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Mark Denton of Coy! picks his Desert Island Ads

Mark 1-1 Mark is just getting the hang of advertising after 37 years playing around at it.

He’s been a partner of a famous ad agency and the owner of a design company. He’s launched a magazine, re-launched Britain’s oldest advertising organisation and put on the UK’s first ever World Championship Mexican Wrestling event.

Other jobs include Knitting Digest’s premier paste-up artist, visualiser, art director, creative director and everything in between. He’s currently directing, designing and bossing people about at COY! Communications.

Denton has produced winning work for Nike, Wrangler, Heineken, Levis, Greenpeace and many, many, many more.

He really has won an obscenely large amount of awards. Especially if you count bronzes and certificates (and he does count them – regularly).

Current projects include an exhibition and documentary on youth culture, and a range of leisure wear.

But is he still available to shoot commercials? I hear you ask… you bet!

My ten favourite ads?

It would be easier to list my 10,000 favourite.

Still, I’ve had a bash at it and found myself with ten telly adverts.

I do love print even though my day job is directing commercials now, but no posters made it
and similarly no press ads.

And of course if you ask me the same question next week it’ll probably be a different top ten,
so for what it’s worth here goes.



As a small kid growing up in the 60s I loved watching the telly and I liked the adverts every bit
as much as the programmes in between.

But I thought they were solely there for my entertainment until I saw this ad. It’s the first time I
really grasped how advertising works.

I was so impressed with the product demo that a Johnny Seven was instantly top of my Xmas

Unfortunately my mum wouldn’t let me have one because she said there were too many bits
and I’d lose them.

I still haven’t forgiven her.



I don’t know if this is the first ever Hamlet ad, it’s certainly the first one I remember and it’s
still the one I like best. Even though I’m a non-smoker I often fancy lighting up a Hamlet
when I’m in one of these interminable meetings when there’s a dozen or more people having
a mass debate over a script.



The Milk Tray Man – one of the greatest advertising properties ever. Invented by my old boss
Norman Icke one million years ago.



One of the reasons I wanted to go into advertising in the first place was to make my Mum
laugh. She used to kill herself laughing every time she saw this ad, and who can blame her –
it’s still funny now. It’s a shame that sometime in the 90s humour made way for style. I’m still
clinging on waiting for the pendulum to swing back before I retire.



This is one of the many ads that Alan Parker shot for CDP in their heyday. I could have picked almost any one from his showreel.



Why aren’t there any more creative stars nowadays? Where’s the new John Webster? The
old John Webster made ads like Kia Ora – Fedora, yet another brilliant ad from the past that
you could run today.



My hero in the 80s was Dave Trott. To a young aspiring creative his agency GGT looked like
the most exciting shop in town. It was like advertising’s equivalent of punk and like the best
stuff it divided opinion but like it or loathe it you couldn’t ignore it.



For those old enough to remember I was a creative partner in a snappily named ad agency
back in the 90s. It would be fair to say that at Simons Palmer DENTON Clemmow and
Johnson we fancied ourselves quite a bit.

Unbeknown to them we considered that HHCL were our closest creative rivals.

But we felt we had them beat until they aired their Maxell campaign. Sadly we never got close
to matching it.



Like Alan Parker’s reel I could have chosen almost any ad from Tony Kay’s. I worked with
him on a few ads and got excited, angry, and scared in equal measure… very happy days



I’m finishing off with another favourite from John Webster. I remember the amazing reception that the John Smiths campaign got when I saw it for the first time at the BTA awards… I bet it sold a few pints too. Cheers.


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One comment

  1. The “Genius” accolade was banded around too freely in our world, but Webster, Parker, Kay and Trott deserved it as these examples demonstrate (oh OK maybe some of the HHCL bunch too)

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