12 best UK TV adverts

18th July 2018

Can you think of some of the best UK TV adverts to grace our screens? Take a look at our top 12 and see how you can emulate them in your next TV advertising production

12 TV adverts that shook TV screens; it must be easy to narrow them down, surely? With talented UK TV advertising production companies, it was not.

What actually makes a TV advert great?

Before we begin to whittle the myriad UK TV commercial productions down to the best, what do you think constitutes a successful TV advert? How visually impressive it was? The sales it generated as a result? Its longevity? The amount of times it was viewed? All high determining factors, but ultimately the best adverts are those that delivered above and beyond their expected KPIs.

Revenue is a key factor, so all of the ads mentioned below were highly lucrative for the respective businesses, but the relative impact will also be considered; whether it improved society for the better, too, will also be under consideration.

12 – Absolut – Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Timing, context and brand consistency are key to any successful advertising campaign; this was no exception.

The renowned vodka brand embodied its TV branding across its products and overall messaging, ensuring the communications was honest, credible and leveraging.

Being broadcast concurrently with Pride 2016 in London, messaging was unequivocal and assisted in creating more exclusive advertising.

11/12 – Haven – Iris

In the case of Britain’s favourite seaside holiday providers, this TV advertising production by Iris really was a breath of fresh air.

Moving on from previous iterations that had focused on the generic seaside holiday, the new ad’s creative, music choice and broadcast timing was perfect for maximum reach, social media proliferation and resonance.

Underscored by Portugal. The Man’s, “Feel It Still”, the screenplay, editing and visuals weaved in branding cues, aspiration and intrigue into a proposition that previously blended in amongst many others in a crowded market – one of 2018’s best ads so far.

10/12 – Honda – Wieden+Kennedy 

One of the most visually compelling ads of the last 20 years, Honda’s meticulously beautiful 120-second advert encapsulated the brand values that they wanted to emboss on the consumer.

Being one consistently moving shot, the seamlessness, accuracy and detail had to be faultless: it was.

Focusing on the intricacies, aspiration and quality that underscores the Honda brand, Wieden+Kennedy’s creative ensured sales increased by 28% for the Japanese marque.

9/12 – Volvo – Grey London

Winner of Channel 4’s Diversity in Advertising Award, this creative underscored Volvo’s commitment to equality and reflective advertising.

Featuring a myriad of individuals of varying ability, appearance and creed, the message was clear: just because a disability might not be visible, it does not make a difference; everyone has their part to play.

Such societal leverage ensures this commercial may well serve to be one of the best UK adverts of recent times, but for now, there are others that have commercially and culturally surpassed this creative, which elicited £1 million free airtime for the ad.

8/12 – Hastings Direct – Antidote

The eponymous ad that has ensured of the brand being remembered by the phone number alone, delivered the ultimate DRTV commercial.

Using the now renowned jingle and call-to-action in tandem, Antidote continued the consistent brand and response work begun by its predecessors, with increased resonance and memorability derived from the connotations associated with 1066 and the Battle of Hastings.

Being used for over 10 years, this revered creative’s success is indisputable and provides an enviable commercial lesson in how to undertake successful DRTV.

7/12 – Cadbury – Fallon London

Sometimes an ad does not need to reflect the product at all, but the emotions desired from consumers; the thoughts provoked and how it delivers creatively can dictate the success of an advertising production.

In the wake of its release, the ad was campaigned in countries across the world; the use of only instruments and lyrics ensured that the need for editing was minor compared to an ad using actors and sync sound.

Having been successful in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the ad was immortalised in the the Cadbury World Advertising Avenue exhibit.

6/12 – Maltesers – Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

The synonymous confectionary giant has produced two commercially and culturally enriching TV advertising productions in 2017 and 2018, but its the latter that is deserving of  the most praise.

Looking at the poor representation of women in society, the ad focuses on publicising the similarities that bond everyone together; an affirming, aspirational and response inducing brand creative, which followed the immensely successful, “Looking on the Light Side of Disability.”

The ad was the Mars brand’s most successful commercially in over 10 years and cemented the business’ reputation as a leader in changing perceptions through advertising.

5/12 – Moonpig – Space City

Having never advertised on TV, former Dragons’ Den star, Nick Jenkins, approached Space City to produce Moonpig’s first ever TV advertising campaign: the creative style is still used today.

A simple, exclusive jingle that was relevant only to the brand itself, seamlessly orchestrated by the repetition of the brand name and products on offer, consumers could not get enough of the new brand.

As a result of the commercial, the former Dragon sold the company to Photobox for £160 million.

4/12 – GoCompare – GoCompare (Original Idea – Space City)

Another debut advertising creative that has remained the perennial commercial route for the comparison site, is the renowned GoCompare man and his unmistakeable jingle.

Conceived by the creative minds at Space City, the ad continues to utilise the same jingle today, underlining the impact of this original piece of music.

Despite being labelled ‘annoying’ by many, the creative tack ensured booming profits for the company founded by Hayley Parsons.

3/12 – Dove – Ogilvy and Mather

The real beauty advertising campaign resonated with so many people; as well as being successful commercially, it truly shifted societal thought on beauty and remains a truly admirable TV advertising production.

Before release in 2004, just 2% of woman felt they were beautiful; according to research after the ad, these figures doubled.

ROI was unparalleled, too, with revenue outstripping investment 30 times over; the campaign still remains today.

2/12 – Amazon – Joint 

This 2016 TV advertising production showcasing Amazon Prime has only been pipped to the post by its lack of longevity, but its impact, messaging and commercial reach ensure it should remain highly revered.

Following the meeting of a priest and an imam, who later exchange the gift of mats to each other, the advert looks at fostering inter-faith relations and ensuring products have a universal appeal.

As well as being released in the UK, US and Germany, the ad’s social responsibility determined its high positioning in our best adverts rankings – discussions with religious leaders helped create the most appeasing and lucrative ad.

1/12 – John Lewis – Adam&Eve DDB

This 2011 hit remains a piece of video production art in itself; entertaining, life affirming content that is worthy of its place in cultural folklore without it promoting a particular product.

Left with the seemingly hackneyed story of a little boy waiting for Christmas morning, the twist occurs upon knowing the ad context: he wanted to give a present more than receiving one.

On-brand and named the Campaign Magazine Campaign of the Year, the ad left an indelible mark on culture, the brand and society as a whole: the best ad of recent times.

Space City is the UK’s most cost-effective TV advertising production company, remaining the UK’s most productive TV commercial producer in 2018.

Find more of your favourite TV adverts through exploring the showreel on our website.

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