19 Mind-Bending Videos From Advertising’s Stop-Motion Master

A retrospective of PES' peculiar creations

Short film maestro PES has just signed with BlinkInk, a sensible arrangement that positions the guy who made Honda's Emmy-nominated "Paper" under the same roof as the Layzell Bros (of Harvey Nichols' "Shoplifters") and Greg Barth (whose Hello Play! 360-degree video has the kind of dreamworld weirdness that Michel Gondry pines for).

To celebrate—because we'll take any excuse to celebrate—we've compiled this handy retrospective of ads PES has directed over the years. 

PES first drew attention with "Roof Sex," a short piece where two armchairs bang upholstery, in 2001. Since then he's directed over 50 TV commercials, which shouldn't surprise you: Not only did he study English Lit at the University of Virginia; he's also got ad land roots (like Bowie!). After school, he moved to New York, where he joined the creative department at McCann-Erickson. What would Don Draper say?

In 2005, he released three pieces for Coinstar. In the first, coins escape from all their hiding places (like spiders!) and band to create a stiletto shoe. The tagline: "What could your change be?"

Next up was "Book," where coins serve as typewriter buttons, ink and even book binding and pages.

By the third, "Gift," we can smell the iron on our skin as we mentally unwrap that big gravity-defying bow (fun fact: It isn't the smell of coins that makes your hands stink after tossing a handful about; it's the chemical reaction of your bodily oils to iron):

That same year, PES started working with Bacardi to create a funny series of travel-themed ads.

Here's "Bottle Rocket":

Next up, "Submarine," "Train" and "Yacht":

In 2006, Orange Telecom snapped him up for a charming hide-and-seek piece featuring socks (thus explaining why you're always missing one or two):

We're just warming up.

In 2007, PES released "Human Skateboard" for the now defunct shoe brand Sneaux, whose mantra was "Out of boredom comes greatness." While Sneaux is gone, both the ad and that phrase remain relevant. (Click the link to watch; embedding's been disabled.)

Also in 2007, Sprint released its PES-directed ad about an armchair traveler, who manages to get around without ever actually getting up. It should be a comfort to know this armchair isn't the same one that got it on on the roof … though it looks like things may be headed in that direction.

Around the same time, PES released a pair of PSP ads. This time, instead of breathing life into objects, he gives humans rubbery cartoon qualities.

Here's "Fred", which feels a lot like a precursor to Snapchat lenses:

And "Milo and Maria":

Like Scrabble? In 2008, PES released a satisfying piece for Diamond Scrabble, which will make you want to bust your board out and swish tiles around.

We love the look and feel, but especially the way everything sounds—overly crisp everyday ear candy that feels like life, amplified. It should come as no surprise that one of PES' biggest influences is Czech surrealist Jan Švankmajer, whose gritty take on "Alice in Wonderland" is filled with crunchy homegrown noises.

That same year, director Michel Gondry was quoted in Paste Magazine as saying, "Clicking on a PES film is to open a safe and suddenly see a million ideas glittering and exploding. The only reason you close the door is to re-open it just after and discover what will pop this time."

Around 2009, O2 signed PES to direct an ad for Joggler, a standup tablet that preceded the iPad, and whose primary feature was a calendar. In the ad, a paper family leaps off the fridge and to the Joggler … to organize their schedule. Which is as good a reason as any to come to life.

Next came the joyous union of Powerball and Mega Millions balls for the Washington State Lottery, in 2010. We like how they take a minute to deliberate before mixing:

In 2011, Kinder Surprise hatched "Plane," which feels like a more conventional ad, but still manages to convey PES' knack for bringing the inanimate to life. 

 

CitizenM opened its New York Times Square location in 2014. To demonstrate how different it is from other hotels, it tapped PES to create "Swan Song," where two artfully folded towels swish romantically about on your bedspread … until something horrible happens.

You'll probably recognize this next one. PES' 2015 "Paper" ad for Honda looks deceptively simple, illustrating the notion that every complex vehicle starts with a few sketches. But the ad itself took months to make, and features thousands of hand-drawn illustrations from a menagerie of artists, exploring Honda's mobility products through time.

"Paper" won "Automobile Advertising of the Year" at the One Show, and scored an Emmy award nomination for "Outstanding Commercial of 2016." The Museum of Modern Art, and the Louvre's Museum of Advertising, also added it to their permanent collections. A behind-the-scenes—with commentary from PES—is available here.

Later that year, Android tapped PES to direct "Fingerprints," a fun spot featuring costumed finger people in "meticulously crafted miniature environments." They eventually all unite under the tagline "Be together. Not the same."

We're going to wrap with something more personal than commecial. Apart from "Roof Sex," one of PES' best known projects is the playfully retro "Game Over," released in 2006. The original video scored over 16 million views since it was republished on YouTube in 2008.

This month, PES released an official HD version, so we can discover it all over again from the comfort of a super-sharp Retina display. Enjoy.