David Reviews

 Biting the hand that feeds us since 2002.

Latest Work
    • Of human bondageAn intriguing and futuristic ad for BBC Earth questions what really makes us human. Is it our capacity for abstract thought, or language?
    • Podcast - The Social Media BacklashOur latest podcast examines the social media backlash faced by Pepsi and McDonald's in the last few weeks.
    • Five Favourite... Car AdsAppreciating five of our favourite car ads from 2017 so far.
    • Up the Boatmen.Budweiser reaffirm their support of grassroots football in this engaging film.
    • Nocturnal AnimalsThis high-octane ad for Superdry shows a group of friends getting up to no good after dark.
    • Black Label score a hat-trick.Black Label have signed three directorial talents to their roster: Kathryn Ferguson, Lisa Gunning, and Tell No One.
    • What a TearjerkerKFC announce the arrival of their Nashville Hot chicken on our shores with this classy ad.
    • Repeat after me.Kelly’s struck a chord last year with their Cornish-language commercial. Now the brand wants us to become fluent… well, that may be a stretch.
    • When opposites attract.With festival season looming, Vero and Nexus director Kibwe Tavares offer a fantastical spin on muddy fields and watered-down lager.
    • Rooms with a view.This Irish Virgin Media ad offers something for almost everyone.
    • Sway and SlayThree introduce us to a pair of animated giraffes whose confidence levels couldn't be more different.
    • The sound choice.BBC Four pay tribute to high fidelity with these well-crafted idents.
    • Beast of friends.Toilet paper and cuddly mascots seem to go arm in arm. Andrex have their puppy; Cushelle has a CG koala; now Lotus unleash an animatronic yeti.


Wednesday, 14th June.
Betwen 4.30pm and 6.30pm.

The LSE, Sheffield Street, Holborn, London, WC2.

Tickets: £20 plus VAT.

● Sharon Horgan.

● GiffGaff.

● W.I.Z.

● Graham Rose tribute.

● The reunion.


BBC Earth
"Being Human"
25 May 2017

An intriguing and futuristic ad for BBC Earth questions what really makes us human. Is it our capacity for abstract thought, coupled with a seemingly unparalleled ability to share information via language? How much of it is inextricably linked to our sensory systems, from proprioception - our awareness of our own bodies in their immediate surroundings – to the pleasure or pain that different experiences evoke?

For instance, we've all walked into an unfamiliar house and been struck by the smells that combine to create its own unique signature. We can divine from the fusion of cooking odours, cleaning sprays, pets, perfumes and more whether it's a happy home, or a busy one; whether the people who inhabit it have the same kinds of priorities as ourselves or whether we just want to get the hell out. Every single person has a way of connecting to the world that is completely their own thanks to the the way our brain's neural networks grow and adapt from infancy... so what would a self-aware machine – a cyborg - make of this?

The ad features such a creature explaining 'she' can do many of the things humans can. As she speaks, facing away from us, the back of her head is uncannily exposed to reveal its inner circuits and wires; emphasising her otherness. But for all her synthetic composition, when she turns to address the camera directly we can't help but note the remarkably expressive face she has; full of wistfulness; subtle and delicate despite the somewhat rigid mouth. She can merely dream of what it is to be human... although only metaphorically at that: dreaming is beyond her.

The spot feels like a lament from an intellect that, although potentially superior, yearns to enjoy a more holistic experience of consciousness. All of which which makes us question whether we're merely responding to a voice designed to sound sad, or if 'she' is indeed feeling something after all.

While the 'human' AI trope has been covered many times, this is done in a rather lovely way here. Better set 'Being Human' to record and hope we discover some answers.

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Podcast - The Social Media Backlash

Pepsi and McDonald's have both faced the ire of the crowd in recent weeks. The fizzy drink brand received a universal shellacking when they implied that a can of their sugary offering could bring a riot under control if handed over by a young female member of the Kardashian clan.

The response to McDonald's recent commercial dealing with bereavement was more nuanced but no-one can deny that lessons need to be learned.


Five Favourite... Car Ads

Car ads are a unique art form - striking the balance between product, narrative, and emotional punch can be a fine line to walk and takes no small talent to pull off.

Here - in no particular order - are just a few of our favourites which have come through the door since January.


"Sholing F.C."
1 min 40s
25 May 2017

Budweiser reaffirm their support of grassroots football in this engaging film. As more illustrious clubs spend hundreds of millions on new stadia, it’s a sore point for clubs like Sholing F.C. Having seen progress stifled in the past by league criteria, the Hampshire team must work hard on and off the pitch.

The club’s objectives are a world away from Champions League qualification. For Sholing - currently playing in England’s ninth tier - safeguarding its future for three more years is the target. As one emotional fan demonstrates, the club’s place in the community is priceless.

