Throwback Thursday: It’s all about “epic storytelling” for McCann NY’s Nathy Aviram

In this week’s Throwback Thursday, Nathy Aviram, chief production officer at McCann New York, tells ClickZ about the storytelling behind his favorite ads.

If you’ve ever ordered a Guinness from a bar, surely you noticed how much longer it takes to pour than any other beer. A 1998 spot from AMV BBDO, “Swim Black” took that pain point and made it into a positive. The ad centered on a champion swimmer from Italy who, in his old age, still swam an annual race against a Guinness tap.

The man still wins because it takes 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect pint. The announcer added, “The best time is kept when you don’t wind your watch too tight.”

“I like the epic storytelling. The way it integrates the brand and the local hero, measured by this race against the froth of the beer is amazing,” says Nathy Aviram, chief production officer at McCann New York. “It looked like the Olympic Games. It is Old World where you can see these two brothers sitting around a cafe telling this story during the other 364 days a year where the race doesn’t happen. It’s obviously funny, but there is some truth to it and it’s just beyond.”

Aviram also likes the production value and the setting. “Swim Black” filmed in Monopoli, an Adriatic seaside village in the Italian bootheel. The crowd scenes were all made up of locals.


Aviram also liked the production value of “Angry Chicken,” which Wieden+Kennedy executed for Nike in 2002. In a scene reminiscent of a James Bond movie, a man jumps off balconies, scales walls and generally runs for his life as he’s chased by “le poulet en colere,” or the angry chicken.

There’s the camerawork – “Angry Chicken” was almost certainly challenging to shoot, given the protagonist’s complicated Parkour moves – but also the style. “The Angry Chicken” was shot for the U.S. market, but the commercial was still in French first and then dubbed over in English.

“The way it was shot was almost like a National Geographic film,” he says. “[Both ads] use voiceovers and do it so differently and in this one, it’s used for comedic effect. It’s just pulled off so perfectly because of the way they made it feel so documentary.”


What draws Aviram to both of these ads is the storytelling, something he feels you don’t see quite as much of today.

There are approximately 1 million different ways to reach consumers on the Internet, but before the digital explosion, there weren’t that many marketing channels. As a result, advertisers weren’t spread as thin.

“These days, clients are asking for more and more content. Both spots remind me of the days where you put a lot more care into the craft,” he says.

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