Countdown synopsis: We all have our favourite commercials which we can’t help but love… unless you’re a boring sod and absolutely despise commercials, of course. Not every commercial has artistic depth, I agree (think of those bloody annoying Cillit Bang ads with the overly-obnoxious Barry Scott screaming down your earholes). But to me, commercials aren’t just about the cliché sort of “advertising something” or “selling a product” – it’s about the creativity behind them. We may not necessarily go out of our way to buy the associated product at the end of the commercial, but that doesn’t stop us appreciating the creativity, and brilliance of that commercial. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I need to go outdoors more. But I have always absolutely adored commercials since I was a young child. My mother would always say to me, “You used to absolutely love watching adverts on the tele when you were a baby.” And I still love watching them now. Okay, maybe I don’t sit in front of the television all day watching nothing but the commercial breaks… in fact, I don’t watch television at all – I only watch YouTube. But the commercials you are about to see, will always have a certain place in my heart, for many reasons.
“In these parts, when a stranger is seen drinking Metz with pure filtered schnapps, everyone wonders if it’s me… without my mask.
One time, it was.”
– Martini Metz, “Man In The Mask” commercial
10: “Kittens” – Crusha, 2003 (UK)
I must have been about 8-years-old when this commercial aired, and I would absolutely love it. To my adult-self, it just looks like one of those crappy flash animations you would see on sites such as Albino Blacksheep or Newgrounds. But even today, over 12 years later, it still holds a special place in my heart. I remember watching shows on cable TV whenever I would sleep over my nan’s house every weekend (because my house still didn’t have cable TV, and we still had bloody dial-up internet!) and watching a marathon of children’s TV shows like Spongebob Squarepants, Edd, Ed, n Eddy, Dexter’s Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends – the lot. And during the commercial breaks, adverts like this used to come on… and sometimes I would only wait for the ad breaks in anticipation, just to get a glimpse of my favourite commercial. Those were the days, and reminiscing about it almost brings a tear to my eye. This advert though is so simple, and so low-budget… but I love it. I mean, what’s not to love about this bloody commercial?! You have a kitten in a flat cap talking in a Northern accent, kittens playing xylophones, guitars, bass, drums, and accordions, all whilst poorly animated cows get squashed by ginormous bottles of Krusha milkshake in a field! If it’s not your guilty pleasure already, it will be once you’ve watched it. If you can’t get enough of these kitten Krusha ads, they done a techno sequel, and even done some sponsorship idents for Nickelodeon a few years back, which includes a Beyoncé “Single Ladies” parody, which is nothing more than brilliant. The genius behind all of these adverts is a director called Joel Veitch at rathergood.com, and he also has a YouTube channel. Go check him out for other hilariously bad-but-good content!
9: “Pearl Diver” – Cheltenham & Gloucester, 2000 (UK)
Ahhhhh… I adore this one. It is such a beautiful commercial. The underwater setting, accompanied by the blissful music. Everything about this advert is just so perfect. You really cannot fault this commercial at all, and it’s a shame it didn’t get the credit or attention I think it rightfully deserved. This was probably one of my first ever commercials I ever remember remembering (if that makes sense). I was probably 4-or-5-years-old when this advert came on, and me and my sister would joke about it all the time. I could watch this commercial all day and not even get slightly bored. It is so mesmerisingly beautiful. It almost makes me want to build an underwater home for myself, fully furnished, just so I can reenact this advert. It is actually quite a rare commercial to find on the internet, and I remember it taking me a few weeks of scouring for it, until I eventually found it. It is also included in my TOP 50: UK TV ADVERTS countdown, opening the video at Number 50. Pity there isn’t an original, high-quality version of this ad… I would do almost anything to get my hands on a copy. I love it, and I hope you will too. Enjoy!
8: “Passing Lanes” – Mitsubishi: Colt, 2004 (UK)
You can probably tell by now, I have a thing for underwater commercials. This is another commercial that is very hard to fault… the only fault I can find is the slightly perverse car registration number, ‘MM 8008 HT’ – seriously, what is up with that? Is this some ‘inside joke’ the editors decide to throw in there? A boob joke? Maybe it’s just me. Nevertheless, the music mixed with the visuals of the woman driving along the seafloor is amazing. Why don’t they make car commercials like this anymore? I actually wouldn’t mind if they remade this whole commercial but with a modern car! I loved this commercial as a child. I loved it so much, I downloaded both the commercial and the actual song and put it on my PSP. I don’t know what the lyrics about pushing buttons has got to do with anything in this commercial, though… but it’s still a flawless mix! Damn, I miss my childhood… it makes me want to cry.
