The opening bars of Marvin Gaye’s hit I Heard It Through The Grapevine are among the most evocative in television advertising history. For a whole generation, at least, those first few moody seconds only bring one image to mind – that of model Nick Kamen walking into a launderette. The ad might not have been set in the eighties (more likely a mythical fifties), but for many those first few seconds can evoke memories of an entire decade. But Nick Kamen (who only got the part on condition he lost weight) wasn’t the first to get his kit off in a launderette. An early Hamlet ad showed a bowler-hatted, be-suited gent undressing in front of a group of women and sticking his clothes, and even his hat, in a washing machine. Sadly, no one remembers the actor’s name. And, as far as we know, he never had a hit single written for him by Madonna…
Kamen’s “Lauderette” was shown for the first time on Boxing Day 1985. Thought up by John Hegarty and Barbara Noakes of BBH, the ad campaign was designed to try and save Levi’s flagging fortunes; the company was under attack from all sorts of other fashionable brands. In short, Levi’s (which had been going since the 1850s) were becoming the sort of jeans worn by people’s dads. And not even trendy dads – it was middle-aged “fuddy duddies” wearing “polyester Levi’s Action Slacks”. Research showed that the intended target audience for Levi’s 501 (15 to 19 year olds) saw the United States of the fifties and sixties as cool time and place in history: James Dean, Elvis Presley and Sam Cooke all belonged to this mythical, wondrous world. Unless the ad agencies came up with something new, the alternative was going with the American campaign for 501, which was all about how well the jeans fitted in the United States of Ronald Reagan. The image seemed the opposite of MTV and European chic.
So, director Roger Lyons was given the go-ahead to film an ad that showed drop dead gorgeous model Nick Kamen stripping down to his boxer shorts, while flustered women and bemused elders looked on, and then sitting and waiting while his jeans were in the wash. All this and Marvin Gaye thrown in too. (Except it wasn’t actually Marvin Gaye but a newly recorded “session” version of the song, though the original was later re-released off the back of the ad and entered the charts all over again…). “Grapevine” was the first of four Levi’s-related songs to all make the Top Ten, a feat that made advertisers realise that choosing the right music was of paramount importance because it really could help push a product on TV. They call it “Integrated Marketing”, and it meant a single in the chart and an ad on the box simultaneously, as well as the 501 logo alongside the artist’s name on the record sleeve in every record shop in Britain and USA.
Kate Thornton, a famous English journalist, was a schoolgirl at the time and remembers the effect that Kamen’s striptease had on her: “I remember that the ad was running at a cinema before a movie, and I hadn’t seen it on the tely at that point. So I went to the cinema just to see the ad…” she says. “The commercial made those jeans sexy at a time when Levi’s were struggling to make their product appealing to women of my age, and really that’s where the big spenders come from. Suddenly those jeans became a must-heve item! I only wanted them because Nick Kamen wore them and took them off…”
Thornton wasn’t the only teenager to feel that away. Consumers wrote in to Levi’s in their thousands asking for picture of Kamen. Meanwhile, sales of 501 shot up by an incredible 800% in the wake of the ad, which eventually had to be taken off the air because the Company couldn’t produce enough jeans to meet the new demand… By 1987 sales of Levi’s jeans were reported to be 20 times what they had been just three years earlier. The commercial also boosted sales of boxer shorts to a record high, though the ad agency only put Kamen in a pair of boxers because they weren’t allowed to show their hero in a pair of jockeys. And it wasn’t just teenage girl buying the jeans: boys were impressed by what Kamen could do. “The ad said: wear Levi’s jeans and you’ll be a rebel without a cause!” says psychologist Dr David Lewis. “You’ll be able to alienate older people (who young people despite anyway) and you can be cool…”
