ITV 50 Years of Fame: Private view - Ariel

No woman sits in front of the television waiting for laundry ads to appear. We need big ideas that meet her wherever she is, and these Ariel ads are a fascinating reflection on the changes in our society over the past few decades.

In "Billingsgate" from 1979, the drama focuses on two hapless men in fishy overalls facing the toughest judge of cleaning performance, their mum (1). She scrutinises the performance of two laundry powders and Ariel wins.

This was a successful, long-running campaign that took spotlessness seriously.

But, as more women went to work, got divorced and realised there was more to life than laundry, Ariel ads started to evolve.

An ad that embodies this change is "Glastonbury" (2). We open on a mum doing a crossword in the living room. She's interrupted by her son returning from the Glastonbury Festival with a disgustingly stained shirt.

Instead of an instant panicked reaction, we see her relaxed and building a relationship with her son. He is showing off in a wonderful teenage way but mum has the final word, the ultimate put down: she tells him that in her day they didn't wear any clothes.

The revolution here is that mum has a whole life. She has a past, a present and a future. Her life is so much more than doing the laundry.

Of course, the ad still tackles a torture test - in this case, dried-in sick - and we still have the demo, but the point is mum is not in the kitchen near a washing machine, anxiously waiting for her son to come back.

The "that's another load off your mind" campaign shows that Ariel helps make life a little easier by giving you one less thing to worry about.

This campaign acknowledges that the family unit has changed: more people live on their own and more men are doing the laundry (3). This execution features a man coming into the kitchen dirty and the partner/wife, who's with her friend, asks him to put his clothes in the washing machine. "What load do I put it on?" the man says, having stripped down to his boxers.

"Small load," his partner/wife replies, giggling with her friend.

What makes this ad work so well is the true insight about women's complicity and the enjoyment they derive from talking about men and their bits ... while at the same time demonstrating how easy it is to get a load of dirty washing truly clean by using a liquitab. So easy even a man can do it.

With "Henmania", Ariel goes tactical with a championship whites ad to coincide with Wimbledon (4). Sadly, Tim Henman is not to Ariel what Gary Lineker is to Walkers, but he represents a return to the laundry staple of "demanding professional". The tennis theme is echoed in "white knights", which shows two players' whites glowing in the dark (6). This represents a pinnacle in the genre - confident and superior without a cliched reference to the female facilitator.

"Ice fishing", meanwhile, is a clever film that cuts through the clutter and format of laundry ads (5).

Fifty-year marriages are not really in fashion these days, so when a client and agency decide to stick together on a long journey like Ariel and Saatchis have, they become braver, and it shows in the work. I am delighted to have been a small part of that team: my first job at Saatchis was working on Ariel and I wouldn't dream of putting anything else in my washing machine. Congratulations.

1. ARIEL Title: Billingsgate Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Year: 1979 2. ARIEL Title: Glastonbury Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Year: 1997 3. ARIEL Title: Small load Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Year: 2001 4. ARIEL Title: Henmania Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Year: 2002 5. ARIEL Title: Ice fishing Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Year: 2004 6. ARIEL Title: White knights Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Year: 2005

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