Ad/Campaign: Guinness Surfer ‘Good things come to those who wait.’

Agency: Abbot Mead Vickers BBDO London

Creatives: Tom Carty, Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer (Director)

“He waits… That what he does… And I tell you what; Tick followed tock followed tick followed tock followed tick…”

Sometimes the best copy for an advert doesn’t come as the result of countless hours spent staring at a wall trying to come up with the perfect balance of creativity, intelligence and commercial impact. Copy that will hit the consumer head on and make them say ‘Wow’. Sometimes classic copy is derived from just that. The classics…

Every once in a while an ad comes along that just blows everyone away. Every element fits together. The concept, the copy, the visuals, the pace, the direction and most importantly the message.

When Copywriter Tom Carty and Art director Walter Campbell came up with the concept for the 1999 Guinness ‘Surfers’ commercial they ticked every one of those boxes.


Carty and Campbell were struggling to come up with a tag line for this thick, draught stout. How could they compete in a market swamped with cold and refreshing lagers? A viscous beverage that took a notoriously long time to serve? They went back to basics and withdrew to their local pub (If in doubt!)  After hours of trying to think of a hook they latched on to the serving time. They sat and timed how long it took to pour the ‘perfect  pint of Guinness.’ 119.5 seconds. They had their jump off point. Turning this seemingly negative aspect into a positive “Good things come to those who wait” was born.

Taking inspiration from the famous 1893 Walter Crane painting ‘Neptune’s Horses’, Carty and Campbell concocted the gorgeous premise of a group of surfers waiting for the perfect wave. With acclaimed ad director Jonathan Glazer in tow they headed to Hawaii in search of the perfect wave. They found the star of the piece, a gentleman by the name of ‘Rusty K’, asleep under a palm tree. Not a particularly great surfer himself, Rusty did have the perfect look Glazer was looking for. A Polynesian surfer with a war torn and weathered face that looked as though he had waited his entire life for the perfect wave, this once in a lifetime experience. The shoot took 9 days, including perfect wave and wipeout footage as well as the blue screen and layering of the white leaping horses over the wave breaks.

“The old sailors return to the bar, HERES TO YOU AHAB!”

The time and effort spent was worth it. The Guinness surfers ad won more awards than any other commercial in 1999 including Clio’s, D&AD’s and Cannes Lions. It was voted the best ad of all time in 2002 in a poll conducted by channel 4 and the Sunday Times.

“And the drummer hit the beat with all his heart.”

The commercial was incredible and did wonders for Guinness, previously a stout that was deemed an old man’s drink. Bottom line, the whole thing was just… cool. This was owed in no small part to the building menace that the ad conveyed by both Glazer’s pacey direction and the use of music (always a major component in a commercial) the muffled beat of a tune called ‘Leftfield’ by Phat Planet that added to the raw animalistic appeal of the piece. The commercial was even shot in black and white giving a more authentic feel as well as keeping with the colouring of a pint of guinness.

The copy? A simple but stirring passage from Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick. A war cry like piece of text that fit the creative imagery perfectly and also struck a chord with a new young market who were seeking their own ‘White Whale’ of success in a competitive and unforgiving world. This new audience were now queuing at the bar for this stout that was world weary with experience (Guinness since 1759) but at the same time incredibly cool and current. They already knew that they would be in for a slightly longer wait than if they were to choose a lager. In fact they knew that it would take exactly 119.5 seconds for their pint to be poured. Fortunately they also knew…

“Good things come to those who wait…”



Ad/Campaign: Coca – Cola ‘The Coke side of life’
Agency: Wieden and Kennedy
Creatives: Al Mosely and John Norman


