25 September 2019

Desert Island Ads

As Executive Creative Director at Brandon Consultants, Steve Conchie brings close to 25 years of creative experience in brand design to bear. We asked him for his top 10 ads that shaped and inspired his thinking over the decades.

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 my favourite programmes. 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 30 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 – drugstore

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.

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 men – 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.

Audi – Clowns by BBH  

Such a simple idea, but like all great ideas we start with making connections. The clown connection was a perfect way to show off new tech ‘Audi Technology. Clown Proof’. Brilliant.


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