A salute to one of the best cinema advertising campaigns in recent memory: the Orange Film Board.

In September 2009, a corporate decision was taken that would mark the end of the best cinema advertising campaign of the 2000s so far. Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom decided to merge their UK arms – T-Mobile and Orange respectively – into one company. Then, three years later, the rebrand came along. The Orange name was disappearing, and now the whole operation would be known as EE.

Gone were Orange Wednesdays – EE Wednesdays presumably sound a bit too Yorkshire – and gone was the Orange Film Board.

Note that this is not an advertising feature. We’re talking about a defunct brand. What’s more, as far as we’re concerned, use any phone operator that makes you happy.

Orange, then. Keen to ally itself with cinema, it put cash into Orange Wednesdays – not Meerkat something or other, as it would become – and backed it with an advertising campaign. Not just any, either: The Orange Film Board, a bunch of corporate suits who don’t care about the nuances of a film, as long as they can plug their phones. They were the work of creative agency Mother London (Bryan Buckley at Hungry Man directed most of these), and every time I sit through the Meerkats dicking around, I try and remember these happier times.

Oftentimes, I’d sit and watch these adverts, and enjoy them more than the film that followed. Here are some of the highlights, and I’ll end with my all-time favourite…

Let’s start with Oscar-winning Spike Lee…

Here’s how they came up with the name ‘Orange Wednesdays’

Macaulay Culkin, meanwhile, gets hired to make a film. And it doesn’t go to plan…

The Phone Box Killer, meanwhile, took a small aim at the Scream franchise, with a dash of Michael Madsen too…

Even Star Wars wasn’t safe, this one turning up around the release of Revenge Of The Sith. The “bye bye Darth Vader” hum is perfect, and “Darth, thought you were dead” is a fine opening line…

The late, great Carrie Fisher appeared, with a Star Wars nod too…

Talking of late greats, how about Roy Scheider? Pitching his film noir…

There was sort of a sequel to that one too…

Val Kilmer’s attempts to make a western about delivering a message?

When Ewan McGregor tried to get funding for a project about making poverty history…

Beware meeting the late Dennis Hopper on a bus…

And the brilliant, late Patrick Swayze’s mute assassin pitch…

How does Sean Astin follow Lord Of The Rings? How about like this. Stay around for the gag at the very end as Astin leaves the room…

Danny Glover in Dial Hard?

Giving notes to Snoop about off-peak calls…

And then my all-time favourite. Starts with a Caddyshack reference, takes the piss out of Steven Seagal. “Sayonara Seagal” remains my favourite line of the lot…

After a decade-long run, the adverts came to an end in 2010. The first had run in 2003, and 24 ads were created in all, headlined by the characters of Dresden (played superbly by Brennan Brown) and Elliot (Steve Furst). At the time, Orange left the door open for their return, but the pair – and their antics – were ultimately trapped by the corporate rebranding that shortly followed.

May their work never be forgotten…

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