In honor of Super Bowl Sunday, short film of the week is focusing on two incredible commercials. Neither of these has ever graced the Super Bowl, but they’re more than worth a look. Now, fair warning, you won’t see celebrities or bikinis in either ad. The focus in both commercials is their tight, compelling storytelling.

We’ve touched before on the difficulties of telling a complete story in a short amount of time and the thought that must back each word and image. Commercials, of course, have the added complexity of trying to sell you something while telling you a story. When they are done well, they’re really an art form.

Each of these commercials manages to also address social issues while pushing their agendas. The first example comes from Bell’s Whiskey and was made for South African TV. Clocking in at 2 minutes, this ad absolutely feels like a short film. In fact, it’s takes you on such an emotional journey it’s a bit startling at the end. You realize this lovely story of an older gentleman learning to read is crafted to push scotch. Aside from that practical letdown, it’s a great piece of work and let’s give credit where credit is due: the idea to celebrate literacy while selling alcohol is a unique approach. Other than the bump at the end, this is well crafted, well executed, and does a fantastic job of tugging at the heartstrings.

In the second example, Belgium based Zazoo takes a completely different approach with their ad. Full disclosure, this is my favorite commercial of all time. At only 41 seconds, this ad is all about humor. The product reveal at the end (which I won’t mention as it will spoil the surprise) is so seamlessly integrated it functions as a punchline for the joke you don’t even realize the story is building toward.

So, for those of you who don’t have the time or inclination to invest in the drama of the big game tonight, here’s your quota of laughter and tears in less than 3 minutes. Enjoy!

Know of a film that you think would make a great “Short of the Week?” Drop me a line at shannon AT