Despite the Universal Stadium’s modest surroundings, director James Wallis and DP Ben Marshall pick out some apt details: a foam finger from Sholing’s FA Vase triumph hangs with pride; ads for local businesses surround the pitch; while you can pick out individual voices in the crowd.

'Adopting’ a lower-league team has become a popular means of strengthening a brand’s supposed sporting credentials. Through their generous investment, the lager hopes to raise awareness for other non-league clubs. An engaging palate cleanser after this season’s top-flight escapades.

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"The Night is Young"
25 May 2017

This high-octane ad for Superdry shows a group of friends getting up to no good after dark. Made by acclaimed promo director Courtney Phillips, it has the fashionable youngsters hopping fences, blowing things up, and running foul of the law. They even get frisky in public places and flash drivers from a bridge, the scamps.

The clip has a cool, grungy quality which will make anybody think twice about a cup of tea and an early night... especially as it's scored by the rambunctious energy of heavy rock/blues duo The Graveltones.

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Five Star Work

"Sholing F.C."
1 min 40s
25 May 2017
Budweiser reaffirm their support of grassroots football in this engaging film. As more illustrious clubs spend hundreds of millions on new stadia, it’s a sore point for clubs like Sholing F.C. Having seen progress stifled in the past by league criteria, the Hampshire team must work hard on and off the pitch.

"Pink Giraffe"
23 May 2017
Following in the footsteps of Samsung, Cushelle, and Lotus, Three introduce us to a pair of animated giraffes whose confidence levels couldn't be more different. This time the main mammal is a hybrid - a 'giraffeamingo' combining the most distinctive features of both creatures. Bolstered by the ability to enjoy roaming data wherever it travels to, the beast struts, poses, and finally takes off in sheer delight.

"Music Idents"
22 May 2017
BBC Four pay tribute to high fidelity with these well-crafted idents. Tangible and atmospheric, this suite harkens back to analogue’s heydey. Audiophiles will relish each close-up of tape recorders, audio reels, and phonographs, but it’s the backing track that shines. Mark Hellaby’s precise treatment demands a good pair of headphones or speakers.

19 May 2017
Perhaps wary of smartphones stealing their thunder, Canon wish to reassert their photography credentials. Life moves at light speed in this ad depicting youth evolving into young manhood. Like any good story, there are thrills and spills - and the brand wants every moment to look its best. There are no product shots or specifications, so it’s up to the viewer to follow Canon’s story thread further.

Sky Sports
"Be Inside the Game"
2 mins
18 May 2017
The grind of pre-season is laid bare in this engrossing Sky Sports promo. The film captures Gaelic footballers and hurlers knee deep in training. It’s a world of whiteboards, repetitive drills, and training bibs… the roar of the crowd comes later. Believe Media’s Michel + Nico are adept at capturing what goes on before kick-off, and this attractively shot piece underlines the preparation required at the highest level.

Apple iPhone
18 May 2017
Apple are certainly proud of the new Portrait feature on their iPhone 7's camera - so much that they tasked the talented Dougal Wilson to show it single-handedly turning a sleepy barber shop into a thriving business. The professional look of the portraits snapped by an employee soon entices more customers, who are summarily transformed.

"Love Story"
3 mins 12s
16 May 2017
Young love takes a sinister turn in this compelling Movistar commercial. Two youngsters exchange text messages and pictures before deciding to meet. As their online relationship blossoms, however, you can’t help but feel something is amiss… and it is. Well, the course of true love never did run smooth.

"Cape Town Course"
1 min 40s
15 May 2017
From Gary Player to modern players like Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa’s golfing lineage is impressive. Here, Nike give a platform to the next generation… and there’s not a green in sight. Nothing stops these golfers getting into the swing of things. Every surface becomes a tee, an imaginary flag added to every vista. Improvisation and exploration are encouraged and the sport’s officious tendencies are hit long.

Dr Giorgini
"One Bad Day"
1 min 46s
12 May 2017
Italian supplement brand Dr Giorgini demonstrate exactly when their brain boosting pills might be needed in this hugely entertaining ad. We follow a father and son through their morning routine. Toast burns, costumes are ruined, and the kid is sent off to school with an endearingly-rubbish, cobbled together version of his spacesuit. Things only get worse from there.

T K Maxx
"Why Shop at T K Maxx?"
11 May 2017
Why would anyone want to shop at T K Maxx? Who would brave the jumble sale of tat to see what gems are buried under a mountain of last season's designer socks and mysterious kitchen implements? This stylish ad answers those questions with aplomb, acknowledging the haphazard nature of the stores with enough panache to suggest it's a virtue rather than a flaw.

"The Trailblazers"
1 min 32s
10 May 2017
From social media acclaim to biting parodies, Heineken’s ‘Worlds Apart’ film remains a talking point. However, this commercial returns to one of the lager’s trademark memes: an epic bar crawl. Those who’ve indulged mates as they exaggerate last night’s trip to the pub will appreciate this genre-hopping spectacle.

