Dan Roberts of The Romans picks his Desert Island Ads

Dan Roberts is creative director of The Romans, part of the Mother family of agencies

Okay, so the obvious approach here is to choose ads that make you look thoughtful, wise, cultured, dare I say it maybe even inspirational. But let’s be honest, if you’re stuck on a desert island and all you’ve got is a bunch of ads to keep you company, you need to choose wisely. Forget trying to look like Don Draper, these ads have gotta give you that 30” hit of escapism and entertainment, time after time.

So when that becomes the criteria, the obvious choices quickly fell by the wayside for me and I realised there’s only a few absolute bangers that I still go to, reference and enjoy until this very day… Shock it’s nothing from the last 5 years, but that’s an entirely different conversation to have.

Johnnie Walker – The Man Who Walked Around The World

Okay, so first up is a no brainer for me. This, without a doubt is one of the best examples of storytelling you will ever see. And yes, technically I’ve already broken the rules because it was never meant to be an ad.

This was a brief for an internal film to mark Johnnie Walker’s 200th year. But back then BBH never missed an opportunity and they turned the story of Johnnie Walker into a simple but stunning six minute retelling of the brand’s history. Ohh, and they cast Robert Carlyle and did it in a single take. (Yes I know this only matters to creatives and directors but come on! That’s impressive). Legend has it, Carlyle took just 40 takes to land this masterpiece, stomping through the hills of Loch Doyne. Today’s version would have been multiple camera transitions and ended up as a 15 second cutdown.


Canal+ – The Bear

Next we head across the pond for this Medieval spectacular that lands an idea SO OBVIOUS you can’t believe it hasn’t already been done. But that’s BETC at their best. A simply beautiful insight, an epic production and a dialogue that still makes me laugh. Also, I’ve never wanted to be mates with a rug until this guy turned up on the scene.


Louis Vuitton – Dream

A boxing ring. A calligrapher. The words of Ali. The vocals of Mos Def. What more do you need?

VW – Mr W

Again, it’s not an ‘ad’ in the traditional sense but do I care? No. This is a dark but laugh out loud (it predates ‘lol’) piece of film that I still reference to this day. It marks a time when VW were at the top of their game and near unbeatable. C’mon, you didn’t expect me to do a desert island ads and not have VW in it did you?

DirectTV – Get Rid Of Cable

And finally…To be honest this could of been any number of DirectTV, Skittles or Old Spice ads directed by the legend – and arguably one of the greatest – Tom Kuntz. He pioneered a surreal shooting style that was often copied but never matched and this particular series is guaranteed to keep me laughing on my desert island… That is until I discover a discarded volleyball on the shore that becomes my only companion, and we begin to argue over why a man walking through Scotland, a bear skin rug, a heavyweight champion, a windy gentleman and a warning to never wake up in a roadside ditch are the perfect collection of desert island ads.

One Comment

  1. The first two are my all-time favorites. As Dan says… Nothing from the last five years. Why am I not surprised. Soon, we will be buried under a mountain of Super Bowl spots that will be examples of the current pathetic state of the ad biz.

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