Adverts that work hard

I am fascinated by anything and everything to do with advertising. At the very top of my list of advertising interests is understanding the effect that campaigns have on their audience. This is something that I actually studied while at university and it really stuck with me. I sometimes feel as though I’m part of a secret club that have been let into the science behind how clever words and pictures can encourage people to part with their money – but this doesn’t make the science any less effective on me! 

There’s a huge amount of work and time that goes into make an effective and memorable advertising campaign, but some of them hit their audience a lot harder than others. I’ve made a list below of the ones that I just cannot get out of my head (no matter how hard I try).

1. GoCompare. You’d have to have been living under a rock for this company name to not want to make you crawl back under said rock or rip your ears off. But as much as we all hate it, it’s really worked hasn’t it? GoCompare created the most irritating persona possible (albeit potentially accidentally) in the form of Wynne Evans; an actual, official tenor singer; and used him to make their brand a household name that people will think of immediately when wanting to find a good deal for their insurance needs. Well done them.

2. Diet Coke. Not sure if this is showing my age, but I remember seeing the Diet Coke window cleaners on television and thinking it was outrageous. I was genuinely embarrassed when it came on! But it went down in history, didn’t it? People in my office still refer to Diet Coke when the window cleaners turn up (although I have to say the ones at my office aren’t quite of the same stature as those in the advert…)

3. Cadburys. Surely we all remember the gorilla drumming away to the classic beats of Phil Collins? But did you notice that there was no mention or images of chocolate? It was a potentially risky, but hideously effective idea and was also one of the first viral campaigns used in Britain. And it worked!

4. Toyota. Probably not in most people’s top five, but I thought their ‘The car in front is a Toyota’ campaign was super effective. This came out when I was quite a lot younger so I didn’t really grasp the full concept of the play on words here at the time, but the tagline has been engrained in my brain since 1997 so they must have been doing something right.

5. McCains. It’s one of those questions that will go down in history as one of the most important and most debated of all time. Daddy or chips?


Advertising isn’t just about being memorable, of course. It’s all about awareness and – eventually – making money. Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign is probably one of the most famous and most effective that has ever been conceived. It emerged in the late 1980’s, just when the fitness craze was at its height and was aimed at surpassing their main competitor, Reebok. And surpass them, they did! In 10 years, Nike’s sales went up by over eleven THOUSAND percent. CRAZY. Their success can largely be attributed to that tiny, clever slogan. Those three words encouraging people to get off their butts and get on with it, something I attribute to more than just exercise. 


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