Of course, six reviews can't do justice to BT's massive contribution. What hits you when you look at the BT library of 1,286 TV ads from the past 30 years is the sheer volume of quality - so I have sneaked a couple of others in anyway ...
Buzby (1). Perfect voice-casting by KMP - Bernard Cribbens and Irene Handl - oozes warmth using gentle, rough-cut cartoon caricature observing family life, softly selling the intangible product benefit. A welcome guest into the viewer's home, enabling the campaign to become a "national treasure".
Beattie (2). Richard Phillips at JWT brilliance. It failed in research, of course, but Adrian Hosford and Tim Evans at BT bravely ignored that and went with instinct, and so one of the most successful TV campaigns ever was born - the return on investment was huge. Campaigns like this prompt the "ads are better than the programmes mate" taxi driver refrain.
Ologies all round.
BT did the "one to remember" public-service ads when everyone's phone number needed an extra 1 (4). The fear was that the network would crash if the misdial rate was too high. We would know immediately if the campaign had worked or not ... though probably not by phone! In the event, mis-dialling was a tenth of that feared. Network safe - phew. I think I also recall that Colin Wise at BT had to get permission from the Queen to show Bobby Moore receiving the World Cup from her in one of the spots - the joys of account management.
The 1993 Stephen Hawking "Just keep talking" film from Saatchis was powerful.
Despite only having a couple of hundred perfectly placed ratings, it still gets remarkable recall, I think because it resonated so well with the then world context of a hopeful new dawn - post-Gulf war, Arafat and Rabin meeting Clinton on the White House lawn ... if only they had just kept talking ...
Hoskins (3). AMV genius. Getting the hard man to play gentle guide was inspired. He's on our side - our mate, helping us to enhance our lives, not a big corporation seeking our dosh. The campaign helped break down barriers to communication - and won an IPA Effectiveness Award with £300 million return on investment. But it wasn't all about ROI. There was a social responsibility spot called "frustrating", which encouraged runaways to contact relatives; 50 seconds with the first 30 showing just Bob staring nervously in silence. Then the punch. Emotional, gut-wrenching stuff.
It got fewer than 100 ratings and still gets recall today. Only TV can do that.
What on earth do you do post-Hoskins? Go ET (5). A really big idea ... not many companies could get Spielberg. Enchanting quality, touching all ages.
This campaign had legs, luv ... thin spindly ones.
Finally, stadium (6). Wow. Even hardened old buyers like me get teary-eyed at the pregnant women emotional tug and the reunion cameo. The supreme effort and heartache from client and agency that went into creating that masterpiece - worth it in the end, wasn't it? - though waiting for it to be transmitted on ITV at the launch party was nerve-wracking.
TV has enabled BT to entertain, inspire, even cajole the nation ... and make a big return doing it.
1. BT Title: Buzby phones home Agency: Dorlands/KMP Year: 1977 2. BT Title: Ology Agency: J. Walter Thompson Year: 1987 3. BT Title: I'll get your mother Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Year: 1995 4. BT Title: It's one to remember Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Year: 1995 5. BT Title: Party Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Year: 2000 6. BT Title: Stadium Agency: St Luke's Year: 2001