giffgaff 'The Big Swim' by Sean Thompson

giffgaff 'The Big Swim' by Sean Thompson
  • By David Knight
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In the pantheon of great British commercials, there are plenty of ads that are brilliant exactly because they are beautifully imaginative, well-crafted visuals applied to a fantastic piece of music. The whole of the Levi's campaign that started with the 'Laundrette' ad in the 80s worked on that premise. That doesn't seem to happen so much now. But here is the new giffgaff ad, The Big Swim, to remind us why that kind of ad is the best kind of ad. 

Directed by Sean Thompson of 'anti-agency' Who What Why, it not only has a great track - The Walker Brothers' version of Stay With Me Baby, with Scott Wlaker at his majesterial best – the video has a central concept which just has that 'why did no-one think of that before' aspect you can also get with a brilliant music video.

There's also comedy there, and ultimately it all works with the central message about the 'no-contract' nature of giffgaff. And this certainly seems to be saying that giffgaff is not just for teenagers. The swimming pool and diving theme also has that Nineties richness that makes you think of the brilliant ad (Levi's again, I think) with Dinah Washington singing Mad About The Boy...

From the director


"Directing THE BIG SWIM is a dream come true. I joked that I wanted to create the audacious love child of Esther Williams and Stanley Kubrick, with all the theatrical and epic scale that that idea brings. I hope people see something of that vision in the final piece.

I wanted to make something that was magical and theatrical, so the blend of old and new film techniques was massively important. I chose to use model making, enhanced by CGI, to give handmade charm and epic scale. The Space Station and Mars Rover were hand crafted in London and were delivered to the sets in South Africa, where the Art Department designed the full size space station's nose and the lunar and Mars surfaces. The models were hand puppeteered on set.

"We cast an actress with wirework skills honed on a martial arts movie. She had to have the core strength to be able to hang suspended from a crane at the pool location, in the studio and work freely underwater.

"The film was beautifully photographed by Tim Maurice-Jones and seamlessly as well as technically edited by John Mayes at Marshall Street. The Mill London did a magnificent job in building the theatrical twinkly solar system of planets and star systems: integrating our modeling, wire, location and underwater work throughout. The Mill handled the work as they do on movies, with a room full of visual effects talent who were each doing a specific piece of the complex jigsaw. This film was all about magical theatre, not a stargazer's view - it presented a world where a swimmer dived head first into space and bombed back down to earth after all."


Sean Thompson
Production Company
Dark Energy Films
Director of Photography
Tim Maurice Jones
John Mayes

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