Best ads in 50 years: Courage Best shows the importance of serendipity

As part of Campaign's 50th anniversary, we asked the industry to look back on the best ads of the past 50 years. We are revealing one a day for your viewing pleasure...

Best ads in 50 years: Courage Best shows the importance of serendipity


Boase Massimi Pollitt / 1979

An Englishman walks into a pub. This isn’t the start of a poor joke but a great example of the importance of serendipity.

The Englishman was John Webster. He walked into The Oxford Arms and had a pint and settled in. The pub band started playing. That band happened to be Chas and Dave.

Back at BMP, one of Webster’s creatives was working on a brief for Courage Best. That creative was one of the great populist writers of all time, Dave Trott.

That chain of events led to "Gertcha", one of the most iconic and catchy ads ever – and put Chas and Dave in the charts for eight weeks.

The agency may have disappeared, but the ad survived and was put on air again in 1992.

This shows the importance serendipity has to all creative cultures, and agencies ignore it at their peril. Accountants don’t need it; to us, it should be like oxygen. Without serendipity, this great ad would not have happened.

Adrian Rossi is joint executive creative director at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO


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