Leagas Delaney’s Nigel Roberts is one of advertising’s most awarded copywriters. He began his career at Saatchi & Saatchi and first worked at Leagas Delaney in the mid 1990’s. Over the years he has been head of copy at Bainsfair Sharkey Trott, group head and head of copy at GGT, then creative director at TBWA, Ogilvy, AMV/BBDO and CHI & Partners. He returned to Leagas Delaney in 2011 as creative cirector of the London office.
This could have been easy. But many of the brilliant ads that first sprang to mind have already been selected. Bugger. Levis’ ‘Creek’ and ‘Drugstore’, VW’s ‘Snow Plough’ and ‘Funeral’, Alka Seltzer’s ‘Spicy Meatballs’, Guinness’ ‘Surfer’, Lego’s ‘Kipper’ and Lynx’s ‘Getting Dressed’. All are seminal pieces of advertising excellence. Repeating them wouldn’t be very interesting. But the years have produced plenty of similarly enviable belters. So here are my favorite ten of them.
Sony Bravia ‘Balls’
The only good thing about hindsight is that everyone can have it. So every time someone produces something outstanding, it becomes the new benchmark for half the briefs going into creative departments, irrespective of whether it’s appropriate or realistic. The first that I remember was BA’s ‘Manhattan’. There was The Guardian’s ‘Points of View’. Tango’s ‘Hit of Real Oranges’ and ‘St George’. And there was this. Utterly beautiful. A tall order for any creatives to follow. And, for visual purity, I’m not sure that anyone has. Damn it.
The Economist ‘Sit Next To You’
I miss The Economist’s poster campaign. It was consistently good for over 20 years. And occasionally exceptional. But of all the award winners, this was always the one I wish I’d done.
Every brief these days asks for a 360° idea. And all too often, about 270° of what people come up with is just a media bandwagon-hopping waste of spend. But this. This idea was huge. Another industry benchmark that’s kept agencies working late ever since.
In a sector more usually defined by empty platitudes and spot-the-difference visualization, a brilliantly simple message, beautifully crafted in every way.
Playstation 2 ‘Mental Wealth’
Of course ‘Double Life’ was an excellent commercial – great writing embellished by brave direction. But ‘Mental Wealth’ managed to go simpler and weirder.
Mad as a bag of frogs. Perfect writing, casting and direction.
After years of British Rail’s dubious claims of ‘getting there’, this commercial left all their baggage on the platform, stopped apologizing, and charmingly presented us with an inarguable, positive truth.
The Independent ‘Litany’
I can’t imagine anyone voicing this commercial better than John Cooper Clarke. I’ve heard quite a few people insist that advertising isn’t art or poetry. Sometimes it is.
Statements of ‘the client wants a Sony Balls’ became replaced by ‘the client wants a drumming gorilla’. Yes, it polarized people. But then the best work usually does.