7: “Are You Tuned In?” – Kiss FM, 1991 (UK)
This next commercial is actually a cinema commercial from 1991, meaning I would never get the chance to see this commercial ‘in the flesh’ – the first time I ever saw this ad was quite recently to be honest. I was browsing on HallOfAdvertising‘s YouTube channel, when I came across this one… and I fell in love with it. It starts in complete silence, which firstly makes you think maybe your speakers are faulty or something. You see people dancing along to a song that you cannot hear, so you try to turn up the volume, and then you begin to hear the slight sound of a projector running, and somebody shouting “sound, sound!”. You then realise that this is actually all apart of the gag, and the jokes on you… we hear somebody whistling and more people shouting “sound!”, and at last a title reading, “If you want the sound for this commercial tell the projectionist.” Then the commercial rewinds to the beginning, and replays with the actual music. My favourite part is when the old man says, “Oi, projectionist… turn it up!” – that bloody projectionist. If I wasn’t twerking along to this song, I would have given him a piece of my mind! I really don’t know what it is about this commercial that I love so much. Maybe it’s the originality, and the very good concept. Bloody editors making me think my computer didn’t have sound… and that bloody projectionist… (I bet his name is… Dinkleberg!)
6: “Water In Majorca” – Heineken, 1985 (UK)
Another one of my favourites. Well, obviously… because I’ve included it in the bloody countdown! I actually first watched this commercial on a television programme called something along the lines of, “Top 100 UK TV Adverts” or something to that extent, a few years back. I also had a friend in school who had watched the same programme and we kept on joking in class in a cockney accent, “Da woor’a in Majorca, daa’nt taste like wot it ough’a!” and it was hilarious. What’s not to love about this commercial? You find yourself quoting the commercial out of the blue… it’s that comical and catchy. I’m not going to rinse out this one by explaining what exactly happens in it, but if you haven’t seen it before, give it a watch. It’s bloody brilliant!
5: “Judderman” – Martini: Metz, 2000 (UK)
Here’s another commercial that was one of my first commercials I ever remember remembering. There’s a 99.99% chance you’ve already seen this one, as it’s the Number 1 spot in my TOP 10: SCARIEST/CREEPIEST COMMERCIALS countdown… (either that or you actually remember it, obviously). Back in 2000, this ad was voted the scariest advert of all time, and I don’t even know why. Another mysterious fact about this commercial is that there is no information of who plays the two characters in the ad, except that the Judderman was played by a 6ft4 ballet dancer… what a random fact! Regardless, I think it’s artistically genius. It gives a very dark and indie vibe, and it almost makes you wish the Judderman was a real urban legend – could you imagine that? The spooky ambience, the absolutely brilliant costumes and prop work… it’s just amazing, and truly a work of art. I don’t recall ever being scared like most children were when this advert aired, though. I wish I could have had the chance to actually try a Metz though… not as a child obviously, I mean now I’m an adult. I don’t get why people thought the Judderman was scary, though. He seems like a pretty cool guy to me. Ha ha. Do you get it? Cool guy? Okay, I’ll shut up.
4: “Muck About” – Orange: Photo Messaging, 2003 (UK)
Now I used to be absolutely petrified of this advert when I was younger. Whenever it would come on the television, I would have to run out of the room and hide. I hated it. Worst thing is, my older brother used to tease me and torment me with it for his own sick pleasure. If it wasn’t horrifying PIFs depicting people being trapped in burning houses and being burnt alive scaring me senseless, it was this bloody advert! It does have a creepy twinge to it though, after all it is directed by nobody other than Chris Cunningham, who also brought us the creepy ‘Mental Wealth’ PlayStation commercial, so it makes sense. 12 years later, and I’m in love with this commercial… oh, how times change! The ‘slit-scan’ imaging used in this commercial makes it one that is original and uniquely enticing. The soundtrack in this ad also makes it that little more captivating. It’s hypnotic, I love it. It’s a shame that commercials nowadays focus more on the “let me sell you something with whatever crappy advert I can use” approach and not the “let me sell you something but in a very hypnotic, unique way” approach – am I right? I can’t even remember the last commercial that left me that “wow” feeling… they’re all bloody rubbish nowadays!
