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Opinion and Insight

Putting the Heart in Commercial Filmmaking with Southwest Productions

Lisbon-based production service company creates beautifully poetic adverts

Putting the Heart in Commercial Filmmaking with Southwest Productions

Lisbon-based production service company Southwest Productions has been serving clients across the world since 1993. It has serviced commercials and music videos, and been involved in the production of TV series, documentaries, short and feature films, and organised stills shoots.

Over the past twelve months, the Southwest team has been servicing productions in a number of locations across the globe - from epic chases through the Brazilian favelas, to super cool car promos in Portugal. Here, we round up a selection of Southwest’s most impressive campaigns of the year…

There’s a certain poetic depth that elevates Southwest’s commercial films; the emotional intensity and visual artistry is a breath of fresh air from the over-polished, artificial style of traditional commercials. 

The production service company is an expert at tapping into situations and characters we can identify with and capturing a new perspective that puts sustainability at the forefront.

We’ve put together a list of recent Southwest projects that exemplify its creative approach:

Volkswagen UP! ‘The Beat’

Directed by: Markus Steiner

Shot entirely in Lisbon with a mainly local cast, this was the global launch film for the new VW UP! – The Beat. The car brand teams up with uber-cool audio manufacturer Beats, and the Southwest team harness the cast’s joyous exploration of the city to help create an uncontrived representation of youth that appeals to a younger audience in a more authentic way. 

As an urban playground and space of unlimited self-expression, Lisbon’s colourful aesthetic perfectly complements Volkswagen UP!’s spirit of individualisation. More stylistically akin to a music video than an ad, this spot avoids the traditional voice-over in favour of a more natural montage. It showcases multiple hand-picked locations at different times of the day to reflect the fast-paced, exciting lifestyle of Volkswagen UP!’s target audience.

XXL ‘Sport Unites All’

Directed by: Stein & Mårlind

With offices in Spain, Brazil, and Portugal, Southwest’s production expertise is truly international. In the run-up to this year’s Rio Olympics, it helped Norwegian sports brand XXL shoot an advert in Rio de Janeiro, featuring football legend Ronaldinho. 

XXL’s ‘Airport Love’ campaign, which launched just prior to the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics, responded to Russia’s shoddy LGBT+ rights record. This latest ad champions a similarly socially-conscious and politically-engaged message that celebrates the indiscriminate power of sport to unite people from all walks of life. 

An adrenaline-packed chase scene takes the audience on a thrilling journey through the sprawling urban jungle, inviting us to experience the wonders of the city from a child’s perspective, whilst showcasing Rio de Janeiro’s bustling and dynamic character.

Having serviced productions in many parts of the world, Southwest understands how to cater to local markets and that each country requires a personalised approach. 

One Call 

Directed by: Jesper Ericstam

Southwest channels the quirky and bizarre humour of Scandi ‘social-realism’ in this campaign for Norwegian Phone Operator, One Call. One of eight films that Southwest serviced for the Norwegian market to be released on broadcast and online, the relatable setting of this advert reflects the comedy found in these mundane situations and taps into the unique sense of humour native to this market.

LG Television

Directed by: Dae Eol Yoo

In South Korea, adverts with strong and clean visuals are far more effective, and the Southwest team delivered this polished aesthetic for LG Television to promote their 2016 ‘Signature’ series. 

The location plays a key role here in conveying the elegance and quality of the brand and product, as a violinist plays in a huge hall against a colourful stained-glass backdrop. In a brilliantly-executed twist, the stained-glass turns out to be comprised of LG’s new Signature TV sets and, as the sun goes down and the light illuminating the glass dims, the stain-glass characters on the LG screens play in harmony with the soloist.


Directed by: Piotr Janowski

While the Southwest team excels at creating unique ads that exude emotional honesty and breath-taking visuals, they’re also skilled at delivering more traditional TV spots. 

This advert for Danone’s Danio centres around a fun buddy-cop theme and features a night-time car chase through gritty generic US urban streets from an ugly little monster called ‘The Grumbler’ who appears when people are hungry. 

The campaign follows on for another Southwest-serviced campaign for the brand, this time shot in the coastal area of Guincho, west of Lisbon, and doubling for Cornwall as the film was for the UK market. As you can see below, The Grumbler strikes again, this time chasing the heroes along the breath-taking “Cornish” coast.

Directed by: Terry Rietta

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Genre: Action , Documentary , Photography , Scenic , Storytelling , choreography