The Best TV Adverts of All Time

by Anthony O'Neill

This blog post will highlight some of the best TV adverts of all time that successfully connected with audiences and are remembered to this day.

Whether brands are big or small, there are millions of adverts out there from recent years, or decades ago that are as memorable for us then, as they are now.

For this post we are going to explore some of the best TV advertisements to ever pop-up on our television screens, looking at brands such as John Lewis, Cadburys, and Coca-Cola and why their campaigns became viral sensations due to their creativity and brand messaging.

If you’re an advertiser, or you’re looking for some campaign inspiration then look no further than this post, as we will be exploring a range of different campaigns that you can pull ideas from.

So with that in mind, let’s get started with our first example!


Credit to Ad Forum

Freeview: Singing Cat and Budgie

We are starting off with a classic UK advert from Freeview, the free-to-air digital TV service.

Released back in 2014, this advert consisted of an unlikely duo of a cat and a budgie singing a duet.

The pair are left alone in a room together, the cat jumps up to open the budgie’s cage, and then they break into a version of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s cover of ‘You’re All I Need to Get By.’

They roam around the room together and end up singing and looking into each other’s eyes, and the advert creates a short love story surrounding the two characters.

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of cats and budgies, this advert is enough to warm your heart and make you think twice about what your pets are getting up to at home while you’re away!

John Lewis Elton John Advert
Credit to Digital Spy

John Lewis: Elton John

Every year John Lewis seems to pull it out of the bag around Christmas time and audiences across the UK and further afield, anticipate what the topic of the advert will be as December rolls around.

One of the best however, was the advert featuring Elton John and his story in 2019.

The adverts starts with the world famous singer himself on the piano in his home as he begins to play Your Song.

The premise of the advert is that “some gifts are more than just a gift” as it takes us back in time through the life and success of Elton John, right to the gift of a piano in his early years.

Iconic shows and scenes from his life are shown with a variety of actors playing him at different stages, from him performing in stadiums, to playing at a piano recital, and finally we see young Elton John tearing the wrapping paper from a piano one Christmas morning.

The advert ties together a musical icon, Christmas, and the power a gift can have without even using dialogue between the advert actors.

Money supermarket daves epic strut
Credit to BBC News

Money Supermarket: Dave’s Epic Strut

Onto an opposite genre now and to more of a humorous TV advertisement with Money Supermarkets introduction of Dave’s epic strut.

The campaign starts with a man in a suit getting out of his car and strutting up the street with confidence.

Then, after people pass by and look down at his legs, it’s clear it’s not just his suit pants catching attention, but instead the camera pans down to show the character wearing a pair of denim shorts and heels.

The combination spoke for itself and the way the advert was filmed created enough intrigue for audiences to keep watching.

The juxtaposition of the two outfits on the actor works so well and he is accompanied by other male workers on their commute in a dance on the streets.

The voiceover reads: “Dave saved money on his car insurance with Money Supermarket and now he feels epic”, and this shows how the campaign the insurance company has created has the ultimate longevity.

The company from then on had a foundation for all of their adverts with that one sentence, and just had to pair it with something regular and something out of the ordinary for the video to match.

This advert caught the attention of all audiences as the level of humour appealed to viewers young and old, and the template of this advert provided a formula that worked again and again.

cadburys drumming gorilla
Credit to UNILAD

Cadbury’s Dairy Milk: Drumming Gorilla

This advert was named as the nations all-time favourite at one point in time, and was created in a bid to bring fun and excitement back to the Cadburys organisation in 2007.

Surprisingly the advert almost didn’t make it onto TV screens, but when it did it was 90 seconds long, didn’t involve any humans, and there were no Dairy Milk bars in sight.

Instead the advertisement involved a gorilla drumming along to the iconic intro of ‘In the Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins.

The advert is certainly unique and holds the audience’s attention as for the first minute there is no backing track, and it shows a slow pan of the gorilla getting ready to perform.

Ironically despite the lack of branding and mention of Cadburys, the advert is still very clearly for the chocolate giant, as the gorilla is placed in front of a purple backdrop.

The directors of the advert wanted to showcase exactly how eating Cadburys Dairy Milk makes you feel, and the audience resonated with this as it became one of the companies largest and most successful campaigns.

Old Spice advert
Credit to Business Wire

Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

This Old Spice advert in particular is a comedic take on average men’s body wash advertisements from other brands.

The entire focus is on the man and what he can do compared to everyone else as he is wearing Old Spice body wash, and they aren’t.

The model in the ad is shown to be getting out of the shower, and telling “ladies” to look at him then back to “their man” then back to him, and encouraging the audience to buy into the idea that Old Spice is the key to being a man.

The model is then transported to a boat holding the shower gel that changes to tickets to a show and then to diamonds, and suddenly the man is on a horse again holding the shower gel.