Inevitably, Nick Kamen was suddenly flavour of the month. Madonna wrote a song for him called “Each Time You Break My Heart” which made it into Top Ten. Kamen was soon a fully-fledged pop star, but his new career was short lived. Subsequent singles failed and Kamen moved to Los Angeles where he was to live for a time with British television presenter Amanda de Cadenet. “There wasn’t life for Nick Kamen after Levi’s because he broke the rule…he talked!” says Thornton. “We just liked looking at him. It was as simple as that. He was a model and he just had these smouldering beautiful looks… but fundamentally he was to be looked at and lusted over, and never to be taken seriously…”. Nick Kamen turned a new Levi’s ad into a much-hyped media event and ended up eventually being replaced in 1999 by a fluffy yellow pupped called Flat Eric…
(Mark Robinson, The Sunday Times)
Advertising Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Creative: John Hegarty, Greg Mills, Barbara Nokes
Director: Roger Lyons
Production: Mike Dufficy & Partners
Director of Photography: Richard Greatrex
Editor: Ian Weil
Music: Karl Jenkins, Mike Ratledge
One year ago, following the final episode of the Attenborough-narrated cold-climes series Frozen Planet, the BBC aired a two-minute trailer subtly celebrating the 60-odd years that the iconic TV personality has spent working on non-fiction programming for the network. Visually, the spot, from ad agency RKCR/Y&R, doesn’t deviate far from the staple shots of most natural science shows. Brightly colored birds, time lapses of blooming flowers, panoramas of majestic terrain, and pensive baboons all make their obligatory appearances. How can you not love this? It’s surprising and clever, yet also dignified. The only words in it are from the song ” What a Wonderful World” written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss, and of course made famous by Louie Armstrong. This works so well because Attenborough speaks the lyrics—pleasant platitudes that we’ve almost stopped noticing, as the song has become audio wallpaper—in his signature cadence of wonder and delight. This renews our appreciation both of the song, and the power of Attenborough’s delivery. And of course, it’s all done to support stunning footage of nature, nicely edited with subtle sound effects to match the pictures. More than the sum of its parts. “It’s a wonderful world, watch it with us,” reads the BBC trailer’s tagline. Fantastic.
Advertising Agency: RKCR/Y&R, UK
Executive Creative Director: Mark Roalfe
Creatives: Ted Heath, Paul Angus
1 – Procter & Gamble – Best Job
Arguably the most memorable Olympics 2012 ad, Procter & Gamble champions mums in this commercial titled ‘Best job’. The tear jerker, created by Wieden + Kennedy Portland, follows four child athletes on their path to the London Olympic Games, supported, cared for and encouraged by their mothers every step of the way.
2 – Nike – Find Your Greatness
Nike does it again. Now famous for its ambush marketing tactics around major global sporting events, the sports apparel giant launched ‘Find your greatness’ in 25 countries yesterday to coincide with the opening ceremony. Cleverly avoiding any mention of London 2012 and the Olympic rings, the ad features places across the world with ‘London’ in their names, along with local everyday athletes enjoying their sports. The ad was created by Nike’s longterm agency partner Wieden + Kennedy.
3 – Coca-Cola – Move to the Beat
Mother London, Mark Ronson and Coca-Cola traveled the world to create a new dance track using the sounds of sport from 5 Olympic hopefuls.
4 – Omega – Star Me Up
A remix of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Start me up’ sets the pace for this commercial with the same title for Omega, the official timekeeper of the Olympics 2012. The ad lingers on the moments right before the start of a race or event, the tension felt by the athletes as they hone their focus for the task ahead.
5 – McDonald’s – Rivals
The Olympic spirit lives within us all. And when gold medals don’t provide enough motivation for greatness, McDonald’s is proud to serve the Happy Meals, Big Macs, and Fries that put everyone in the mood for a little competition.
6 – British Airways – London Calling
British Airways has launched its Olympic advert as anticipation builds ahead of the Games. It features one of BA’s jets strolling through London and showcasing landmarks such as Trafalgar Square and the Palace of Westminster, before taking in the Olympic Stadium in Stratford. Best of all though, it is set to the soundtrack of The Clash’s London Calling
7 – Adidas – What will you take?
