Ridley Scott’s epic Superbowl spot “1984”, for Apple
Ridley Scott’s epic Superbowl spot “1984”, for Apple
A view from Gerry Human

Ogilvy & Mather London's Gerry Human on how movie night made him a better storyteller

Throughout September, Marketing will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of TV advertising in the UK with a series of articles penned by influential industry leaders. The aim is to explore where TV advertising is now and, more importantly, its future in a rapidly evolving media landscape. We continue with Gerry Human, chief creative officer at Ogilvy & Mather London.

It’s funny, but TV didn’t really shape me much as a kid. That’s because it didn’t exist in South Africa until the late ‘70s. Hard to believe, I know, but the apartheid government thought it was the devil’s work and that it would corrupt society. How ironic.

There was an upside though. Instead of spending time watching instantly gratifying Soap Operas and dodgy sitcoms, I got deeply immersed in proper movies.

Because, although TV didn’t exist, there was a thriving cinema industry – Saturday night was movie night. De rigueur.

My take on storytelling was shaped by cinematic genius, hilarious comedy writing and brilliant performances: George Lucas’ "Star Wars", Jim Sharman’s "Rocky Horror Show", Francis Ford Coppola’s "Apocalypse Now", Peter Sellers in "The Pink Panther", and Clint Eastwood’s "Dirty Harry", amongst others.

Movie houses were also where I fell in love with advertising.

The Cannes ad festival started out as a cinema-only event, which included an annual, worldwide, travelling roadshow of the winners. We actually paid money to watch ads.

It’s a bit geeky, but even for teenage me, the Cannes reel was one of the highlights of the year. Maybe because most Cannes winners were funny. And they often came from funny Countries, like Sweden. Or maybe those are just the ones I remember. Like Joan Collins and Leonard Rossiter in those Cinzano ads, Joe Sedelmaier’s brilliant Fedex spots and Wendy’s "Russian fashion show", and of course there was Ridley Scott’s epic Superbowl spot "1984", for Apple.

Filmmaking is more alive than ever - there are over a billion Facebook video views every day. Ordinary people now make amazing films, but there are still exceptionally talented filmmakers who tell mesmerisingly good stories. People like Tom Kuntz, Ringan Ledwidge, Dougal Wilson, and Ivan Zacharias, to name a few.

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, let alone in the future. But I guess people will still enjoy a good laugh or a good cry for some time to come.

To mark 60 years of TV advertising we're asking readers to vote for their favourite TV ad of all time. Click here to vote in our poll