THE A LIST: Adland's favourite Advertisement

Two very different ads occupy the leading two places: the powerful 'points of view' for The Guardian and Hamlet's comedic 'photo booth'.

No surprise that Levi's jeans advertising has proved as popular with the communications experts in the A List as it continues to be with the general public. The Levi's commercials helped to thrust advertising in to the national consciousness more successfully than almost anything that preceded it.

Of course, there had been much memorable advertising before Bartle Bogle Hegarty's debut TV spot for the brand, "launderette", ran in 1985. But this was different. A beautifully shot sequence, featuring Nik Kamen stripping to his undies, set the tone for a series of ads both sexy and humourous which appeal to professionals as well as punters.

With "creek" and "drugstore", both firm A List favourites, sustaining the momentum, it could be argued Levi Strauss, maybe more than any other company, shifted the perception of UK advertising from a fringe activity to a mainstream one. Who, back in the mid-80s, would have imagined an eagerly awaited ad meriting a colour spread in a tabloid?

At the top of the A List pops, though, is a film reflecting the communications industry's radicalism and creativity. BMP DDB's 1986 "points of view" ad for The Guardian remains a powerful advocate of the open-mindedness of the paper. A skinhead chases an elderly man, apparently intending to mug him. But as the camera pulls back it becomes obvious the skinhead is trying to protect the man from a pallet of falling bricks. The film is shot without a soundtrack. "Only when you get the whole picture can you really understand what's going on," the copy reads.

Two sharply contrasting ads vie for the runner-up spot. One is the 1987 "photo booth" spot for Hamlet cigars by Collett Dickenson Pearce. A final flowering from CDP's golden age, the commercial featuring Gregor Fisher struggling to keep his Bobby Charlton hairdo and dignity intact while having his picture taken ranks as one of the all-time funniest.

The other is British Airways' epic "face". Directed by the Chariots of Fire director, Hugh Hudson, for Saatchi & Saatchi, the 1989 commercial featured 1,000 students gathered to form a Picasso-like face to emphasise the stature of the UK's flag carrier. A truly worthy follow-up to BA's mould-breaking "Manhattan" spot.

Other special favourites of the A List can all stake their claims as creative milestones. Cadbury Smash "Martians", created by the then Boase Massimi Pollitt in 1974, is perennially popular. So too is the film "snowplough" for Volkswagen. Always an advertising pace-setter in the UK, VW had this seminal work produced for it by Doyle Dane Bernbach in New York way back in 1962 and it has inspired generations of creatives ever since.

Hard on its heels comes CDP's enigmatic 1978 ad for Benson & Hedges, which thumbed its nose at tobacco ad restrictions by featuring a series of unrelated objects from an iguana to a helicopter and a sardine can. A quarter of a century later, the film remains tantalisingly mysterious.

No Beetle-style parsimony for the final entry. CDP's three-minute extravaganza to launch the Fiat Strada in 1979 ranks as one of the costliest ads of all time. Sweeping photography, a rousing score and a driving stunt worthy of The Italian Job. It was also the first UK ad to occupy an entire TV break.


1 Points of view The Guardian BMP 24

2= Photo booth Hamlet Collett Dickenson Pearce 15

2= Face British Airways Saatchi & Saatchi 15

4 Martians Cadbury Smash BMP 12

5 Snowplough Volkswagen DDB 9

6= Creek Levi's Bartle Bogle Hegarty 7

6= Iguana Benson & Hedges Collett Dickenson Pearce 7

8= Launderette Levi's Bartle Bogle Hegarty 6

8= Drugstore Levi's Bartle Bogle Hegarty 6

8= Handbuilt by Fiat Collett Dickenson

robots Fiat Pearce 6

Also-rans: Dog tricks - John Smith's (5), 1984 - Apple (5), Gertcha -

Courage Best (5), Dambusters - Carling Black Label (4), Swimblack -

Guinness (4), Swimmer - Levi's (4), Swimming pool - Benson & Hedges (4),

Kipper - Lego (4), Bear - John West Salmon (4), Manhattan - British

Airways (3), The water in Majorca - Heineken (3).


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