Always a woman - John Lewis
Always a woman - John Lewis
A view from Staff

Creating the most iconic TV ads: CMOs on why their brands' ads have enduring appeal

As the TV ad break turns 60 today, Marketing has canvassed the views of CMOs at brands which produced some of the most memorable TV ads to find out why their efforts stand out from the pack.

Following our polls across the marketing industry and consumers, we asked the marketers to reflect on why their ads resonated and the effect this has gone on to have on their brands.

Matthew Williams

Mondelez International, marketing activation director


"We’re delighted that The Cadbury Gorilla ad has been picked by consumers as the winner – it was completely unlike any other ad that Cadbury, or indeed any other chocolate company, had produced before. Humour has always played a part in confectionery advertising but we wanted viewers to not only laugh but also understand the sheer joy of biting into a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk. The moment the gorilla burst into the famous Phil Collins’ drum solo is a bizarre but memorable representation of the euphoric moment when we first taste the delicious chocolate."


Syl Saller, 

Diageo, CMO


"A guiding principle for us when we create adverts for Guinness is to always do things that only Guinness can do, and to do them differently. For me, the Guinness Surfer advert captures this principle perfectly  – from the stunning visuals, to the powerful music, to the script – totally different to the beer advertising of the 90s.

It encapsulates the perfect pour of Guinness is an imaginative, impactful and memorable way. "One of the things that makes the Guinness Surfer advert so timeless is that it combines fantasy with authenticity.

The cast aren’t actors, they are genuine surfers who we discovered on a Hawaiian beach spending their days waiting for the perfect wave, and footage of real horses. "Guinness as a brand has been at the heart of TV advertising over the last 60 years.

We advertised in the first ever commercial ad break on TV in Great Britain, and we advertised in the last ad break of the 20th Century. Great adverts like Guinness Surfer foster a feeling of responsibility that we are constantly challenging ourselves to live up to, and it’s a positive way to keep us on track."

Craig Inglis

Customer director, John Lewis


"Our Always A Woman campaign proved to be a seminal moment for the John Lewis brand. In many people's eyes, it was the first time that our advertising had connected with them emotionally and done justice to the strength of feeling they had about the role John Lewis played in their lives.

All of the team involved were overwhelmed by the response and it gave us the momentum to go on to create the wealth of great work that followed."

Jemma Jones

Honda Motor Europe, department manager - marketing communications 


"In my mind 'Cog' is a timeless, classic advert - and the one that made me want to work for Honda.  It's a great example of a brand campaign - one of the first in the automotive sector which until 'Cog' was typically focused on product-based advertising."  

Matthew Barwell

Britvic, CMO


"I recall the Blackcurrant Tango ad causing a stir when it was first screened nearly 20 years ago because it was so fresh, bold and exciting. It packs a punch much like the drink, which is why it endures in the minds of the public and the industry.

The ad follows Ray Gardner, a spokesperson for Tango, as he responds to a French student’s letter critiquing Blackcurrant Tango and takes the viewer on a journey from Tango’s head office to a boxing ring on the edge of the Cliffs of Dover where Ray is prepared to take on France and the rest of the world. The final shot on the edge of the cliffs with hundreds of people rallying around Ray is visually stunning and the ad was ground-breaking in that it  looks as if it was filmed in one continuous shot.

I believe one of the reasons the ad resonated with the British public is because it tapped into, and reflected, the general mood of renewed confidence as a result of the emergence of Britpop and the rise of New Labour. Of course, it’s also popular because it’s incredibly funny!"

"R. White’s ‘Secret Lemonade Drinker’ captured the nation’s hearts when it first aired in 1973 and was so loved it ran for more than a decade.

It’s a light-hearted, memorable ad that turns an innocent treat, R White’s lemonade, into a guilty pleasure because it’s so irresistible. The extremely catchy R White’s jingle makes it such an effective and enduring ad."

Mark Vile

Marketing director, Compare the Market


"TV advertising is successful when you have a great story to tell. Aleksandr and the meerkat family have become a household name since their launch, and are now very much part of popular culture.

This is as a result of the continuation of a great narrative that is told through TV and equally brought to life through our other channels. This obsession with narrative aligned with a depth of characterisation is the key to continuing to engage viewers."