Director Sune Sorensen creates highly emotional TVC for BMW to launch during Ramadan
Ramadan is a globally significant month, observed by hundreds of millions of people worldwide each year. With 1.8 billion Muslims Ramadan is becoming as important for advertisers as Christmas or the Superbowl. Since Ramadan is the month of giving and generosity, Brands - especially Automotive - offer consumers discounts on their products or services, which clutters the Automotive advertising landscape in the region. So BMW wanted to stand out from the car commercial masses with a TV spot that pulls at the heartstrings.
Director Sune Sorensen collaborated with Serviceplan Middle East on a story about two brothers, who reconcile during Ramadan (the month of forgiveness). Sorensen’s interpretation of the narrative turned into a beautifully told story that takes the audience on an emotional journey in which a father struggles with the heartbreaking memories of his brother, with whom he has had a falling out years ago. The denouement portrays a powerful moment of reconciliation where forgiveness wins over stubbornness and pride. The epic TVC has a cinematically stunning aesthetic and the director wanted to emphasize the importance of putting aside our ego and to forgive, in particular during a month such as the Ramadan, where families get together.
Director Sune Sorensen: “I was equally humbled and excited to take part in this - it felt like one of those very special moments with a message that really resonated with me. Life is too short to waste it on pride or ego - we only stand to lose that way. And we gain so much from forgiveness and reconciliation. Love always wins.”
Filmed in Lebanon during a 2-day shoot, the commercial features Elie Mitri, a Lebanese actor Sorensen had spotted in a Grand-Prix award-winning film.
Serviceplan Middle East conceived the campaign and Sorensen worked closely with the creatives throughout; Worldwide ECD, Jason Romeyko; ACD (Copy), Wayne Fernandes; and ACD (Art), Victor Farias.
Sorensen continued: “The client and agency took a great leap of faith with me on this film. What started off as a 30 second commercial ended up as an epic 3 minute one-take, and it took a lot of courage for everyone to understand the value of that. I wanted to portray the film’s emotional development with a sense of immediacy by creating a proximity to the actor and his feelings of distress and turmoil while they happened. A pain that nor he, or we, could escape from because they appeared in the moment. This meant going beyond the natural boundaries of traditional commercials - to allow space for the internal process to externalize and to allow uncompromising authenticity with the characters. The strength of this approach became apparent almost the second we started shooting. The actors had room to truly convey their emotional distance and Elie could dig deep into his character’s feelings of remorse and resentment for not being able to reconcile with his brother during such an important month of the year - it was very hard to watch, even behind the camera, and let's just say the actors were not the only ones crying. The experience was very moving.”
The commercial will be featured across on TV across the entire MENA region on Rotana Khaleejiah + MBC Drama (MENA) and Dubai TV. It will also air online for the GCC region, and on social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube). There is a full-length directors’ cut as well as 15 second TV trailers and 1 minute cuts for social platforms.
In the Director’s Cut, the film features a very famous song, “Say Something” by A Great Big World (it has several billion hits across social platforms and music streaming services). About the choice of song, Sorensen says: “I spent a great deal of effort getting this song. It meant the world to me. In fact, it so much so that I got in contact with Ian Axel and Chad King personally to convince them why their song was the only right song for me. Everything about this film came naturally to me, it almost spilled out of me, but I needed to feel the music in a way that was equally profound and instant. I adapted over 400 songs to the film during post production and we even composed several of our own but none of them felt right. Until I found “Say Something”. Not just because it was poetic, painful and beautiful, but because it told our story exactly the way I always imagined. The song’s emotional progression matched the narrative and actor perfectly, but the song was also meaningful on more levels. Amongst other, I found it symbolically fitting that many people know the song with Christina Aguilera’s voice - thus eliciting a sense of lost companionship similar to that of the story, but on a very personal level directly with the audience themselves - they will be anticipating her voice, but it never comes, and instead we get this powerful, solitary voice of a man in pain - exactly like our actor.”