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The UK’s first TV ads: Gibbs SR to Heineken’s heights

It’s the 60th anniversary of the first TV ad in the UK (September 22) so expect of barrage of surveys and so on to mark the event.

Here’s the first one broadcast, for Unilever’s Gibbs SR toothpaste, now known as Mentadent. I presume this was produced by Unilever’s then in-house agency Lintas.

SR stands for sodium ricinoleate by the way. Magical ‘scientific’ ingredients were big in those days.

You could advertise cigarettes too. Here’s one for Consulate menthol flavoured gaspers, “the cigarette that’s good for you.”

And from 1969 possibly the first TV appearance by Joanna Lumley, trying (not very hard) to escape the clutches of a would-be lover on a Greek island in the cause of Nimble low calorie bread.

The great age of UK TV ads is said to be the 1970s. Whitbread, then a brewer, was arguably the most famous advertiser along with tobacco firm Gallaher (Benson & Hedges, Hamlet) – both clients of Collett Dickenson Pearce.

But Whitbread boss Tony Simmonds-Gooding hedged his bets rather, using Allen Brady and Marsh for this:

And CDP for this:

Directed by Alan Parker with David Puttnam as the suit on the case – genius.

Bumped into Alan (Sir Alan as he is now) a while back and very charming he was too, despite his formidable reputation. Puttnam, of course, is a lord.

Anyway, we’ll see what the next few days bring.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

One comment

  1. I worked on Gibbs SR at Y&R as a junior Art Director in the 60’s. I told Dennis Auton the CD I was fed up drawing tubes of fucking toothpaste and wanted to be a writer… He said I was an AD and would die an AD. So I fucked of to America and conned my way into a job as a writer at B&B. It was sex, drugs and rock and roll from then on. Luverrrrly!

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