Dubai Tourism’s modern twist on BMW Films

—Two short films starring Jessica Alba and Zac Efron leave viewers wanting more, and maybe that’s the point, says Craig Redmond—

“IT’S HERE!” That was the proclamation, missile-launched down the agency hall by our executive producer, Cynthia Heyd.

Once a month, Cynthia generously hosted our creative department with a viewing of the Shots Reel, trying to light an inspirational flame beneath our bums with a showcase of the latest, and breathtakingly greatest, commercial work from around the world.

But that month’s reel was particularly special. Because it featured the BMW Films series called The Hire: Eight, 10-minute films starring Clive Owen and directed by cinema A-listers like Guy Ritchie, Ang Lee and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu.

The series was released over time on the BMW website. But that was 20 years ago. And the hamsters powering our internet wheels just didn’t have the bandwidth legs for it. So, we waited for this moment. And oh my, how our patience was rewarded.

Conceived by creative deity David Lubars during his Fallon Minneapolis days, The Hire was the very first piece of rich advertising content on the internet, and years ahead of its time. It was long before YouTube and Facebook, which are still starved for ad content as worthy.

To a person, staring at Cynthia’s monitor, none of us could believe what we had just witnessed.

Yet despite its glory and effectiveness (BMW sales increased 17% after The Hire’s release) and all the other long-format web content that later mirrored its success, few marketers these days are willing to make that creative investment.

I think they, and perhaps their agency partners, are convinced that today’s average user has the attention span of a fruit fly, high on fumes orbiting a glass of rose, and can’t commit past 60 seconds.

This might explain why ad agency Mother and its client didn’t go all-in with this ingenious campaign for Dubai Tourism, which showcases the travel destination as a backdrop for new films.

These two “Dubai Presents” spoofs are masterfully composed by acclaimed director Craig Gillespie. The spy thriller and rom-com shorts pay dutiful homage to their respective genres, and the performances given by Jessica Alba and Zac Efron are truly charming. The richly vivid setting of Dubai is beguiling in its tapestry of the modern and ancient, the exotic and familiar, the exhilarating and serene.

But these are only just trailers, and leave one desperately pining for more. No doubt making the strategic wager that viewers will want to visit Dubai, so as to create their own cinematic worthy adventure.

Still, I really wish they’d gone the full monty route of BMW Films.