18 Memorable TV Ads Of The 1980s

The British film industry struggled during the ’80s. But at least we made good ads…

Brands were forking out big money for TV spots. ‘Celebrities’ frequently appeared and esteemed directors (Alan Parker, Ridley Scott, Hugh Hudson, Roland Joffe) were occasionally at the helm. Even Ken Loach, down on his uppers, got in on the act (see below).

To some, the proliferation of well-made TV ads was a sure sign of a nation in fine health. To others, it was just another ugly symbol of the Thatcherite dream, corporate capitalism running riot in the most divisive of decades. Bruce Robinson, for one, was in the latter camp – he spent the entire length of his 1988 movie ‘How To Get Ahead In Advertising’ decrying the industry.

But here are some ads that remain totally fresh in the mind. On viewing them for the first time in 30 years, almost all raised a titter of familiarity – pure comfort viewing. Maybe it’s the soft-focus tint of nostalgia, but don’t they seem warmer, more imaginative, less desperate for your attention than the current crop? Or did they bring to bear all the evils of corporate ‘storytelling’ for the first time? Over to you…

18. The Guardian: ‘Points Of View’ (1986, directed by Ken Loach)

17. Clorets: ‘Security Guards’ (1989)

16. Maxell: ‘Break The Sound Barrier’ (1984)

15. Ready Brek: ‘Central Heating’ (1982)

14. BT: ‘Ology’ (1988)

13. The Milk Board: ‘Accrington Stanley’ (1988)

12. Tunes: ‘Return To Nottingham’ (1985)

11. Yellow Pages: ‘Bike’ (1985)

10. Yellow Pages: ‘JR Hartley’ (1983)

9. Yellow Pages: ‘Train Set’ (1985)

8. Shake ‘n’ Vac (1980)

7. BA: Club World (1987)

6. Toshiba: ‘Hello Tosh’ (1985)

5. Big Track (1980)

4. Hamlet: ‘Photo Booth’ (1987)

3. Heineken: ‘Water In Majorca’ (1988)

2. R Whites Lemonade (1980)

1. Quatro (1985)