British airways
Ellen Forster

Member Article

Top 10 British advertising campaigns of the 21st century

We all have fond memories of advertisements from our youth. My parents generation hold the 1970s Smash advertisement in high regard, with the adorable little robots and catchy jingle. Whereas my generation will remember the Tango ad which sparked chaos in playgrounds across the UK as kids emulated the Orange Man’s hijinks.

We’ve compiled a list of our favourite British advertising campaigns from the last few years, some you may know - others you may not.

1. British Airways - Magic of Flying

British Airways interactive billboards has received one accolade after another after its launch, winning the Grand Prix in the direct category at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

The billboards, produced by Ogilvy 12th Floor, are located on busy roads, displaying a child pointing up to the sky when one of their planes flies overhead. The endearing advert even notes where the plane is flying as well as its flight number… cool, huh?

2. o2 - Be More Dog

O2 plays on the age-old “dog or cat person” debate with their 2013 campaign entitled Be More Dog wherein a cat ditches its lethargic and disinterested ways and instead takes on the enthusiasm and bounding happiness of its canine counterpart.

The campaign succeeded in making O2 stand out from its competitors on a technological level, while employing the internet’s favourite animal in a hilarious escapade and condensing all of this genius down to a three word slogan.

3. Cadbury’s - Spots Vs. Stripes

In the spirit of the London 2012 Olympics, Cadbury’s released a new wafer chocolate bar alongside the inventive campaign Spots vs. Stripes. Putting aside the irony of using the Olympics to promote a chocolate bar, this campaign inspired a competitive notion amongst children and adults alike. By associating itself with the patriotic phenomenon that was the London 2012 Olympics, Cadbury’s managed to firmly establish itself in the British consciousness as a national treasure.

4. Marks and Spencer - This is M&S Food

We’ve all tried taking photos of our teatime concoctions and found ourselves consequentially disappointed with the outcome. M&S has succeeded in the impossible - making food photogenic, or should I say videogenic.

These adverts are spectacularly well executed, from seductive voice (originally that of Irish actress Dervla Kirwan) to the high definition tantalising dishes.. M&S plays on its reputation as a provider of high quality treats in this mouth-watering campaign.

5. Irn Bru - Fanny

The scottish fizzy drinks brand has never taken itself too seriously, with its bright orange billboards plastered with hilarious but ever-so-slightly offensive slogans. In its 2014 advert campaign, Irn Bru really takes the biscuit by igniting the England/Scotland debate as a Scottish father discovers his daughter is dating a young English lad, and only a slurp of the orange stuff can calm him down. Another ad from the same campaign sees a young Scottish girl name her newborn baby “Fanny” much to the father’s dismay.

Irn Bru’s campaign is about as close to the knuckle as you can get in this day and age, with Ofcom receiving a grand total of 24 complaints about the “Fanny” advert.

6. Cravendale - Cats with Thumbs

Another brand to make use of the internet’s obsession with cats is Cravendale, which launched the seemingly random Cats with Thumbs campaign in 2011. The TV ad, which was narrated by actor Tim Curry, depicts a dystopian world in which cats are king and have acquired opposable thumbs.

Cravendale has managed to set itself apart from other milk brands with its hilarious use of advertising, as well as this campaign you may also remember the “Cows Want It Back” ads in which a bunch of crazed cows hunt down their milk because it’s just too good to share.

7. T Mobile - Dance

Flash mobs are everywhere nowadays whether it be wedding proposals, birthday gestures or ad campaigns - as a nation, we’ve just about had our fill of flash mobs. But back in 2009 T Mobile’s Dance advert in Liverpool Street Station struck a chord with many of us after receiving almost 40 million views on YouTube.

This advert is bound to put a smile on your face within the first few seconds as it continues into a crescendo of overtly happy singing and dancing, surprising the London commuters on their journeys to work. T Mobile truly understood the requirements of making a great viral video.

8. Channel 4 - Meet the Superhumans

Channel 4’s promotion of the London 2012 Paralympics was fascinating to watch. When Channel 4 won the rights to broadcast the Paralympics in 2010,only 14% of the population said they were looking forward to the games.

The television advert “Meet the Superhumans” was inspiring and tongue-in-cheek, encouraging the nation to talk about disabilities and bringing attention to the spectacular feats achieved by these truly “super” individuals.

9. Guinness - Made of More

Guinness is no stranger to inventive advertising campaigns. The 1998 “Horse Surfing” ad is often regarded as one of the best ever, with its epic black and white vision of masculinity and thirst.

Guinness retains its creative edge and dominant voice over with its 2012 “Cloud” TV ad in which it tells the story of a rebellious floating cloud. Although the advert may seem leagues away from the horses campaign, it still maintains the strong themes of its nineties counterpart.

10. Yeo Valley - Boyband

The last in our list is the mind-boggling advert from Yeo Valley. Another milk brand which uses humour to differentiate itself in a saturated market. The advert is a music video wherein not-your-typical boyband sing and rap about Yeo Valley while dressed as farmers. This may not be the most intellectual or thought-provoking advertisement of all time but it certainly gets a few laughs and with that, demonstrates a truly British feel.

Header image used under wikimedia creative commons license. Credit: Eluveitie

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ellen Forster .

Enjoy the read? Get Bdaily delivered.

Sign up to receive our popular morning London email for free.

* Occasional offers & updates from selected Bdaily partners

Our Partners

Top Ten Most Read