Michael Hill provides a diamond in the rough

—In the midst of a dry spell for noteworthy creativity, Craig Redmond was stopped in his tracks when he saw this short film for the retail jewelry brand—

In his own immortal words, Earnest Hemingway described the blank page as a raging white bull. And while I would never dare to compare this weekly scribbling in the same breath as For Whom the Bell Tolls or The Old Man and the Sea, I will say I understand the loathsome trepidation facing any scribe staring at the infinite vacuity and unreachable horizons of a dauntingly clean sheet of parchment.

But in my own peculiar case, that foreboding is less about squeezing prose from the pores, and more about what to pore over and what to pen upon.

Every week I’m faced with the same unnerving dilemma: The absolute dearth of content —or should I say, dearth of quality content—worth critiquing.

With the exception of—I might qualify and quantify—the valuable work coming out of Canada.

While I would love to pontificate about new Subaru sports cars being bottled as hot sauce, or a single marble Cheesestring being marketed for a school cafeteria style trade on a mega billboard in downtown Toronto, I’m not allowed to play the home-field advantage. It’s out of my jurisdiction.

So, I’m going to break one of the cardinal rules I pledged to obey when I started posting about work on LinkedIn to retain my sanity at the dawn of the pandemic, and then later here at The Message. I’m going to, God forbid, double dip.

Albeit just from my own agency communique canapés, served to colleagues last week. So, to all my beloved Grey goslings, you are excused from this week’s reading assignment, as you will no doubt justly deem it to be a familiar dispatch from the Department of Redundancy Department.

But for everyone else, here it be…

Except for campaigns long bygone for The United Colors of Benneton or, most recently, the visually epic efforts for Burberry, fashion advertising tends to reside at the low end of the food chain when it comes to conceptual advertising fare.

And underneath that food chain would be the bottom feeding mollusks of fashion advertising—most jewelry marketers.

No matter what brand it might be, their inevitable cliches of love lost, love regained and love eternal present themselves to an eye-rolling audience whose cynicism only escalates with each step closer to our hallowed ad agency halls.

That’s why I was stopped in my tracks by this effort from Michael Hill, which is probably the most notorious trolling troubadour of them all, tiptoeing its way through the trope-y tulips.

It begins with the black and white cinematography. A monochromatic wedge that forces its way into the optic lobe and dislodges our dismissive viewing defence mechanisms. Then comes the immediate drama of a home ablaze and a family kept helplessly at bay. And then, following a bold, foreshadowing film title, a chronological narrative of happenstance entrepreneurialism that blossoms into dreams come true.

Admittedly, however, it was the music that kept me glued to the three-and-a-half minute film. “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS not only makes my former 20-something heart go pitter patter, but it might just be one of the most definitive lyrical expressions of love’s powerful force—not to mention a spellbinding reminder of music’s unassailable importance to the art of storytelling.

Of course, the skeptic in me just presumed that the effort was an ad agency ruse or a young director’s spec piece that would never live beyond the internet pale.

But then, sure enough, during a Sportsnet break, appeared a 30-second version of “The Jewellers,” trying to lure a guilt-ridden Blue Jays viewer into proposing to his or her better half.  And while sadly abridged, it proved that it was for reals, legit.

I literally had no inkling of the Michael Hill history and how his jewelry empire was conceived. But now that I do, I’ve gained an affinity for the brand, and might even do a drive-by when the next anniversary with my beloved bride approaches.

And who’da thunk? A jewelry ad that not only stood out shiningly in a week of mind-numbingly meh, but a jewelry ad that also scaled a wee bit up the food chain and actually worked.

Michael Hill: The Jewellers

Craig Redmond