Ad Nut
Feb 15, 2019

Can we talk about Ridley Scott directing ads?

Hennessy and Turkish Airlines splash out on films by the legendary director, but is it a case of big budgets signifying nothing?

For Alien and Blade Runner alone, Ridley Scott should be able to direct whatever the hell he wants and get paid handsomely for it, forever and ever amen.

And he is doing exactly that.

What Ad Nut's less sure about is why brands continue to hire him. Take two recent high-profile examples. 

The first, 'The journey', for Turkish Airlines (above), through Anomaly, is a longer version of a 30-second spot that aired during the Super Bowl. It's got great cinematography, a mysterious, espionage-y scenario that sucks you in, and Sylvia Hoeks (who was also in Blade Runner 2049).

However, the expenditure of what was no doubt an astronomical budget boils down to such an amazingly shallow sell (spoiler alert: Hoeks doesn't care if she ever catches the woman she's pursuing, because she enjoys flying Turkish Airlines so much) that Ad Nut ended up feeling cheated and kind of enraged.

It also makes a better ad for Turkey's department of tourism than it does for the airline, to be honest. More to the point, it seems like it could have been directed by any competent filmmaker and been just as compelling. So the question is: Is the incremental value of having Ridley Scott's name attached worth the incremental cost of hiring him? Perhaps Turkish Airlines has such a high budget that it doesn't care. Personally, Ad Nut thinks this recently released film might be a better marketing vehicle for the airline.

Next we have 'The seven worlds', for Hennessy by DDB Paris. 

Ad Nut's eyes are agog. This film is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The company explains that it's a conceptual exploration of the seven tasting notes of the company's XO cognac. Why that premise resulted in a sci-fi epic is not explained. Clearly, the brand let Scott do whatever the hell he wanted, and he wanted to do this. 

So we get, among other things, a group of space explorers, wearing headlamps, mining some sort of honey-like substance from a foggy cave. This scene is so purposely reminiscent of Alien that Ad Nut was bracing for the jump-scare when the face hugger attacks. We also get a group of gigantic living Oscar statues trekking across a desert, because the film is set to debut during the Academy Awards broadcast.

The whole thing is a bit silly but because it looks cool, Ad Nut enjoyed it thoroughly. But what does Hennessy get out of it, and is it worth paying Scott a princely sum?

Maybe Ad Nut should not worry about this question, and just be happy that we have some pretty videos to look at. If the brands are happy, and Scott's happy, then no harm done.

Personally, Ad Nut would rather see Scott spending his time on real films. Ad Nut's favourite, in addition to the ones already mentioned, is Thelma & Louise, in which Scott for once managed to tie his ample visual talents to a culturally important theme that is as relevant today as it was in 1991.

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


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