When it comes to advertising fast moving consumer goods, you can’t rest on your laurels. You aren’t only as good as your last campaign, you are only as good as your next campaign. To keep your brand in the lexicon it is imperative that you churn out bigger and better Ads with each fresh new campaign.
As a FMCG, the brand is constantly in front of the consumer, saturating their everyday lives. The advertising methods as well as the execution of the concept need to be innovative and make your audience sit up and take notice. Be a constant reminder you are out there. The demand may always be there for the supply but thats only relative to the aggressiveness of the market. You are wrestling with the competition for the attention of the consumer so those all important margins are constantly on the rise.
If you can win pride of place right slap bang in front of the consumer when they have your full attention i.e. during the Ad breaks of the super bowl (average audience of 111 million viewers) then congratulations. Mission accomplished.
Creative Directors Al Mosely and John Norman blew threw the doors of Wieden and Kennedy and hit the ground running with the ‘Coke side of life’ campaign.
Building upon Coke’s timeless and universal advertising USP of happiness and positivity, creatives had the perfect opportunity in an unstable, turbulent world of suffering and hurt to offer up an alternative side of life. The side of life that was championed by and one could associate with the drinking of a refreshing bottle of Coca – Cola.
A series of 3 ‘bottle’ campaigns was devised, all featuring humorous and innovative concepts that had kindness and warmth at their core. Originally these 3 films were to be aired as viral efforts, gently nudging a consumer unawares that happiness could be found at the bottom of a frosty coke bottle. The tender loving care and affection that went into the production of the Ad’s radiated out of them, so much so that all 3 made the covered slot at the 2007 Super Bowl. The concept of kindness and happiness translated well across a global audience. The Ads show no conflict of cultures and could be recognised universally.
The first Ad “The Happiness factory” was an epic animation short that finally exposed the ‘truth’ behind what happens behind the scenes when you put your money into the vending machine. A dreamscape sequence of weird and wonderful beings all working towards the same goal of delivering you your Coca – Cola. No attention to detail  too small, no effort too big. Directed by Nexus production’s Adam Foulkes and Alan Smith, chosen because of their previous work on the epic scale of the Honda ‘Grrrr’ campaign, they imagined a world that took the production of a single bottle of Coke to epic scales juxtaposing the menial effort of the consumer dropping a coin into a vending machine.
The second Ad of the campaign that was dreamed up by W + K creatives Sheena Brady and Shannon McGlothin featured a CG spot that looked incredibly familiar to audiences around the world. Grand Theft Auto, the hugely popular and controversial ‘shoot ’em up’ video game that is instantly recognisable by its typically violent premise was turned on its head and given the ‘Coke side of life’ treatment. Twisting the audiences original preconceptions the Ad features a central character that heavily resembles the main protagonist of the game and follows him as he commits various acts such as apprehending a bag thief and sharing a bottle of coke with a passing motorist. Slickly choreographed the good deeds performed by the character become more erratic and flamboyant, at one point on dropping wads of cash into the case of a busker. The busker breaks out into song as the familiar ‘Coke side of life’ circus erupts and joins in with the Paul Williams song ‘Give a little love’. Turning the original violence of GTA on its head and making way for a succession of good deeds was a great way of connecting with a young audience that were already familiar with the concept of the game.

The third Ad ‘First taste’ played on the humorous concept that to taste Coke for the first time was to view life with a new and fresh perspective.  An old man in a nursing home travels the world ticking off wild experiences from an incredibly ambitious bucket list after his first sip of a Coke before asking himself “What else haven’t I Done?”
A question that creatives dealing in FMCG must be constantly asking themselves.


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Ad/Campaign: Budweiser ‘Labels’
Agency: Bmp DDB
Creatives: Jeremy Craigen


Perhaps not as popular as one of ‘The king of beers’ televised stablemates (WHASSUP!!) I personally prefer the more subtle message that this modest little print Ad conveys. It exudes a quaint and comfortable familiarity with brand Budweiser in a minimalistic yet highly intelligent and creative way.
Released in the UK in November 1997 the Budweiser ‘Labels’ Ad was the brainchild of Jeremy Craigen (now executive creative director of DDB London. It demonstrates a lightness of touch, no flashy airbrushed imagery, no tag lines. Its Budweiser, stripped back, no thrills, just truth. Ironically its a modest Ad that is in actual fact taking advantage of its extensive bragging rights. The Ad is demonstrating its credentials as a number one contender amongst global beer brands.
12 Bud labels from the very first up to the present day design, all of them containing elements that make them instantly recognisable as Budweiser such as the red, white and blue colour scheme and the top ribbon over the box beneath. Its an iconic design.
The first of the 12 labels that are evenly presented 4 across and 3 down on the page is ‘Custer’s last stand’, a major event that occurred at the time of Budweiser’s birth and saw in its first label all the way back in 1876. The Ad then goes on to present its other label designs with their accompanying place in time such as ‘The unveiling of the Statue of Liberty’, ‘The end of WW1’ and ‘The first moon landing’. These all mark out iconic stages in American history. The print even includes a nod to the Prohibition years, a time that played a huge part in the history of the consumption of alcohol in America, a time that the Ad embraces as a key moment in Budweiser’s development. The label for this time is conspicuous by its absence.
With all this heritage laid out in plain format, this is Budweiser putting forth its case as an age old reliable product that has consistently stood the test of time as a market leader. This was the beer of choice for America’s ancestors as they experienced the growth of a nation during its adolescence. “This is what your Grandfather’s Grandfather drank.”
Through this simple layout of label designs Budweiser is showing its age and like a lot of products/brands, age is an unrivalled commodity. With age comes experience and a wealth of experience as in all walks of life breeds quality and a voice that demands to be heard and respected. Budweiser has been showing its age in American history and cementing itself as an American icon since 1876.
This is why they don’t need to advertise the product. They advertise the name. The brand that is synonymous in American culture and holds its own connotations of quality, to be enjoyed after working hard and striving for the American dream.
All this is achieved by adding a date in your copy. This is nothing new either, especially amongst brands of a product that needs to be regarded as high quality like alcohol. Other notable brands that have walked down this well trodden path include Jack Daniels (1875), Kronemberg (1664) and Guinness (1759). In fact most beers will include their age.
With this Ad Budweiser is saying “We were there, we are still here, we”ll always be here because we are forever!”
The consumer is asked the question: What will define your Budweiser label’s place in history?
The King of beers? Long may they reign.


Ad/Campaign: Phillips cinema 21:9 LCDtv ‘Carousel’

Agency: Tribal DDB (DDB’s interactive web branch) Amsterdam

Creatives: Adam Berg (Director) and Mark Pytlik (Stinkdigital exec producer)

Below The Line digital CTA (Call To Action) marketing at its most captivating. This Web based short film won The Grand prix in the film category at the Cannes Lions international advertising festival (only the second online advertisement to do so) through its technical mastery and innovative take on digital marketing.

The Ad launched online in January of 2009 was designed to generate interest in the new Phillips cinema 21:9 LCDtv. Phillips contracted Tribal DDB Amsterdam to create a campaign based around a website. Rather than designing a website around the product explaining the television’s all singing all dancing qualities in text, photos and video lectures (essentially laying out all the boring, extensive info in front of the user) the creative team went with an approach which ultimately lead the user to want to find out more of their own accord. The concept of the website was to intrigue the user, to make them experience its different facets all the while spending more time in the company of the product and learning more about it. This approach results in the product being ingrained in the user’s brain turning them into potential consumers. The definition of CTA advertising as the potential consumer does all the work for you.

So to get a visiting web user hooked they had to come up with something so visually interesting that it would compel the click of a mouse to find out more. That something was ‘Carousel’.

A single tracking shot around a frozen set piece with a slowly unfolding narrative. Teaming engaging visuals and a hypnotic score by Michael Fakesch, director Adam Berg was brought on board to capture a similar concept demonstrated in his commercial for JC Jeans. Pre and Post production was provided by London Based production house ‘Stinkdigital’ whose Executive Producer Mark Pytlik worked with Berg to come up with a narrative that would allow both striking visuals and a growing sense of intrigue. A botched armored van robbery was the sequence they settled on, following a crew of armed robbers trying to make their escape through a hospital ward. Filmed with a 21:9 aspect ratio the piece itself runs at 2 minutes 19 seconds adding a a few other ‘219’s placed strategically around the film using subliminal messaging whilst presenting to us a little known method of story telling where from a first person perspective we move throughout the frozen moment of action slowly piecing together the linear narrative in one single shot. The finer details of the captivating visuals on display here are clearly better experienced in a greater aspect ratio demonstrating that as filming technology becomes more advanced so must the vessel from which we view it.

Heres the clever marketing bit. Because the user is already drawn in by the short film they want to know how this relatively new filming concept is achieved. This is where the website offered 3 other short mini clips where all the effects added in post are removed and any of the rigging used during production reappears with accompanying explanations from various people involved linking in the 21:9 element. The user has now spent at least 10 minutes voluntarily on the website and has also learnt about the product out of their own inquisitiveness.

The nature of the campaign allowed the piece to go viral, viewing figures being over half a million in just over two weeks with celebrity endorsement from such current pop culture figures as Ashton Kutcher and Kanye West directing people to the website via Twitter.
50 Cent used the video at the start of his music video “Ok you’re alright” (Actually having it shown on the Phillips LCDtv itself).

This multi faceted Carousel campaign excelled through a captivating video on an interactive and informative webpage resulting in Phillips 21:9 LCDtv going viral.

