Fresh eyes

What is the best TV advert of all time?

What is the best TV advert of all time
Simon Turner Freshfield Managing Director

Published by Simon Turner,
Chief Executive & Group Client Director at Freshfield

The best TV advert? Simple. One that people talk about for years.

You weren’t expecting a definitive answer were you? Oh, ok, let’s discuss.

Firstly a bit of background. Television advertising is riddled with advantages and disadvantages and a lot of businesses are not able to make use of it. But when it works, it really works.

Take the reach for example. The number of people exposed to TV is increasing day-by-day and with the advent of advanced technologies and enhanced internet connectivity, it is becoming more and more available. It is estimated that on average people are spending four to five hours a day watching television. A captive audience that runs into the millions.

It uses a variety of human senses be it sight, sound and motion and gives the audience a real feel for how the product or service works. TV often takes centre stage in people’s homes, living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, exactly where people spend a lot of time. It is also the increase of channels which is taking this medium outside the domain of large organisations. More and more medium-sized firms are seeing great benefits from using regional channels and getting a locally adapted message across.

But the cost is always a challenge. Expenditure comes in a number of ways and it’s not always the air time which takes the majority of the budget. Times have changed since the first ever television advert. It was July 1941 when the US watchmaker Bulova paid the princely sum of $4 for a ten second spot on a New York television station with a simple but effective picture of a clock on a US map with the slogan ‘America runs on Bulova time’.

Move forward 70 years and a 30 second slot for the precious American Super Bowl is sold for $2.7 million, before you even think about production costs.

There are many different opinions on the most expensive advert in history but it is thought that Chanel No 5 paid in the region of £18 million for the acclaimed director Baz Luhrmann to produce the 2005 advert which featured Nicole Kidman falling in love with a mysterious stranger.

So, price has certainly moved on, but has advert quality? I guess that is all down to opinion but for me, you can spend all the money in the world but if your advert isn’t original, funny or clever, it could go missing.

I have picked five of my personal favourites, see if you agree:

Coca Cola Christmas advert: It spawned a generation of people saying ‘it isn’t Christmas until I see the Coca Cola adverts.’ The adverts have been running for ten years and simply don’t age.

Honda Cog advert: It brought Honda back from oblivion into the fray of the European automotive industry.

Sony Bravia ‘bouncy balls’ advert: Unbelievably no CGI was used but in my opinion it is the simple music choice which makes it.

Cadbury’s gorilla advert: This took Britain by storm and has meant Phil Collins interviews will never be the same again.

Guinness Domino advert: One of the most expensive to make (estimated £10 million) but Guinness will be the first people to say it was worth every penny.

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