Among others, Olympic Games sponsor Adidas created ‘What will you take?’ in support of Team Great Britian in partnership with agency Sid Lee. The colourful advert touches on all aspects of being an Olympian, both good and bad, as it challenges the athletes to take the stage and embrace this fleeting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
8 – Icy Dew – Sixty Percent
Taking a break from the blood, sweat and tears approach, Coca-Cola bottled water brand Icy Dew created this amusing ’60 per cent water’ TVC in partnership with BBH Shanghai ahead of the Games. While this one might not stir the Olympian in you, it will certainly make you chuckle.
9 – Powerade – Power Through
Another Wieden + Kennedy addition, Powerade‘s ‘Power through’ Olympics advert focuses on “the line between breaking point and breaking through”, the extra effort that makes the difference between those athletes that go home with a medal and those that return disappointed. More muscles, more tension and another emotionally charged voice-over, the real stuff of Olympics advertising.
10 – Samsung – Are You Ready?
Cheil Worldwide launched this ‘Are you ready?’ ad for Olympic sponsor Samsung in support of its Galaxy S3 model across 20 countries this week. Olympics ambassador David Beckham signals the start of the event by kicking a ball against a gong in an impressive long-range shot.
11 – Visa- The Difference
Worldwide sponsor Visa has been putting its name to the Olympic Games for 25 years. This ad, titled ‘The difference’, was created by TBWA Chiat Day Los Angeles and narrated by Hollywood legend Morgan Freeman. This is just one in a series of Sepia-coloured ads marking Visa’s quarter century partnership with the Games this year.
12 – National Lottery Funded Athletes – Jenny Meadow Mother’s Story
Inspired by the story of 800 metres runner Jenny Meadows’ mother, our newest TV advert looks at how National Lottery funding helps British athletes achieve their dreams. Extended version. Thanks to TNL players we’re helping over 1,200 British athletes fulfil their dreams at London 2012 and beyond. No-one has contributed more to our athletes than our players.
13 – EDF – Powering The Games
EDF is an official partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, supplying the Olympic Park with low carbon electricity for a sustainable Olympics to remember.
14 – GlaxoSmithKline – Marlon Devonish
Touching on the ugly side of sport, GlaxoSmithKline features English sprinter Marlon Devonish to promote its provision of anti-doping laboratory services at the Games. Created by TBWA London, the advert takes the viewer inside the athlete’s body to experience the tension and exhilaration as he prepares to run the race of a lifetime.
15 – BP – Fuelling The Future
BP is proud to be the Official Oil and Gas Partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as a Premier Partner of the Cultural Olympiad.
Four film, one campaign.
Sales of Heineken are not high enough, so the makers of the ad have an excruciating punishment in store magician Paul Daniels and his wife Debbie singing a syrupy duet, off-key, on a kitsch set. As the pair tunelessly croon “Close to You” a strapline appears: “Buy a pint of Heineken, or we’ll keep running this commercial”. The second ad opens with the line, “It seems some people didn’t takes the last Heineken commercial seriously. Perhaps this might persuade them”, and, as if by magic, Vanessa Feltz and Peter Stringfellow drop from the sky dressed as angels and join in the song. The words “Remember, buy Heineken or we’ll keep running these commercials” close the second ad. But it is the third execution that causes the most belly laughs. With the strapline “Good news. Sales of Heineken have risen dramatically, but not dramatically enough”, Emmerdale’s Lisa Riley and “It” girl Tamara Beckwith sing along while cuddling up to Jimmy Saville with Jimmy Hill marching past playing, very badly, the trumpet.. Finally, in the fourth execution (literally), sales of Heineken have risen… so two lion are sent on stage to devour the performers.
How refresh. How Heineken.
“Heineken advertising typically shows the brand providing a refreshing twist by “blackmailing” people into drinking more beer,” said Iain Newell, the marketing manager at Heineken. “Of course the ads are pretending to be irritating but in fact they are very funny.”
Advertising Agency: Lowe Lintas, London
Creative Director: Charles Inge
Copywriter: Terry Barry
Art Director: Damon Collins
Production Company: Gorgeous Enterprises
Director: Chris Palmer