Ad of the Day: Stella Artois

Chivalrous suitor loses his clothes in Mother London's latest

There is a tradition in European beer advertising whereby spots—and even entire campaigns—center around heartfelt tales of young love, usually set in an achingly beautiful European city. As it opens, this new Stella Artois spot, "Respect," by Mother London, feels exactly like it is going to be one of those. A young man sits outside a café in what could be Paris but is probably meant to be Brussels, given the provenance of the beer. As in all such commercials, it is set in an earlier, slightly more innocent time—from the looks of the cars, maybe the mid to late '60s. A young, smartly dressed man awaits a glimpse of a young lady on her daily walk, and today is the day he chooses to run after her. As she crosses the road, he lays his coat in a puddle for her to cross. As she gets to the other side of the street, we get the first hint that this is not a standard-issue commercial of the sort we are expecting. She encounters another puddle and nods to him to come over and repeat. He does, this time losing his jacket. It happens again, and he loses his shirt. As another puddle nears, the construct shifts, and the fourth wall is shaken. "Can't we just talk?" he asks. "But we are in a commercial," she replies. Then back to the plot—more clothes are lost until he is down to his boxers. They end up dancing in a bar, he still in his boxers. When they order a drink, a little is spilled on the bar, and we see his boxers thrown down to mop up the liquid. Then, with a quick wink from both protagonists directly to the audience, the fourth wall is demolished, and the spot is over. It is refreshing to see work for Stella that does not take itself as seriously as some recent spots. The device of pulling the audience so directly into the joke is risky, particularly in these post-Old-Spice-guy days. There are too many imitators doing this badly these days, but the gentle touch deployed here makes it effective, delivering a delightful, well-crafted spot that draws the viewer closer to the brand through a shared joke.

Agency: Mother, London
Client: Stella Artois
Director: Patrick Daughters
Producer: Matthew Fone
Line Producer: Charlotte Marmion
Director of Photography: Martin Ruhe
Editor: Joe Guest
Post Production: The Moving Picture Co.
Post Production Producer: Julie Evans
VFX Supervisor: Bill McNamara
Production Company: Riff Raff Films
Production Company: The Directors Bureau
Local Production company: Unt Sofa, Prague
Line Producer: Filip Hejduk
Line Producer: Petra Ondrickova
Production Manager: Veronica Lencova
Production Designer: Petr Kunc
1st AD: Shakir Hafoudh