Best ads in 50 years: How Honda created art, not ads

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: How Honda created art, not ads

'Cog' and 'Grrr'

Wieden & Kennedy London / 2003 and 2004

Frankly, it was a pleasure to sit through these two Honda ads after all these years.

Two things popped into my head. First, around the time these spots came out, just before I started my agency, I went to a talk at the ICA. The Honda client and the Wieden & Kennedy creative director revealed the secret of the work they were doing together. I’ll always remember what the Honda client said. Something like: "I write the brief, and then as long as they answer it, I trust them as the creative experts to give me the right idea."

I remember thinking what an amazing client he was. And what an impressive agency to build that level of trust with their client.

The second thing, and it’s partly a consequence of the first, is these feel like pieces of art more than ads. The craft, the care, the artistry is like something you expect to see in Tate Modern or your favourite box set.

They’re not directly selling me anything. Yet they leave me with a powerful impression of Honda’s products and philosophy.

In this age of mass ad loathing, maybe we can all learn from this.

Andy Fowler is founder of Brothers and Sisters