Marks & Spencer
"Spend It Well (Food)"
11 May 2017
What does Valenstein & Fatt's first work for M&S's food reveal? For starters, the synergy between it and last week's offering indicates that Vicki Maguire and her merry creatives are aiming to remind punters that the same clever M&S suppliers who provide them with the food they love, also offer the clothes they keep overlooking.

"Eat Monday For Breakfast"
9 May 2017
Arla drums home the importance of showing Monday morning who's boss - snooze button be damned. A suitably perky sequence from Firecracker's Joe Roberts encompasses yawning farm animals, revving engines, and slices of toast evading eager hands. The use of an escalating drum beat in the background evokes Budweiser's 'Time' ad as well.

8 May 2017
We like to think we can see through any potential scam that arrives in our email inbox. Dodgy punctuation, garbled text, links to unknown addresses… familiar signals to keep our cyber-guard up. As this impressive Barclays ad demonstrates, however, the scenarios used by scammers are becoming ever more convincing.

"Match Day"
9 May 2017
Chelsea midfielder Willian and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford star in this entertaining Xbox Live commercial. As we hear commentators and pundits sing their praises, the pair are immersed in their respective ‘zones’. Still, something’s a little off about their warm-ups. We’ve seen the light stretches and noise-cancelling headphones before, but… a hand spa?

"Swear Like a Mother"
1 min 35s
5 May 2017
Kraft Mac and Cheese poke fun at not only the image of the unflappable mother, but also their product's reputation as a last resort in this amusing ad. The film stars Melissa Mohr, author of the book 'Holy Sh*T: A Brief History of Swearing', who explains that 74% of mothers have admitted to swearing in front of their kids - which seems like a low estimate to us.

"The Smyths"
4 May 2017
Lidl Ireland kicks off a new documentary-style campaign with a pair of entertaining ads. Taking inspiration from the likes of Gogglebox and First Dates, the campaign by Chemistry uses a 'TrolleyCam' to get up close and personal with the public as they go about their weekly shop. This film - focusing on the Smyth family - perfectly captures the hectic experience of shopping with children.

Marks & Spencer
"Spend It Well"
4 May 2017
Like Nancy Reagan and the kids from Grange Hill, Marks & Spencer urge us to 'just say "no"' in this splendid commercial marking the start of Valenstein & Fatt's relationship with one of Britain's best-known retailers. But it's mediocrity rather than intravenous drugs that we're being invited to shake our heads at.

Heinz Baked Beanz
3 May 2017
This lovely Heinz Baked Beanz ad does a lot in 30” - something we always appreciate. An office worker greets his Lyrca-clad colleague in the staff kitchen, though he soon wishes he hadn’t. Seems this fitness junkie’s too busy for pleasantries - not with those “ravenous” muscles. A smart piece of work that reminds us healthy eating needn’t be a staid affair.

New Balance
"Dear 677"
3 May 2017
Some say cricket is the supreme numbers game. Runs, bowling averages, the Duckworth-Lewis method… everything counts. This gripping New Balance ad reveals that only 676 players have represented England at Test level… and the team’s new kit maker have a message for whoever’s next in line.

"Life in Numbers"
3 May 2017
From first birthdays and first dates and first jobs and beyond, this skillfully crafted ad for UBS follows one man's life; touching on all the moments which shape him. The scenes are all connected by numbers, building to a final reveal that smart online investment with the advertised bank has allowed him to save up for his daughter's wedding.

"Little Fighters"
2 May 2017
This affecting Pampers commercial draws our attention to newborn babies already facing their toughest battle. Set in Southampton Hospital’s neonatal unit, the ad depicts a handful of plucky infants and their equally determined carers. Whether you have children or not, it’s hard not to be moved by this sequence.

2 May 2017
A giant purple monster gets himself into a syntactic tangle in this entertaining ad for - surprise - recruitment company Monster. The big guy knows how special you are and proceeds to tell you in a vaguely threatening manner... at least until he gets tangled up in his own sentences and needs to pause for thought.

28 Apr 2017
This highly amusing ad from StubHub reminds us that we're unlikely to meet the love of our life at a gig... if we don't go to gigs. That premise builds up to a bonkers musical crescendo as we follow the life of a lad who had the wherewithall to grab some last minute tickets from the site. It's a total contrast to their 'Machines' ad from the same campaign, and we're interested to see where they take things next.

28 Apr 2017
It's not difficult to imagine a world in which artificial intillegence develops a literal mind of its own, and this ad for StubHub presents a nightmarish vision of a future where technology has had enough. In the midst of the apocalypse a man falls to his knees and howls in anguish... for a reason we're not expecting.

Five Star Work

David Reviews - Lovely Lenzie Ltd, Woodbourne House, Seven Sisters, Lenzie, G66 3AW. Telephone: +44 141 776 7766. Editor: Jason Stone.