BBH's "Clowns" for Audi drives off with Thinkboxes Award

Audi’s ad, “Clowns”, created by BBH London, has been chosen by the Thinkbox Academy as winner of the latest Thinkboxes award for TV ad creativity.

In the ad, BBH London brings to life the notion that there are lots of "clowns” on the roads by showing classic circus clowns in full slapstick make-up doing chronically stupid things in gaily-painted clown cars - with potentially calamitous outcomes for other drivers. In an Audi, though, drivers are always just that little bit safer; its sensors and braking systems will help protect them from the dangerous antics of thoughtless road-users.

“We wanted to convey a serious message about Audi’s cutting-edge road-safety technologies in a bright, witty and engaging way,” explains Audi UK Marketing Director Benjamin Braun. “It was the latest in a series of themed campaigns, which pressed home the message that our cars are not just beautiful – they have amazing brains, too.”

Although Send in the Clowns was an early choice of track for obvious reasons, it is also a continuation of Audi’s recent theme of repurposing classics with modern talent. “The moving soundtrack provided a perfect counterpoint to the antics of the clowns,” Braun says. “There is a certain kind of song that has become synonymous with Audi now. When we get it right it lifts the film to another level.”

The music also enabled the team to build in an interesting mechanic which underlined Audi’s commitment to improving road safety: anyone interested in the music was invited to Shazam it and download the track, with Audi making a contribution to road-safety charity Brake for each Shazam use.

Shot in Prague at the end of August, the commercial features a cross-section of actors and actresses, some of whom had been to ‘clown school’. It then launched across high-impact TV and cinema spots to deliver maximum reach, delivering an initial 30 million key audience impacts.

  • Agency: BBH London
  • Creatives: Ian Heartfield, Doug Fridland, Mikael Alcock
  • Client: Kelly Palmer
  • Production Company: Rattling Stick
  • Director: Ringan Ledwidge

Benjamin Braun

Audi stands out from the crowd, and research proves our campaigns are successful. We are right to strive for originality

Benjamin Braun Marketing Director, Audi UK

Ian Heartfield

TV is still the quickest way to get a brand talked about. The difference is it is harder to get noticed now. That means our ads need to be better

Ian Heartfield ECD, BBH London

Other ads on the Podium

MoneySuperMarket "Epic lift"

He-Man and Skeletor return to feature in another MoneySuperMarket spot – and this time they’re paying homage to the final scene from the 1980s film classic, Dirty Dancing. They might be sworn enemies in Masters of the Universe, but now that they’ve saved lots of money – and therefore feel epic – they’re able to put their differences aside and dance together in a bar. And of course it wouldn’t be complete without a flamboyant version of the most famous dancing lift in film history.

  • Creative agency: Mother 
  • Creative team: Mother 
  • Client: Philippa Heywood 
  • Production company: Blink
  • Director: The Bobbsey Twins From Homicide

Warburtons "Pride and Breadjudice"

In order, supposedly, to celebrate Warburton’s 141st anniversary, Peter Kay gives us a lampoon of a TV costume drama – Jane Austen meets the Bronte sisters. It’s an epic tale of "passion, flour and a woman stood on an ‘ill" – a case of Pride and Breadjudice, no less – recounting how Kay (playing the current Mr Warburton’s great grandfather) wins out over his love rivals using "suggestive kneading" and an uncanny knowledge of the tasty sorts of seeds you can use in baking bread.

  • Creative agency: WCRS 
  • Creative team: Billy Faithfull, Andy Lee, Jonny Porthouse, Freya Harrison, Gina Ramsden
  • Production Company: Another
  • Director: Declan Lowney

Marmite "Gene Project"

A montage, here, of people receiving test results – and breaking the (often harrowing) news to loved ones. The twist is that they’ve all undergone a "genetic" test to find out if, by hereditary inclination, they’re Marmite lovers or haters. Either way, it’s the sort of revelation that may tear a family apart – and a suitably solemn Elgar soundtrack adds to the comedic effect as our families are forced to confront some home truths. As the endline has it: "Test it for yourself.”

  • Creative Agency: Adam&Eve/DDB
  • Creative team: Ben Tollett, Richard Brim, Till Diestel, Nick Sheppard, Tom Webber
  • Client: Andre Burger, Philippa Atkinson
  • Production Company: Outsider TV
  • Director: James Rouse

Sainsbury’s "What’s For Dinner?"

Texting takes centre stage here – we see tired, hungry commuters on their way home from their busy days in town, messaging their partners to begin planning the evening meal. It’s an important part of the daily routine – the thought of some lovely grub is like a light at the end of a dark tunnel – and Sainsbury’s helps liven up the whole business with specially-created emojis and GIFs, available to download from the site or your app store.

  • Creative agency: Wieden+Kennedy London
  • Creative team: Anders Stake, Sophie Bodoh, Scott Dungate, Joris Philipart, Tomas Coleman, Clarence Bradley
  • Client: Donna Murray-Clark
  • Production company: Iconoclast  
  • Director: Mees Peijnenburg

A view from the Academy

Laurence Green

Clowns is a brilliant insight, simply but beautifully realised: it's a commercial we can all learn from.

Laurence Green Founding Partner, 101


Click here to see who won the previous award

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