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3 great ads I had nothing to do with #33: Chaka Sobhani on Levi's, Volkswagen and Three

Chaka Sobhani, chief creative officer at Leo Burnett, reveals three great ads she admires but had nothing to do with.

Chaka joined Leo Burnett from Mother where she creative directed a number of accounts including Boots and No.7. She has spent 20 years in both the advertising and broadcast industries. She set up ITV creative and became their first Executive Creative Director.

She is also a multi award winning director, having created campaigns for Jonathan Ross, Ant and Dec, The Brits, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Girls Aloud.

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Chaka's choices

Levi's "launderette"

This 1985 commercial, promoting the re-launch of Levi’s classic 501s shrink-to-fit jeans, was a breakthrough revival for the brand that, at the time, was thought to be old-fashioned.

John Hegarty and Barbara Nokes of BBH, recreated a 50s Americana launderette which presented Levi’s 501s as a retro 50s alternative to 80s punk. Teen idol Nick Kamen strips down to his boxers in the ad, helping to increase sales of Levi’s by 800% within a year.

The use of the iconic hit I Heard It Through The Grapevine was an early example of effective integrated marketing, sparking the re-release of the original, which entered the charts again, and the 501 logo to appear on the record sleeve.

Volkswagen "Singing in the Rain"

In this 2006 spot by DDB London, Gene Kelly’s famous Singin In The Rain dance moves are given a surprising remix thanks to some slick special effects. Kelly break dances his way through the street, a fitting nod to the new GTi which is described as "the original, updated".

The producers built an exact replica set of the 1952 filmset, and recruited dancer David Elsewhere to perform the dance, superimposing Kelly’s face over the top.

The ad won multiple international awards including the Bronze Lion at the Cannes Film Festival and an individual award for Supple Nam – "Most Innovative Choreography in TV/Adverts".

Three "The Pony" 

This 2013 Wieden + Kennedy ad features a Shetland pony moonwalking to Fleetwood Mac.

Directed by Dougal Wilson  of Blink Productions, the ad plays on our love of sharing silly things online. It takes the stance that rather than just being silly, this stuff connects us to one another through the simple act of sharing it.

VFX Creative Director Jake Mengers said, "The shoot on the Shetland islands was incredibly beautiful but quite challenging. Ever changing lighting conditions meant that we were constantly on our toes. Dougal mimicking a dancing pony as an animation guide ensured there were plenty of laughs, despite the best efforts of the freezing wind to dampen our spirits."

About this series

In this series of short films, leading Thinkbox 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 Campaign, these bi-monthly awards are judged by the Thinkbox Academy; made up of over 200 advertising luminaries. 

We hope you enjoy the films.

Want to watch more great work? Head to the 3 Great Ads hub

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