Barry Pilling is creative director and a founder of Telegraph Hill. He started his career in TV development on projects for BBC Three, Sky and Channel 5 as well as producing YouTube music videos and comedy shorts. After moving into online content for broadcasters he launched Telegraph Hill with Garret Keogh and Jack Simcock. Telegraph Hill’s clients include broadcasters BBC, Sky and ITV plus HP, TGI Fridays and Betway.
Desert Island Ads
I believe in putting the audience first, so I’m not including any interruptive ads in my selections. Advertising is at its best when it thinks about the audience and taps into their world, using fandoms, meaningful causes and an editorial deftness of touch. It’s at its worst when it invades their home eight times a night, repeating a branded 30sec message in their face when they’re trying to watch TV. I believe agencies built to deliver the latter will struggle in the coming years.
So I’ve chosen ads that have substance, either because they resonate with the consumer on an emotional level or they tap into something they genuinely care about.
CHEVY RUNS DEEP
I have played this at conferences and people have cried. It’s a well-researched, well-cast piece of storytelling. My TV instincts tingle with admiration when I see it.
LUTHER SEASON 3
A scene that didn’t make the cut turned into a graphic novel and delivered with a message of thanks from the writer. A genius way of appreciating your audience, proving commitment to your craft and ensuring they demand a new series.
SAINSBURY’S CHRISTMAS 2013
REAL PEOPLE. DOING REAL THINGS. What a breath of fresh air that breaks through the fakery of traditional advertising. Watching this I can see my family, my friends, the people I know, the moments I care about at Christmas. The kids’ reaction when their actual dad returns from actual Afghanistan melts even the Scroogiest of hearts.
ADELE: ‘HELLO’ TEASER
Using an X Factor ad spot in a new way, allowing fans to sample the sound and lyrics of Adele’s new track and letting them do the rest. I have a background in television, so I’d always choose to mobilise fans rather than push branded messages and this does it perfectly, kickstarting the biggest music release of the year.
CLEVER BUOY BY OPTUS
A huge communications brand using their technology and budget to solve a real issue people care about. A much better use of budget than pushing an expensive, repetitive message, and one that earns my respect and lifelong loyalty.
DEATH STAR CAKE EXPLOSION
Jumping on the Great British Bake Off conversation was a brilliant move from Star Wars. Who needs media spend when you can mobilise your audience this effectively?
OASIS: ‘REFRESHING STUFF’
An advert that knows it’s an advert… I love it! It’s great to see outdoor advertising that understands its context and its role in the audience’s life. Certainly got my attention.
SAVE THE CHILDREN: ‘SAVE SYRIA’s CHILDREN’
It’s often hard to highlight foreign causes without feeling disconnected and overwhelmed. But this video makes it so simple and relatable for any British parent, hitting them right in the feels, showing the fragility of the situation and allowing them to understand how it would feel if their child was suffering.
DOVE REAL BEAUTY SKETCHES
When it comes to beauty brands Dove is ahead in its audience-first approach (but has been known to use fakery and actors at times, and is rightly called out by its savvy audience). But this instance fantastically highlights an issue that goes to the heart of our society – negative self-image. So simple, yet so relevant to millions of people.
NEWCASTLE BROWN ALE: #BANDOFBRANDS
Why spend millions of dollars on one ad spot when you could just crowd-fund it with a group of smaller brands? That’s exactly what Newcastle Brown Ale did in their hilarious Superbowl anti-advert. Brilliant way to ad-hack the Superbowl and stand up for the little guys!