The 30 second advert is fast paced in order to showcase everything a man can do when wearing Old Spice, which is apparently everything!

The model is also conveniently without a shirt for the entire ad, and it almost makes a jab at a lot of aftershave and men’s health adverts where men are shown to be highly stereotypical.

Ultimately what Old Spice are saying is, the body wash is just a body wash, it won’t change who you are or make you more of a man, so buy it for the right reasons!

Gilette advert
Credit to Pinterest

Gillette: We Believe: The Best Men Can Be

This advert caused slight controversy when it came to male stereotypes and toxic masculinity, but that’s exactly why it had to make this list of some of the best TV adverts of all time.

Gillette decided to steer away from the typical adverts of their past involving celebrities and models showcasing how to get the perfect shave and being highly masculine.

The advert demonstrates scenarios such as two young boys fighting, with father figures uttering “boys will be boys”, or a male employee speaking for a woman by saying “I think what she’s trying to say is.”

The company flipped the coin and focused on positive masculinity, by then showing examples of how men can support not only one another but women too, while at the same time setting the right example for the future generation.

Rather than the tagline “the best a man can get” Gillette swapped this out for “the best men can be”, in order to promote speaking out and standing up for one another and what is right.

The campaign went viral with over 4 million views in the first two days, so despite the backlash, the company clearly did something right with this powerful ad.

Coca-cola holidays are coming
Credit to Belfast Live

Coca-Cola: Holidays Are Coming!

There are several remakes of the Holidays are Coming campaign by Coca-Cola starting with the original in 1995, and the latest one in 2020.

The content for the advert remains similar but the quality and actors featured are updated, and each advert shows families getting excited for Christmas and towns and villages preparing for an exciting arrival.

The Coca-Cola truck is shown to be driving towards the featured town and the theme tune “Holidays are Coming” plays, and families get wrapped up to go outside to see the festive truck.

As the vehicle travels through the town, Christmas lights are illuminated and some adverts even have the Santa Claus image coming to life as he drinks from a bottle of Coke.

Coca-cola has created a series of adverts here that are remembered across the globe with the motive of celebrating the Christmas period by opening a bottle of happiness.

This advert materialised into yearly events where families can visit the Coca-Cola truck in various locations across the UK, with the addition of a festive market.

The campaign has been going for over 25 years, and has been updated to stay relevant to the ever growing audience of Coca-Cola.

Haribo inner child advert
Credit to It’s Nice That

Haribo: Inner Child

Haribo came out with a series of “inner child” advertisements, but the original was based in an office boardroom.

The concept of this advert, and a number of others created by the company, was to use the voices of children explaining why they love each of the Haribo sweets over the video of adults having a boardroom discussion.

Put more simply, the adult actors in the advert were made to look like they had the voices of the children.

The group discusses each of the sweets ranging from the heart to the gummy bears and the children’s explanations are charming as well as creating the humour.

This campaign perfectly targeted both audiences or adults and children, by incorporating a bit of silliness and lining up with their tagline of the time “Kids and Grown-ups Love it So”

Always #likeagirl advert
Credit to Cosmopolitan

Always: #Like A Girl

This advert, similar to the Gillette advert, involves a variety of actors and has a deeper messaging behind it.

Aired in 2014, the Always advert was created in a documentary style, with the director asking older girls and men to “run like a girl” or “throw like a girl”. The actors then proceeded to do the actions based on what they thought they meant, for example running with arms flapping around and not concentrating, or throwing the ball with no power.

The director then asked young girls around the age of 10 to do the same actions and the results were completely different.

The purpose of this campaign was to show that at a certain age, girls are made to feel incapable in doing some tasks through fear of failure, whereas beforehand they were full of confidence.

The mission of the menstrual product brand was to encourage girls everywhere to embrace this fear and build confidence and change the meaning of doing things “like a girl”.

This advert created a powerful movement and helped to continue to break stigmas around puberty and the menstrual cycle – an important pillar of the Always brand that still stands today!

The Best TV Adverts of All Time

So, there is our list of some of the best TV adverts of all time, all of which show how different emotions can be evoked through advertising campaigns.

Whether you laughed at the Inner Child series of Haribo adverts, or the John Lewis Christmas Ad gets you every year, all of the campaigns above are successful in making the audience feel something.

Although TV advertisements are a form of marketing to encourage an audience to invest in a product or service, this can’t be done if the messaging and company values are ingenuine.

This can lead to a lack of brand trust, and doesn’t allow audiences to get a feel for a brand’s personality.

Here at The TV Agency we can help you to plan and execute TV advertisements that will get your message out there and get your company noticed by audiences around the world.

If you’re looking to create an advert that is memorable and makes an impact on your audience, contact us to get started!