What makes an ACES winning ad? Last year's finalists have some tips

By Lindsay Bennett | 22 December 2015

The ACES awards are back in 2016 and ads that can make audiences laugh or cry, or sometimes even both, seem to have the edge.

Last year’s ACES saw humour at the forefront, with Budget Direct's Captain Risky’s failed stunt attempts from 303Lowe and Aldi's Jonah teaching his friends (unsuccessfully) how to surf in the snow from BMF making an appearance.

We spoke to 303Lowe ECD Richard Morgan, BMF’s executive creative director Cam Blackley and The Monkey's ECD Scott Nowell about the inspiration behind their 2014 finalists and what makes a good ad.

What makes a good cinema ad to you?

Richard Morgan: They have to be visually engaging and highly polished. People go to the cinema seeking an experience, to be captivated and even transported to another world for a couple of hours. Let's face it; the benchmarks set by films themselves with the backing of major studios are high. If your brand is going to play in that arena, you have to look like you're on a somewhat equal footing.

Cam Blackley: I’m in a story frame of mind in a cinema so something epic with a great tale works for me.

Scott Nowell: The cinema is a unique environment for commercial films. Audiences are in that environment specifically to be entertained, so a good cinema spot is something that genuinely entertains or moves people. On most other screens a bad effort will be ignored. In the cinema, you've got a bloke sitting there, focussed on the screen, going "That's bullshit." Instant unfiltered reaction. So if you want to get a sense for how real citizens are reacting to your masterpiece, go and sit in a cinema where it's on.

Why do you think BMF’s Perfect Aussie Christmas for Aldi Australia caught the judges eye?

Blackley: It’s a nice story and loaded with little repeat viewing moments from Aussie culture.

Why do you think Captain Risky was nominated for the ACES last year?

Morgan: I think there’s a fun juxtaposition between the epic quality of Captain Risky’s stunts and how spectacularly he fails in all of them. It gives the spot an originality and watchability.
Of course it’s also an ad – and just like a movie needs a clear premise and story arc to work – so does an ad, albeit in a much shorter time frame. We worked hard to ensure it makes a very clear point.

Do you like to see more humour or emotion in ads?

Morgan: I personally love humour, it's just fun to make. Humour is also the most practical way to cut through and get a point or story across in the space of 30 seconds or so. It's incredibly hard to make someone care deeply and really bring emotion to the fore in a tightly constricted timeframe.

You might be crying your eyes out by the end of a movie, but not in a minute or less. But you can easily tell a joke and make someone laugh. Where possible though, emotion can really work.

Blackley: We are more known for our humour at BMF but I don’t discriminate.

Nowell: The world will never tire of either and neither will I. 

Why do you think MLA’s ad by The Monkeys won last year’s award?

Morgan: It's easy to fall for an ad that is full of characters we all love. It was a nice way to broaden the story away from Sam Keckovich and make him just one character from an ensemble cast of famous Australians. 

Blackley: It was a lot of fun and had Ritchie Benaud. Ritchie was the clincher.

Nowell: It was a surprising and well-executed piece of film that was very popular around the country. We were very lucky to work with Richie Benaud before his passing last year. 

Do you think it takes a big budget to produce a winning ad?

Morgan: No but you have to be very clever in how you deliver the spot. Cinema does generally call for a premium feel, so if you don't have a big budget, one needs to be very selective about what and how you shoot. Do a few simple things well. 

Blackley: I think that’s historically right and it certainly helps.

Nowell: No. We certainly didn't have a massive budget for last year's ad.

To celebrate the new ACES awards, Val Morgan is offering a private screening for the advertising hot shots that can name more than 30 of the 60 brands that appear in this sizzle reel. Entries that name more than 30 correctly will be placed in a draw and a winner selected at random. Think you know ads? Check them out here.

The entry deadline for the ACES Awards is also 23 December, so make sure you get it in tomorrow. 

You should download your entry kit, here.

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