Brothers and Sisters founder Andy Fowler picks his Desert Island Ads

Andy Fowler (left) is ECD of independent London agency Brothers and Sisters. He founded the agency in 2006 after leaving TV company BSkyB where he was creative director. Brothers and Sisters now employs over 60 people in Clerkenwell handling accounts including Sky, the UK’s biggest, Blu e-cigarettes and new win Betfred. It recently hired former BETC London co-founder Matthew Charlton as CEO. Among its best-known work is the Streetmuseum app for the Museum of London.


My 80s West Midlands world was football and bikes and more football.

Nik Kershaw was on the record player.

Birmingham City were in slow and painful decline.

Teenage girls rode horses on the farm next door.

Carling Black label ads were in my universe.

They weren’t ads. They were entertainment events.

The John Lewis ads of their day.

But bigger, bolder, more outrageous and provocative.

Two British working class blokes watching something extraordinary unfold before their eyes and observing ‘I bet he drinks Carling Black Label.’


My true love of ads came much later. From a bunch of music video and commercial directors in the mid-90s who pretty much mastered short form.

Glazer and Cunningham and Gondry.

If hip-hop took the best bit of a music track and looped it over and over to create something fresh, these directors took a similar approach to film.

Inspired by cinema they told intense stories in 90 seconds.

Emotional, witty, captivating, ambitious, groundbreaking.

Glazer’s ‘Ride’ for Wrangler was one of the best.


They also taught me about the importance of music.

As a music video fanatic, I worship at the altar of music and pictures in tandem.

Great alone. Magical together when least expected.

Here’s another cracking example.

From a time when ads were becoming so huge they might swallow the universe whole.

Playstation II ‘Mountain’ Frank Budgen


When I think of characters, there’s one that makes me smile.

I’m a sucker for a repetitive beat as someone who turned 18 in 1990.

Flat Eric. Says nothing. Nods a lot. Rides in an open top car with his Sta-prest mate.

It’s amazing how simple cool can be. It’s effortless.

Levi’s ‘Flat Eric’


Now let’s get funny.

For me Super Noodles and John Smiths are the two most successful comedy brands of the past 20 years.

Super Noodles for originality and sheer silliness.

Super Noodles ‘Face Off’ Mother London


John Smiths for hilariously exposing the Northern English characteristic of unknowing bluntness.

John Smiths ‘Claire from work’


Moving closer to the here and now, I’ve picked three ads that set the standard, that inspire me and remind me of what is possible.

Stories don’t come any sharper than this one.

A young lad, a bit like my Star Wars obsessed 5-year-old, plays Darth Vader around the home.

In his mind, in his game his power is immense.

And suddenly his power breaks through to the real world.

And it blows his mind.

I could watch it all day.

VW ‘Darth Vader’


Brands have tapped into the rebellion of the teenage years since the word teenage was invented.

Levi’s have always done it.

But modern rebellion has a purpose.

It rebels against the system, against globalisation, against the control of the man.

I love the way this campaign summons up the ghosts of America’s forgotten past.

Levi’s ‘Go Forth’ Wieden+Kennedy Portland


And finally, it may be predictable but I don’t remember any other ad having as deep an emotional effect on people as this one.

It’s the most profoundly human work you could ever imagine.

Dougal Wilson’s interpretation of the idea is a genuine piece of art.

And yet again it wouldn’t be anything without the choice of music.

John Lewis ‘Woman’

Back to top button