a good storyboard to another level altogether. (And as an extra bonus, this one can be read as a rather nastier companion piece to last week’s cheery Apple keep-fit rallying cry.)
Dead Island 2 (PlayStation)
Song: The Bomb
Artist: Pigeon John
All in or nothing – The Wake Up Call (Adidas)
This shorter edit has been kicking around for a little longer, but this week Adidas unleashed the near three-minute version of their most full-tilt World Cup spot, a kinetic stomper steeped initially in tense strings and the pre-match jitters of Lionel Messi and various other footballing greats, and then opening with a snarl into a tight montage of dancing fans and on-pitch feats, hurtled along by the shuddering, percussive ferocity of Kanye West’s ‘God Level’. It’s a handsome, fleer-footed balance of toughness, tension and chest-thumping, and it ought to open the first World Cup weekend with the intended bang.
Song: God Level
Artist: Kanye West
Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles
Director: Fernando Meirelles