HSBC’s 40-Year Elevator Ride, Finlandia’s All-Ages Salute: The Top 5 Ads Of The Week

Pizza Hut puts the movies in a box, Virgin Media puts an owl in OITNB, and Patagonia helps tell a heartbreaking story about friendship.

HSBC’s 40-Year Elevator Ride, Finlandia’s All-Ages Salute: The Top 5 Ads Of The Week
[Pizza Photo: Images.etc via Shutterstock]

What constitutes good brand content? It’s a question that’s been debated, discussed and dissected for centuries because it is such a wide open, endlessly debatable and ultimately, useless question. The simplest answer is often the best, which is to say, if people actually want to spend time with it, it’s good. In fact, some marketers should consider it a success if people don’t actively want to maim themselves, or someone associated with the brand, after seeing it.


This week’s Top 5 is a buffet of different kinds of brand work. HSBC and Finlandia serve straight-up ad fare, that is still able to entertain and engage like any interesting content. Virgin Media doubles down on brand and makes a spot for not only its brand, but for Netflix and the new season of Orange is the New Black, all in one. Pizza Hut in Hong Kong made a pizza box into a movie projector, while Patagonia helped finance, but ultimately took a mostly silent role in, an amazing short film. All unique in their own way except one: Quality.

Read on for more about our picks of this week’s best in brand creativity.

Patagonia “Denali”

What: A beautiful, heartbreaking and inspiring story of a dog’s last goodbye to his best friend.
Who: Ben Moon, Ben Knight, Skip Armstrong, Patagonia
Why We Care: Okay, it’s a reach to credit this to the brand–it is entirely Moon, Knight and Armstrong’s project–but! Even if just as a financial backer, this is exactly the kind of content more brands should be supporting without being concerned with it being BRAND CONTENT. Patagonia isn’t worried about its logo here, but the brand is seamlessly weaved into the film, whether through past associations with Knight and Moon, or shots of Denali curled up in one of its jackets.


HSBC “Lift”

What: A 90-second film chronicling the 40-year career of one businessman, from the launch of his new enterprise in 1974 to today, all viewed from one elevator.
Who: HSBC, Grey London
Why We Care: It’s a compelling story, told with impressive attention to era detail like hair, fashion, and elevator interiors, and with no dialogue. But by showing the ups and downs of a single business in such an intimate way, the bank is also able to convey its understanding that a business is also personal journey for people, and–particularly amidst some serious image issues–itself as more than a faceless institution.

Finlandia “1,000 Years Of Less Ordinary Wisdom”

What: A stylish short film featuring varied cast of 14 different people, whose collective ages amount to 1,000 years, dispensing some “less ordinary” life advice.
Who: Finlandia, Wieden + Kennedy London
Why We Care: A few things. First, director Siri Bunford makes this look as stylish and inspiring as the people in it. Second, we hear from older people without it feeling like a pandering nod to aged wisdom. And third, c’mon, The Mountain from Game of Thrones (Hafthór Júlíus Björnsson) is in there.

Virgin Media “Orange Is The New Black On Netflix: Ally McNab”

What: A spoof from the U.K. broadband provider that somehow gets its owl mascot a role on the hit Netflix show.
Who: Virgin Media, Netflix, BBH London
Why We Care: It’s funny and original enough to convince Netflix and OITNB stars to let an owl walk into Litchfield Penitentiary and make a name for itself on the inside through violence and intimidation. It also manages to be an ad for the brand, the show and Netflix, all in one. Win-win-win.


Pizza Hut “Movie Projector Box”

What: A limited edition pizza box in Hong Kong that doubles as a projector for customers’ smartphones, making pizza and movie night completely mobile.
Who: Pizza Hut, Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong
Why We Care: An unexpected use of a common object that surprises and delights. It’s really as simple as that and given how far and wide word of this cool pizza box has spread beyond Hong Kong, it’s something the brand should definitely think about trying in more markets.


About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity.