THE BOOK OF LISTS: The 10 Best cinema commercials of all time

campaignlive.co.uk, Tuesday, 16 December 2003 12:00AM

1. Benson & Hedges "iguana" (1978)

A surreal masterpiece credited with redefining brand advertising. Art directed by the eminent Alan Waldie and directed by the Academy Award-winner Hugh Hudson, bizarre, stunningly shot images of a swimming pool, a lizard and an oversized B&H packet belittled many of the flicks it preceded. At the time, "iguana" was the most expensive commercial ever made.

Agency: Collett Dickenson Pearce

Copywriter: Mike Cozens

Art director: Alan Waldie

Director: Hugh Hudson

Production company: The Alan Parker Film Company

2. Silk Cut "garrison" (1980)

A cinema ad epic crafted in the CDP glory days, the hilarious spoof of the 1964 film Zulu starring Michael Caine was another standard-setting cinema spot from a cigarette brand. Directed by the legendary British filmmaker Alan Parker, the dramatic opening battle scenes combined well with quirky stiff upper-lip British humour.

Agency: Collett Dickenson Pearce

Copywriter: Paul Weiland

Art director: David Horry

Director: Alan Parker

Production company: unknown

3. Transport for London "don't look. See" (2002)

A "cinema attendant" runs into the auditorium to tell a "punter" his son has died in a motorcycle accident. COI Communications' ad for motorcycle road safety then follows on-screen. The brilliantly timed act-ad sequence shocked audiences everywhere and prompted many complaints from perturbed cinema-goers. Still, the cinema environment was perfect to catch people off guard and ram the message home. Not easily forgotten.

Agency: M&C Saatchi

Copywriter: Kit Dayaram

Art director: Colleen Phillips

Director: Sid McCartney

Production company: 2am Films

4. Carling Black Label "dambusters" (1991)

Like Silk Cut's "garrison", a spot much-loved for its quintessential Britishness and, albeit highly un-PC, humour. The affectionate homage to the 1954 classic flick The Dam Busters was unusually well crafted for a belly laugh ad. Carling's "bombs", eventually parried by some nifty goalkeeping by a German sentry, were fired from tennis ball machines, heavy with back-spin, on to a salt surface to give the impression of bombs bouncing on water. A vintage cinema ad best shared in a crowd.

Agency: WCRS

Copywriter: John Greenhalgh

Art director: Kes Gray

Director: Roger Woodburn

Production company: Park Village

5. Mercedes "Lucky Star" (2002)

Cleverly tucked into the movie trailer sequence rather than the ad slots, audiences had their guards down as they watched Benicio Del Toro cruise around in an SL500. Slickly directed by Michael Mann of Heat and Manhunter fame, the "trailer", which contained no branding other than a web address tucked at the bottom on the endframe, helped reconfirm Mercedes' status as a luxury carmaker.

Agency: Campbell Doyle Dye

Copywriter: Walter Campbell

Art director: Walter Campbell

Director: Michael Mann

Production company: Anonymous

6. Miller "fox hat" (1998)

An American strolling through dramatic Highland landscape, can of Miller in hand and sporting some Davey Crocket-style headwear, walks past the camera then doubles back. He says, cheekily: "When I told the folks back home that I was coming to Auchtermuchty they said 'wear the fox hat'." The combination of spectacular visuals and a smart-arsed quip was perfect for the cinema.

Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

Copywriter: Graham Storey

Art director: Phil Cockrell

Director: Peter Richardson

Production company: Jack Strong

7. Greenpeace "alien invasion" (2003)

Greenpeace's minute mini-movie starring the Oscar winner Jim Broadbent and the comic Eddie Izzard was a bid by the organisation to get "armchair activists" off their backsides. The three-and-a-half minute film features aliens considering whether earth was worth taking over. Unusually open and human communications for such a serious brand, it used a lighter, humorous touch to put its argument across rather than the guilt trip we have come to expect from pressure groups. All parties donated their services for free.

Agency: HHCL/Red Cell

Copywriter: Steve Henry

Art director: Jason MacBeth

Director: Hank Perlman

Production company: Hungry Man

8. Agent Provocateur "Kylie" (2002)

The infamously risque 18-certificate commercial featuring Britain's favourite bottom had blokes fidgeting in their seats all over the country. Provocatively shot and directed but careful not to give too much away, audiences were left aching for more. The too-raunchy-for-TV ad was one of the sexiest ever made and the most convincing argument yet for paying £80 for a pair of knickers.

Agency: Cdp-travissully

Copywriter: Mick Mahoney

Art director: Andy Amadeo

Director: Steve Reeves

Production company: Another Film Company

9. Royal Marines "cliffhanger" (1997)

A prime example of cinema used to generate a response rather than as a branding tool. "Cliffhanger" brought the brutal demands of a Marine to life in a spectacularly shot sequence that took ten days and nights to shoot, using helicopters, boats, assault courses and recruits from 707 Troop. Devised to attract new recruits, the spot draws the audience in with edgy, ultra-real camerawork. The Marines spend more than 90 per cent of their advertising budget on cinema.

Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

Copywriter: Leighton Ballett

Art director: Lee Goulding

Director: Simon Cellan-Jones

Production company: And Howe Films

10. Mini "ad hop" (2003)

Cheeky off-the-wall "stunt" ad made great use of the medium and drove home the "Mini adventure" positioning - the car jumped over an ad. One spot shows the Mini taking a run at a ramp and jumping off the screen to the right. An ad for another product then follows before the Mini jumps back on screen to land in the next spot.

Agency: WCRS

Copywriter: Andy Brittain

Art director: Yu Kung

Director: Traktor

Production company: Partizan

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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