5 Most Iconic British Adverts of All Time

Research firm Katnar surveyed over 1000 consumers in the UK to find out what the nation deemed to be the most ‘iconic’ ad and the most ‘heartwarming’ ad of the past 60 years.

Hovis’ endearing ‘Boy on the Bike’ ad has beaten off competition from Cadbury, Levis and Smash to be crowned the most ‘iconic’ UK ad of all time.

‘The Bike Ride’, which tells the story of a little boy pushing a bike loaded with bread up a cobbled hill, was also found to be the most likely classic ad to pull on Brits’ heartstrings.

Hovis’ 45-year-old film, which is scored by the emotive sound of Antonín Dvorak’s New World, topped both categories. 22% said it was the most seminal ad and a further 15% said it was the commercial that made them most emotional.

Set in post-war Britain, directed by Sir Ridley Scott and created by Collett Dickenson Pearce (CDP) agency, the ad takes the viewer up Gold Hill as a bread boy struggles to get his bread-delivery bike up the steep slope on his round.

He then freewheels back down the hill to a voiceover: “like taking bread to top of the world – t’was a grand ride back though”.

When it came to the most iconic ads, 11% of Brits ranked Cadbury’s 2007 Gorilla ad, which featured an anthropomorphic gorilla drumming to Phil Collins ‘In the Air Tonight’, in second place.

It was closely followed by Coca Cola’s 1971 classic featuring young people singing I’d Like To Teach The World to Sing and Levi’s 1985 ‘Laundrette’ ad. The Smash Martians completed the top five.

1. Hovis ‘The Bike Ride’


2. Cadbury ‘Gorilla’

3. Coca Cola ‘Hilltop’

4. Levi’s ‘Launderette’

5. Smash ‘The Smash Martians’

In terms of the most heartwarming ads. Yellow Pages’ 1983 ‘JR Hartley’ advert, which tells the story of JR Hartley and his search for a copy his book, was ranked second with 19% of the vote.

John Lewis’s 2010 ‘Always A Woman’ clocked in at number three, while ‘Hilltop’ from Coca-Cola took fourth place. Cadbury came in at number five in the emotional stakes.

How banning Iceland’s advert boosted their brand

For many brands, their Christmas advert is the pinnacle of the advertising calendar. If that advert was banned from television it would be sensible to assume it’d be a devastating blow to a brand’s Christmas campaign. However, Iceland have managed to use their advert’s ban to their advantage. 

On November 9th, Iceland tweeted “You won’t see our Christmas advert on TV this year, because it was banned. But we want to share Rang-tan’s story with you… Will you help us share the story?” 

You may have seen their advert before, it was released by Greenpeace a few months ago. But Iceland have used it to highlight their stance on palm oil. 

The advert was blocked by ClearCast for being “overtly political.” An advertising disaster? Not for Iceland. 

Their original tweet has 90,215 re-tweets, 95,206 likes and 5,100 comments. 

It has been shared by James Corden, Stephen Fry, Bill Bailey and Paloma Faith. James Corden’s single tweet was viewed 13 million times. 

The story has been covered by The Guardian, the New York Times and the Telegraph. 

A petition to get ClearCast to reconsider their judgement has over 590,000 signatures

The video of the advert on YouTube has received over 3 million views. Their 2017 advert only drew 97,000 views by comparison.  

People have commented that Iceland knew the ad would be banned but marketing director Neil Hayes has denied this. 

“There’s some compensation is the fact that it’s gained a bit of momentum and people are watching it on social media. But I would still have loved to put it on primetime TV as our main ad,” 

Neil Hayes

What do you think about the advert? 

Secure Law’s Sky AdSmart TV campaign launches today!

Today, the Media Angel has helped Secure Law launch their first TV campaign, highlighting awareness, and seeking out victims of medical negligence…

The aim of the campaign is to help reassure individuals or family members of those who may have had problems with a trans-vaginal implant or hernia repair mesh implant, or those who have been fitted with a Metal on Metal hip implant, that Secure Law have a team of lawyers led by Dr Sarah-Jane Richards ready to help. All of whom are sensitive to the issues involved and experts at what they do.

We helped Secure Law to hand-pick their target audience using Sky AdSmarts unique audience selection technology. In order for Secure Law to reach their target market they defined their campaign not only by location, choosing a small micro region Cardiff and the South Wales Valleys and Bristol (so no wastage) but also by females aged 35 -55+ who are their key audience.

Alison, Managing Director at The Media Angel said:

“This is fantastic for our client, as they are only paying for their exact target audience to see their adverts.”

The TV adverts are part of a blended advertising campaign currently running for Secure Law including billboard and radio adverts.

Take a look at our blog

Keep up to date with the latest industry news

By using this site you accept the Terms of use | Privacy policy | Cookie policy | Sitemap

Ⓒ The Media Angel Ltd 2024. All rights reserved.