The CCO at Wunderman Thompson UK delves into five of his all-time favourite campaigns that give him that perfect sense of nostalgia
We were talking in the agency a couple of weeks ago and started to reference ads from the past that just remind you of what a great place to work advertising is, how much fun you can have and how much skill and craft goes into making an ad - from the script, casting, performance, direction, music and edit - the process that turns 'good' into 'great'...
Hamlet Cigars - 'Photo Booth'
Agency: Collett Dickenson Pearce
Hamlet is a really good example of performance and direction. Can you imagine the script? Can you imagine presenting it? So simple. So perfect. Comedy is a lost art. You can’t make an a steal-o-matic of an idea like this, you have to trust the director and actor to realise the idea. It’s incredible how watchable a straight-to-camera piece can be if the idea is big enough.
Ford Puma - 'Steve McQueen'
Production: Streetlight Films
Director: Paul Street
Remember this? Steve McQueen driving a Ford Puma in a frame-by-frame remake of the Ford Mustang car chase in the film 'Bullitt'. I’m sold right there. Made in the '80s, this would be tricky to pull off today but I love the ambition in this idea. Advertising should be entertaining as well as informing. The garage scene is my favourite, with the reference to the Great Escape motorcycle and parking next to the original Bullitt Mustang GT, and then McQueen’s look back to the Ford Puma. Utterly compelling TV and a brilliant ad.
Barclays - 'Big'
Agency: Leagas Delaney
Director: Tony Scott
This came up at the same time, while we were looking at references for big acting performances in an ad - this has to be one the best ever. It’s an incredible piece of writing but without Anthony Hopkins this is significantly less watchable. I’ve re-watched this a few times recently and the layers continue to reveal themselves. For me, the biggest is the skill and craft in the script itself - It really stays on point, it’s laser focused, never loses sight of the idea and there’s no product crowbarred in at the end. It’s a lesson in film direction in 60 seconds too.
The Guardian - 'Points of View'
Director: Paul Weiland
In any trip down memory lane, this ad always comes up, and it’s still breathtakingly clever and powerful. Dated VO notwithstanding it shows the power of film. There is a grit and reality to this film which transcends time, as does the idea which is really cinematic. Whilst this is one of the best ads of that period, it’s worth reflecting on just how many ads of this period felt like mini-movies in themselves. The visual story alone tells you what Guardian stands for.
Nike - 'Park Life'
Agency: Simons Palmer
Director: Jonathan Glazer
If there is ever an ad to put a smile on your face it’s this great film for Nike which actually gets better with age. Packed with a Premier League ensemble cast, it helps that the track has gone on to be contemporary classic. Or perhaps this advert was partly responsible for defining Blur in popular culture. Don’t forget it was Levi’s that gave The Clash their first (and only) number one! But back to the Nike ad, the film truly captures the spirit of the game and the attitude of the brand. When you watch it it feels so natural and easy, but imagine how painstaking must it have been to plan out that shot list.