Designer Steve Conchie of Brandon Consultants picks his Desert Island Ads

Steve Conchie is executive creative director of Brandon Consultants.

Desert Island Ads

Although I’ve spent a majority of my career in brand design I’ve always held an incredibly deep affection and admiration for the world of advertising. Even as a child I recall actually enjoying the ad breaks as much as the programmes (that interrupted them.) Maybe it was this behaviour that sparked my love for creativity and those truly great ideas that make you want to literally stand and applaud. Applaud not only brilliant creative thinking but the tenacity and bravery from agency and client alike to get it all on screen.

The following ads are but a few that I’d take I’ll be honest. And I know the minute I submit this I’ll kick myself for one I’ve missed, but these are the ones that came to me first as I sat back and pondered. They’re the ones that made me smile and even laugh out loud. They’re the ones where I recall being open mouthed when I first viewed them, which I guess is the whole point. If it’s memorable, job done.


Hamlet – Photobooth

A blast from my past and a laugh out loud master-class in dialogue-free communication. This ad must be close to 40 years old but it’s timeless. This particular spot lives longest in my memory.

The ad was awarded the accolade of eighth-greatest television ad of all time by Channel 4 and Campaign named it as one of the top 10 funniest commercials of all time. And who would argue with that? Certainly not me.

Ikea – Ghosts

Ikea can do no wrong in my eyes and Mother absolutely smashed it with this. It’s not just a fantastic idea beautifully executed, but it’s the little details and observations throughout that had me, well, jealous!

Levi’s – Drug store

A tough one to choose in terms of the Levi’s ads of this era, they just seemed to nail it each time, particularly with their choice of music. Directed by Michel Gondry this one just edged it for me. The style made the rug pull at the end all the more powerful.

Geico – unskippable

I feel there’s a pattern developing here. As you can tell, I like a giggle. For me it was a bit of a WTF! moment when I first spotted it. However it’s such a simple idea, orginally inspired by the US comedy series ‘Police Squad’. If you don’t laugh at this you’re not human.

Reebok – Belly’s gonna get ya

An ad using the stuff of nightmares to sell Reebok trainers. Again, one that just grabs you from the first second and then only revealing the product at the very last. I’d have loved to have been in the room when this one was sold in.

Moneysupermarket -Epic strut

Like the famous Cadbury’s Gorilla commercial this one was impossible to follow. You have to start from scratch after brilliance like this. Nothing has come close since.

Honda – Power of dreams

I just love this one. It grabs you and challenges you. Who knew we could read so fast?!

Tena – Man control

How do you talk to men about urine leakage? Good question. Well, you normalise it and make them laugh, but not hard mind. We can’t be having any accidents.

British meat

There’s a real honesty to this. I laughed and felt emotional at the same time. Just lovely.

Guinness – Surfer

Directed by Jonathan Glazer, the ad was inspired by Walter Crane’s 1893 painting Neptune’s Horses and went on to be named the top of Channel 4 and The Sunday Times 100 Greatest TV Adverts in 2000. It’s just a thing of beauty. Definitely one of my goose bumps and ‘open mouth’ moments.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.