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3 great ads I had nothing to do with #29: Debs Gerrard on John West, Skittles and Guinness

Debs Gerrard, a creative director at Albion, reveals three great ads she admires but had nothing to do with.

Debs started her career temping as an account executive at Saatchi & Saatchi Auckland, when she was still at university in 2006.

After moving to London, she freelanced before starting at Albion in 2010, where she is currently a creative director. She has recently led the development of the agency’s brand reinvention work for Thomas Cook .

She also created a social campaign for Jose Cuervo that helped the tequila brand gain a million Twitter fans, spearheaded the V energy-drink work targeting internet trolls and won a bronze Cannes Lion with a radio spot for the blood-cancer charity Anthony Nolan.

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Debs' choices

John West "Bear"

Filmed in the Scottish Highlands, the ad was developed at Leo Burnett London, by creative directors Mark Tutssel and Nick Bell, art director and copywriter Paul Silburn, and agency producer Charlie Gatsky. The ad quickly became the most downloaded TV advert online, making it one of the world's first internet virals. By 2006 it had been viewed over 300 million times and was the sixth most viewed video online. The bear’s nifty kung fu moves were executed by a stuntman in a 7-foot tall bear suit, complete with animatronic head.

The ad picked up the best commercial of the year at the British Television Advertising Awards, won the Advertising Creative Circle Awards, a Gold Lion at Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, and Grand Prize for Television/Cinema at the London International Awards. Campaign voted it the funniest ad of all time in 2008.

Skittles "Touch"

This TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York ad from 2007 was created by Eric Kallman and Craig Allen. It ranked as Creativity Online's most watched spot of 2007.

The ad uses a dark humour, and in an interview with Ad Age, art director Craig Allen said he "thought it would be funny to do a slightly sad spot for a candy brand...the more creative a brand is, the more people respond to it. If a brand isn't willing to take risks, it's going to have a hard time breaking through."

Guinness "NoitulovE"

'NoitulovE' ("Evolution" backwards) is a 2005 Guinness ad. It was handled by the advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, with a budget of £1.3M. Directed by Daniel Kleinman, it received over 30 awards, including Film Grand Prix at Cannes 2006 and D&AD Wood pencil 2006, and was the most-awarded commercial worldwide in 2006.

Guinness achieved its highest-ever volume and value shares and became the market leader within the region. Bartlett describes it as "very much a product of the post production process."

About this series

In this series of short films, leading Thinkbox Creative Academy members have the tricky task of selecting just three TV ads that have inspired them: brilliant commercials, old and new, that they admire but had nothing to do with.

The idea is not only to explore some of our greatest ads in the company of people who know a thing or two about making them, but also because of the proven link between creativity and effectiveness encourage the advertising industry to even greater heights.


About The Thinkboxes

The Thinkboxes are the first awards to celebrate the UK's world-beating TV ad creativity, in all its forms, at regular way-points throughout the year.

Created in association with Haymarket Brand Media (Campaign, Marketing and Brand Republic), these bi-monthly awards are judged by the Thinkbox Creative Academy; made up of over 200 advertising luminaries.

We hope you enjoy the films.

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