3: “Trolley” – Surf: Tropical, 2005 (UK)
Now this… this one… is a proper gem, let me tell you. I know I’ve said this about all of the ads so far, but I bloody loved this one as a kid. I loved it so much in fact, I spent the next decade of my life scouring every television commercial archive and website in the book… but to no avail. Until very recently, where I tried searching for it again on a whim, and I eventually found it on the director’s online showreel. And it filled me with such a copious amount of joy, you wouldn’t believe it. To finally watch it again, after 10 long years, it almost brought a tear to my eye. I bet you think I’m really sad… but I don’t care. And neither does ‘Doris’. She doesn’t give a sh*t about your rundown launderette… she will look through the window of your laundrette in despise… and she couldn’t give a flying sh*t. She will just keep plodding along with her penguin-like walk to her secret tropical paradise filled with Hawaiian babes, and wash her knickers there. F**k yo’ laundrette, bitch. I love the one and only line in the commercial… “You okay, Doris?” – “Yer’ alright?” Bloody love it. ‘Doris’ didn’t choose the thug life… the thug life chose her. She actually reminds me of my own nan, if I’m honest… she even waddles like her.
2: “Man In The Mask” – Martini: Metz, 1996 (UK)
This is another one I stumbled upon whilst on the HallOfAdvertising‘s channel… and yep, you guessed it… fell in love with it. The fact that the protagonist in this commercial remains completely anonymous, due to him constantly wearing his red ski-mask, is what makes this advert mysteriously original and alluring. The atmosphere created in all three of these commercials is captivating… we forget the ad is selling us an alcoholic beverage. I have a thing for cold, snowy, scenic, atmospheric places… I have always wanted to go skiing in the Alps, or stay in a cosy log-cabin in Iceland or Greenland or somewhere like that… these commercials were apparently filmed in Argentina, though. That’s probably why I fancy this commercial so much. It’s a shame I was probably only about 1 when this commercial aired… the commercial makes me want to try a Metz, but it’s a shame it got discontinued a few years later. To any of you ‘older’ folk reading this, who were fortunate to actually try Metz and would be willing to describe what Metz actually tasted like, give me a shout. I would love to know. All in all, I think this ad is captivating and mysterious… and I would describe it as ‘original’ but it feels like I’m repeating myself… so calling it ‘original’ would be a very unoriginal thing for me to do. METZ move on, shall we? Ha ha… see what I did there?
1: “Litany” – The Independent, 2000 (UK)
I truly have saved the best ’til last with this countdown. This final one is truly a masterpiece, and you really have to watch it to know exactly what I’m talking about. It takes the “don’t do this” and the “don’t do that” of society and really puts things into perspective. My own interpretation of this ad is as follows:
The advert shows us there are many things we shouldn’t do in everyday situations, such as “don’t walk on the grass” or “don’t sit too close to the tele(vision)” – and it leaves us questioning… “says who?” Now I’m obviously not saying the advert is telling us to go all haywire and ignore all the rules… but instead it wants us to stop and think about what things are really important… and what isn’t. We get caught up with people telling us what we can’t do, that the things we can do are somewhat forgotten and become slightly insignificant, leaving us living pretty much like robots, and leaving us forgetting about our own human potentials, and what is really important to us. We forget what it’s like to be different, as we are always trying to abide by the rules and act ‘normal’ – anything out of the ordinary is scornfully frowned upon. Why do we think this? It’s because we have been programmed to think so… ever since we were born… and not even realise it. We are set ‘rules’ as children, such as “don’t run with scissors” and “don’t play with fire”, it becomes programmed within our subconscious at a young age, thus leaving us feeling we always have to abide by what is expected of us in life. We become anxious about not being considered ‘normal’ and we become worried about not ‘fitting in’. The narrator’s repetition of the “don’t do this, don’t do that” commands makes it feel like he is nagging us throughout the entirety of the commercial… so much in fact, we start to feel annoyed. We feel, even as viewers, to rebel against this nagging narrator. He becomes very much like an overprotective, nagging parent, until the very end, where the narrator’s voice becomes less instructive and more soothed…“don’t buy… don’t read…” Finally, it concludes with a man reading a newspaper the narrator clearly told him not to buy. And what newspaper is it? It’s The Independent – just like how we should have been behaving all this time… independent. And the reason the whole commercial is in black and white – just like an actual newspaper – is to show us that maybe the world isn’t as categorical (i.e. isn’t as black and white) as society wants us to think. Maybe we can add colour. Maybe we can rebel sometimes. Maybe we can do the things we are told not to do. Maybe we can be different.
That was my interpretation, so feel free to agree or disagree. But that my friends, is how you make a bloody good commercial. I’m out.
Final thought: I really hoped you enjoyed watching this very personal countdown of mine, and I hope you have enjoyed reading this. If you have any favourite commercials that are special to you (for whatever reason that being), I would love it if you shared them with me. Adverts aren’t just about advertising, funnily enough. Some are there to sell products, which can be a snooze-fest. Others are there to leave an impact, and to leave you reflecting upon things you never knew were that important, you never knew existed, or you never knew you could ever reflect on.
Thank you all so much for your constant support, and I wish you all a very good week.