Instead of getting lost in the tear-jerking hustle and bustle of Christmas ad season, this week, THINKERS share some of their favourite (video) ads of all time.

Disclaimer: obviously we weren’t allowed to pick any of our own ;)

THE SHORTLIST (in no particular order)

Speights - ‘The Dance’ (2018)

Feels like a short movie - spot the brand reveal at the end.

Panda Dairy Corp - ‘Never Say No To Panda’ (2010)

This was a top choice for a lot of people for its humour and entertainment value. Iconic.

Puma - ‘Valentines Day’ (2010)

“If your ad evokes an emotional reaction from the audience, chances are you’ve done something right. I still smile & get shivers every time I watch this ad, which is a testament to the moment they created here.”

Epuron - ‘Mr W’ (2007)

“I discovered this when working on a pitch a couple of years ago. I love that it has a twist in the end, all is not what it seems. It is also an example of perfect casting and how key casting is to a brilliant ad. And finally, it's an excellent example of when a brand is brave within their category and willing to try something a bit different.”

Nike - ‘Dream Crazy’ (2018)

“It’s very rare you see a brand so outrightly use their platform to make a hardline stance on a social issue, the tagline “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” is indicative of what the brand has done with this powerful and inspirational ad.”

Sony Bravia - ‘Balls’ (2005)

“I think I had this as my Bebo Flashbox back in the day. It captivates in a really simple, beautiful way. I love the music. As I watch it back now it feels mindful and timeless in its appeal. The tagline at the end is perfect - and it’s also fun to look back on how they made it!”

Gold Blend - Romance series (1987-1993)

“This was a romantic movie that played out on our TV screens over five years. We waited in anticipation for the next sequel to see how the love-story would play out with Gold Blend playing a leading cast role encouraging the fate of the lovestruck-coffee-drinking-neighbours. Risque for the time, it made sure to be the coffee on everyone's lips (literally AND metaphorically).”

Kerrygold - Who’s Taking the Horse to France? (1998)

A classic favourite.

Nando’s South Africa - ‘ Diversity’ (2012)

"You know what's wrong with South Africa? All you foreigners". The South African advertising scene is a ballsy beast, but Nandos rules the roost when it comes to an absence of pulling punches. This ad aired at a time when Xenophobia was nearing its peak with a lot of it directed towards citizens of neighbouring and other African countries further afield. The setup is bold as hell and jaws were on floors across the country before being returned safely to smiling position as the VO finally sounds: "Real South Africans love diversity". The South African Broadcasting Corporation refused to air it, which of course helped it go viral online.

Goodfellas American Pizza (1997)

“First ad I can remember and is still the one that pops into my mind when I think of a TV ad. Just a good aul silly pizza ad that made me think everyone spoke and acted like this in America for far too many years.”

Softmints - ‘Mr Soft’ (1987)

Another classic. Step into a Softmint world.

Think Contraception - ‘Johnny's Got You Covered’ (2013)

Spot on humour.

Optus Australia - ‘AD1’ (2015)

Ricky Gervais does honesty / anti-advertising with deadpan delivery.

Three - ‘DancePonyDance’ (2013)

It’s a dancing pony!

Pirelli - Carl in New York (1995)

An advert for tyres. Stayed for the music.

Batchelors Super Noodles - ‘Wasted Away’ (1998)


Murphy’s Irish Stout - ‘Last Orders’ (1997)

A delightfully dystopian ad that’s part Blade Runner part Anime but all whopper.


For creative inspiration, it helps us to step back from seasonal trends and ‘adland’ talk and reflect on work that has endured and actually means something.

From all the examples shared there is a common theme - emotion. Some ads are surprising, weird and out there, others beautifully tell the story of love or loss, but they all arouse our emotions, deliver something unexpected and draw us in. A good reminder that when it comes to long-term effectiveness it’s emotion all the way.

See also

Nike Just Did It: Why youth think the new Nike rules
Nike Just Did It: Why youth think the new Nike rules

“Of course Nike did this on purpose. It’s genius. In fact, it’s the best damn thing a brand has done this year. Why? Because Nike...