3 great ads I had nothing to do with #34: Alistair Macrow on PG Tips, Ronseal and John Lewis

Alistair Macrow, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, McDonalds, reveals three great ads he admires but had nothing to do with

Macrow joined McDonald’s in 2007 and became senior vice president, chief marketing officer at McDonald’s in January 2014. He is responsible for McDonald’s UK, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, and is also in charge of the UK’s Business Strategy & Insight function.

Macrow has a background in retail, working for Marks & Spencer and Debenhams before becoming marketing director at Blockbusters where he set up Blockbuster Online.

He has led his team and agency partners in the development of some of the highest performing campaigns in McDonald’s UK history, including its award-winning consumer trust and ‘Favourites’ advertising campaigns.

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Alistair's choices

PG Tips "The Return"

PG Tips had to stop its famous chimpanzee ad campaign in 2002 following animal rights protests. The Guinness Book of World Records ranks it as the longest running TV ad campaign ever, and the chimpanzees are now living out their retirement at Twycross zoo in Leicestershire.

Monkey and Al replaced these ads, and Monkey quickly became a hugely popular character in the public eye. This 2007 ad picks up the story of Al  (Johnny Vegas) and Monkey after six years of absence.

The ad plays out to T'Pau's number one hit "China in your Hand" as Al tells Monkey he has rented out a room to singer Carol Decker.

Ronseal "Fence"

For an entire ad break during a 2016 episode of Gogglebox, Channel 4 aired this ad and showcased it’s ‘born risky’ ethos; viewers spent 3 minutes literally watching paint dry. Creative director Rich Pearson from agency BJL says: "It’s got nothing you would associate with a normal TV advert and that in itself is intriguing."

David Schofield directed the spot through Mob Film. Ronseal’s marketing director, James Smith, said: "We continue to be straight and open about the fact that for many people DIY isn't always the most exciting task. We don’t glamorise DIY."

John Lewis "Bear and the Hare" 

Adam & Eve brought us The Bear & the Hare for John Lewis’ Christmas campaign in 2013. The ad was set to a cover of "Somewhere Only We Know" by Lily Allen. A portion of the song's sales earnings were donated to proceeds Save the Children's Philippine Typhoon Appeal campaign.

This was the first John Lewis ad to use animation. Premise Entertainment combined the two most traditional processes – stop-motion and traditional hand-drawn 2D animation to create a fresh look and feel to the animation.

The £7 million Campaign encompassed an eBook and hardback book, Christmas card maker, social media, in-store and windows, merchandise, digital outdoor projection and soundtrack single.

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.

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