Rae Ann Fera of Boards (an international trade publication for the advertising community) stated:
“The Grand Prix winner was thrilling for [several] reasons. First, that an online-only film with well-integrated interactivity won the top Film award further signals the future direction of the industry.”

Future advertisers would be wise to take note.


Ad/Campaign: Nike Air Jordan XII ‘Frozen moment’

Agency: Wieden and Kennedy

Creatives: Kirk Gibbons and Jonathan Glazer (Director)

Creatives at Wieden and Kennedy must be the most fortunate in the business. Why? Because they just so happen to count the world’s most recognized sports brand NIKE amongst their prestigious roster of clients. This allows the kind of creative freedom that many other copy writers and art directors can only dream of. Nike is a brand that has the financial clout and iconic brand base that affords the creative teams at W&K the luxurious limits set only by the sky. Along with the Nike account comes so many elements that offer the creatives a chance to both flex their creative muscles and sell the product/brand effectively. When dealing with a sporting brand as renowned as Nike you automatically take on its ‘baggage’ of being a respected, quality and iconic presence across a vast number of sports. Not a bad base from which to build your Ad. You also have another valuable commodity at your disposal. Sporting personalities under the Nike Banner that span across pretty much every sport thats worth mentioning. These sports stars are the closest thing to super humans we have here in the real world. Whatever they’re tagged as, heroes, icons, role models, they are inspirational to children and adults alike.  This opens the arena of creativity up to the fantastical and Nike has the budget to realize a creative’s vision whether he wants his sporting ‘super hero’ to fly through the air or slow down time.

So you have you action aspect of the Ad but what about its beating heart? The love, the pain, the joy, the anger, the intimate emotion thats going to drive your Ad right into the consumer’s consciousness? This is a sports brand we’re talking about and with sports come a hole host of emotions. Whether its loyalty to a team or the heart ache of a loss, sport is a fantastic theatre that wears its heart on its sleeve. Just another example of Nike’s emotional ‘baggage’ that comes pre installed. The nostalgic twang that everyone has when remembering, participating or spectating a sport.

So thats your Ad’s action and emotional bond already accounted for, now it needs a narrative idea to work off of.

Nike’s plethora of great Ads are too varied to name them all but this is my favourrite. 1996’s ‘Frozen moment’ commercial for the Air Jordan XII sneaker combines all the a fore mentioned elements to create a stunningly beautiful Ad. Its just 30 seconds long, has no voice over and no slogans. No explanation. Just a flash of the JUMPMAN logo for a split second at the Ad’s close. Thats all it needs. The emotional punch that is packed into that 30 seconds tells a story that words can’t. But here goes…

First off it features arguably the greatest, most recognized, incomparable, imitated but never bettered athlete and icon of a generation Michael Jordan. Because of his place in the hearts of millions, the product is as good as sold already.

People can identify with the concept that when the ball is in Mike’s hands the world stops and takes notice. The Ad is about poetry in motion, a beauty the whole world can aspire to. People stop in their tracks, the innocent eyes of children stare motionless, awestruck at what they are witnessing. The innocence of youth regarding a beautiful event for the first time is key here and is massively aided by a lone child’s voice, a beautiful piece of music appropriately called ‘Hope’ taken from American composer Jonathan Elias’ ‘Prayer cycle’.

This voice accompanied by the visual of Mike gliding dream like through opposing players in slow motion guides us back to a time when we all thought we too could ‘be like Mike’ (as a previous campaign encouraged). A time when anything was possible and our wildest dreams were achievable. As we get a close up of the product itself, subconsciously we are lead to believe that by purchasing these sneakers we can all have the chance of being that much closer to our perception of perfection and of beauty.

Kirk Gibbons, the creative behind this masterpiece opted for beauty over flash and aggression, a combination all too tempting when dealing with a sports brand. Jonathan Glazor, director of such masterclasses in tension as ‘Sexy Beast’ and a little know Guinness Ad involving surfers (more on that later) deals with the subject matter delicately but potently (to quote Don Draper’s description of nostalgia) as well he should. A light touch is prescribed when dealing with people’s memories and with their dreams…


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Ad/Campaign: Gucci

Agency: In house

Creatives: Tom Ford and Mario Testino

Tom Ford doesn’t do subtle. As well as being the first name in high end luxury (literally with his own self titled TOM FORD brand) Ford understands how to make the most shocking, controversial and what some have called vulgar Ad campaigns in an industry that specializes in all of the above. He pushes the boundaries of sexuality and taste to create the kind of buzz that many brands wouldn’t have the confidence to associate themselves with. As the the man who turned the fortunes of the faltering Gucci house around through his innovation and charisma in the early 90’s, Ford is now known the world over as a luxury lifestyle pioneer.

