Death becomes them.
Filmmakers Daniel Titz and Dorian Lebherz came to prominence last year with the breathtaking "Dear Brother" spec ad for Johnnie Walker. That spot, with 7 million views across all platforms, put an evocative spin on the concepts on brotherly love, freedom and the ties that bind this world to the next.
Now, the creative duo, students at the Film Academy of Baden-Württemberg in Germany, return with another stylish meditation on matters of life and death. Unlike their Johnnie Walker ad, with its ethereal, poetic vibe, this new spot traffics in stylish black humor to play up the safety advantages of Volvo's Autonomous Driving system.
Is it spec? You bet your life it is. That said, the directors got Volvo's blessing before going ahead. "We contacted Volvo to ask about some of their brand new models," Lebherz tells AdFreak. "We knew that was a little risky with that script, but we wanted [to show] a car that had not been released at that time. And actually, we were a little bit surprised when they told us it was OK."
Heck, as long the car doesn't kill anyone—and the fleabags don't get flattened—why should Volvo object?
Aiming for an English-village feel, the team shot for two days in Ludwigsburg, near the film school in Stuttgart, and took great care getting the tongue-in-cheek music just right.
"It took a lot of time finishing the song," says Lebherz. "At the beginning, we had thought of a child's song with a kid singing the ABCs. [Music house] Yessian produced it, but it didn't work at all, as you totally lost empathy for the people living in the village. After trying out different tracks, the idea of an old Frank Sinatra-type song came up."
With about 25,000 YouTube views in its first few days online, "ABC of Death"—which owes a conceptual debt to Edward Gorey's book The Gashlycrumb Tinies—has a long way to go to catch last year's "Dear Brother," which generated 4 million views on that site alone.
"Dear Brother" won't be getting anymore eyeballs there in the short term, however, as the site recently removed the clip after a producer in England complained that Titz and Lebherz stole their idea. The German duo deny that and are working to get their film reinstated.
So, for now, on YouTube, "ABC of Death" will have to represent the pair's affinity for morbidity. Meanwhile, this recent Aldi ad (work for a paying client) finds the directors enthusiastically embracing life.
Volvo, "ABCs of Death" (Spec)
Concept: Dorian & Daniel
Directors: Dorian & Daniel
Director of Photography: Jan David Günther
Producers: Celina Finger, Madlen Folk
Production Design Mona Otterbach
Editor: Raquel Caro Nunez
Music: Yessian Music
Composers: Ralf Denker, Ingmar Rehberg
Sound Design: Marvin Keil