Alas John never had the opportunity as the justly-celebrated creative director of Boase Massimi Pollitt – a genius when it came to television – died in 2006.
But years before he offered his Top Ten ads to a magazine I co-founded called Commercials.
And John, as ever, was original choosing ten Hamlet commercials from rival agency Collett Dickenson Pearce, in many ways the precursor to the great BMP (which became BMP DDB and has now morphed into adam&eveDDB).
Here’s what John wrote:
“In 1963 Tim Warriner and Roy Carruthers wrote a pleasant little commercial for a cigar showing a man with his leg in plaster enjoying a smoke.
The choice of music was inspired – a jazz version of Bach’s Air on a G String. After 72 commercials the formula is still going strong in what must be the most distinctive TV campaign in British advertising.
It has won more than 100 awards and a Hamlet ad has appeared in almost every issue of the DADA annual since it started.
Every year it must get increasingly difficult to find new twists but the ingenious lads at Collett Dickenson Pearce continue to surprise us with more delights and, if anything, the standard’s getting better.
Only a campaign based on a genuinely empathetic idea could last this long, but in my view the magic ingredient is that wistful music. Try playing the films with any other piece and they’re not quite the same.
Here are ten of my favourites.“
Here are the ones we’ve managed to find (with their accomplished directors).
Bunker – Paul Weiland
Hospital – Brian Mindel
Canute – Alan Parker
Tennis – Alan Parker
Rubik’s Cube – Peter Levelle
Robot – Bob Brooks
Crash of ’87 – Bernard Lodge
Photo Booth – Graham Rose
AC/DC – Stak Avaliotis
(Can’t find this one – sure someone knows where it is – so here’s a little reel including some John didn’t choose but they’re all brill. Interesting array of British acting talent too. Plus a certain launderette that may have been noticed by someone at BBH )
Man in Handcuffs – Keith Ewart
(Ditto this one – so here’s another reel headed by another of Graham Rose’s efforts).
Some people might say you can’t do this these days. You can’t advertise tobacco obviously, certainly not the restorative effects of a Hamlet in a hospital maternity ward. Buying the prime airtime for a 100 plus ads would be a bit pricey too. But the ads themselves aren’t so expensive, as my friend Mark Andrews, one-time head of TV at CDP, has remarked in these pages. They’d take the internet by storm.
So thanks Mr Webster. Here’s three of John’s ads for BMP.