That is why when Tom (by this time the CD of Gucci) decided to shave a ‘G’ in the pubic hair of model Louise Pederson and have it photographed by world famous fashion photographer Mario Testino in early 2003, no one argued with him and his vision of what the direction and Perception of the brand should be.

The aftermath was as expected. The Advertising Standards Authority was bombarded with complaints, John Beyer director of mediawatchuk wanted the Ad band on the grounds that it was ‘harmful to society’.

You can’t buy this kind of publicity.

All this outcry did in the wake of the campaign was further the intrigue of Tom Ford’s edgy, stylish and sexually charged Gucci. Woman wanted to be associated with Ford’s Gucci woman. She was an edgy, devil may care, sexually active rockstar who dressed in the most stylish of clothes. It was this bold and provocative market that Gucci were looking for and by hitting the ‘G’ spot through Testino’s racy imagery, Ford delivered exactly that.

He’s used the same same shock tactics ever since only this time homing his focus in on a male market. This is illustrated in his TOM FORD men’s fragrance campaigns.

Take a look at the print Ads below.

Before I even know what the fragrance smells like I am more intrigued (and there fore more inclined to try and ultimately buy) by the provocative Ad showing the fragrance bottle held between a woman’s naked thighs/breasts than I am by most other fragrance Ads with (insert flavour of the month actor/musician/model here) holding the bottle and looking into the middle distance.

Ford creates a mystique, an intrigue that makes the consumer want to know more. These images are highly sexual and so the consumer wants to be recognized thusly through association with the product. “This is how I want people to regard my character”: High end, expensive, classy, sophisticated and sexy.

This simple arrangement of flesh and product personality resulting in the buzz of controversy and voila… Sex sells again.

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Ad/Campaign: VW Beetle

Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach New York (DDB)

Creatives: Julian Koenig and Helmut Krone

Ok so to start off I’m going for this revolutionary print campaign for the VW Beetle.

Ad Age voted this campaign from the 1950’s as the best advertising campaign of the 20th century. Now with all the weird and wonderful things that we’ve seen in advertising since then, on first glance it may be difficult to see why. The fact is that it is ground breaking. To see the genius behind this campaign there are a few social and cultural factors that you have to take in to consideration.

First of all at the time of this Ad VW were faced with selling a car that was conceived, designed and built in Nazi Germany. Trying to market this odd looking small car to a mass consumer American market who were mainly interested in big powerful American made ‘muscle cars’ just 15 years after the second world war was going to be no easy feat.

With these hurdles in front of them, Julian Koenig and Helmut Krone’s ‘Think small’ campaign still managed to boost sales of the Volkswagen Beetle. By how much? 60 years later VW is still a prominent client of DDB…

Before ‘Think small’, Ads were about showing the obvious aesthetic qualities of the product. A big shiny picture of a car in all its glory with paragraphs of text explaining in detail why it is so great. Hardly creative. And not telling the consumer why this car in particular is best suited to them and their family (or at the time more notably ‘Him’ and ‘His’ family. Social attitudes being what they were in the 50’s, a car ad would have been geared towards a man.)

If anything the VW Ads showed you the initial faults with product through humor but then went on to explain why these were not faults after all but in actual fact they were benefits. How did they do this?
They played upon their target market’s conscience that was a product of social, economical and cultural change at that time in America.

With the baby boom still booming in America a relatively short time after the war the campaign sought out to appeal to the needs of young couples starting new families. These needs were mainly safety and cost. The Ads capitalized on these factors and VW reaped the rewards.

The print Ad with simply ‘Lemon’ as the tagline illustrated the safety and quality aspects of the car. Lemon is the term used on the production line when the product has a fault deeming it unfit for public consumption. The Ad went on to say how Wolfsburg inspectors would reject a VW model on the line for something as simple as a blemish on the dash board meaning a buyer would receive a car that was nothing less that 100% safe and efficient. Team this with the VW Beetle’s cost effectiveness and DDB have just presented to their client an Ad campaign that is as simple and as effective as the Car they set out to showcase.

This campaign was ground breaking in that they found a concept that worked for the product and the consumer and championed a less is more approach at a time when no one else was doing so. Advertisers have followed suit ever since, completely changing the way the industry thinks about selling a product.

Ironically, with this concept they thought outside the box… They dared to think big!